April in Vermont is known for being unpredictable. Monday brought 68º temperatures and beautiful weather. Flowers have been blooming, trees are full of buds, it’s most definitely been Spring. Color me surprised when I woke up on Wednesday to a FOOT of heavy wet white death falling from the sky. I refused to shovel. I had already purged my car of all winter gear (though, thankfully still had my snow tires on) so I reluctantly cleaned my car off with a picnicking mat; the more seasonably appropriate car gear. I was then faced with the decision: do I run with my Vibram’s in a foot of snow or do I wimp out and brave the ancient treadmill at work. I’m such a wimp.
You know, I felt seriously proud of myself a few weeks ago when I ran in the cold and rain and even in light snow. Yesterday, I was not so brave. So, I headed down to the “Not Too Athletic Club” (yes, seriously, that’s what it’s called). I flipped the lights on and tried not to gag at the stench of mildew and lowered expectations. Then, I headed into the freezing cold women’s room to change as I fought back my hatred for the flickering fluorescent lights.
It’s an odd place, if you haven’t figured that out already. One can tell that once upon a time it used to be a pretty cool gym. There’s decent equipment, albeit dust covered, relevant workout posters, and even a squash court. Unfortunately, the whole place now is a bit deflated, which can literally be said about the squash balls. Still, I stepped up to the treadmill, after stretching of course, plugged my iPhone into the speakers and took off!
It was an interesting experience. Just like when I used the treadmill last week at the hotel, this was a very robotic experience. It’s unrelenting how the damn thing just keeps moving and I have to choose whether to stay on for the ride or chicken out. I may be a wimp but I was not a chicken. I was feeling good through the first three-minute run and into the first half of the first five-minute run. Unfortunately, after that the same exact cramp I had in my right side on the previous run came back and remained for the duration of the workout. It was a bit easier to cope with this time, but I do think it’s odd that it was in the same exact place and I’m very open to advice about what that could be.
I did still appreciate that it was easy to “get in the zone” on the treadmill. I was able to really get into a solid stride and that made me feel pumped. I even daydreamed a bit as I stared ahead at the blank yellow walls. I can’t say it was an easy run. I completed it, and I felt good about that, but I was also really exhausted afterwards and that exhaustion carried with me throughout the rest of the afternoon; I don’t think that made me the easiest person to work with. I stretched longer than usual afterwards but am dismayed to find that both calves are really bothering me today; this has not been the case with my previous runs.
For posterity, I kept the treadmill inclined at +1.5 and my walking pace was between 3-3.5mph while the running pace was around 5mph. I also focused even more on incorporating my abs so my core was strong, which relieves tension in the lower back. I was pleased to find that my stride is now happily balanced in the mid-foot to ball-of-the-foot range which is ideal for barefoot running. Now, if I could only figure out where I went wrong to cause the calf and side-cramping issue. I will say that if I don’t find this routine easier tomorrow I very well may need to repeat week 4. This week has been challenging and I’m not sure that I’m ready to move on until I’m comfortable with this pace. As stubborn as I am, I know that pushing only leads to injury and that could put me out of commission for way too long!