On Saturday – just six days from now – I am running the first ultra Fat Ass of my year. I’ll be spending the day putting 100 kilometers on the board and seeing how my No Sugar, No Grain (NSNG) diet holds up over the course of a day on my feet. I’m looking forward to it, to having fun as I run for hours on end, and to see if I can get it all done.
But then this morning, 4 kilometers into what I was planning on being a 20 to 25 kilometer run, I felt a niggle in my left calf muscle. It was there for a step, then another step, then I slowed things down a little and it was still there.
One of the key goals I have mentioned during this entire training block is to avoid injury. Towards that end I have eaten well, had recovery days and recovery weeks (like this one, for example) and avoided the sorts of things that have seen me get injured before. For example, when someone sprints off at the Lyon Running Crew evening run or when the zone defi calls for a sprint, I hold back knowing that finishing a couple of places higher among the 30 or 40 runners isn’t much of a reward if I also pull a muscle trying to hold the speed of the front of the pack. In any case, I’ve been careful and the only problems I have had have come from stupidity – tripping over a cobblestone, slipping up at Lurdunum – and not from over-use or over-extension.
To feel this niggle in my calf was a problem and one that I decided to be a little proactive about. I didn’t need this right now and with the Fat Ass 100K looming, I don’t want to be going into things injured. Hence, shortly after I felt the niggle in my calf, I pulled up onto the roadside from the path I was running along the Saone, and turned for home.
I followed the path back the way I had come avoiding the puddles and not pushing the pace at all. My heart rate never lifted much, and I even ended up running more than 15% of the time in Zone 1 – now that’s control, people. I clicked stop on the Garmin as the 10K mark rolled up and I returned to Jacobins, and went inside warmed up from the near-hour I had spent running but a little worried about this niggle that now needs to be cared for.
Calf niggle aside, the recovery week went according to plan. I managed to get in the distance and the time on my feet that I had planned. Last weekend as I closed out a hundred mile week I wrote:
I hope I’ll manage between 80km and 100km next week with nothing more than 10km or so each weekday and a couple of slightly longer runs on the weekend. Of course, the Town and Tube Fat Ass I’m running is less than two weeks away and, if I complete that, I’ll notch another hundred mile week and likely a new weekly mileage best, too. So, for the week to come, there’s no stress at all: get out, enjoy the running, and keep injury free.
Well I got my stress free week, I got my 80 to 100 kilometers, and I am mostly injury free. I say ‘mostly’ because the calf is not hurting as I type this, nor did it hurt walking from Jacobins back home. I’ll throw some ice on it, foam roll the muscle a little, and see how I got tomorrow. There’s no rush, there’s no stress, and I am not thinking of dropping from the Town and Tube.
The next five days will be tapering ahead of the 100K. I’d still like to get out on Monday and Tuesday but if it is just 30 minutes to an hour, I’ll be happy. The goal is to be fit and ready to run the Town and Tube on Saturday, not set all sorts of records on a random Thursday morning. This calf niggle is not what I needed, but it’s what I’ll manage over the next couple of days to make sure I am fit and fighting come 5am Saturday morning.