It was a great day for a run with the temps being a little more fall-like than they have been for the last month or so.
The plan was to run 10k as this is the mileage target I've been aiming at for the last few trail runs. I was just approaching the 5K mark when I started to feel a little tension on the inside of my left thigh. This area has been giving me a little grief over the last couple of months and has been the target of some pretty horrible cramping. When I felt the tension begin, I immediately stopped and did a little flexing, in an attempt to gauge the severity of what I was dealing with. It seemed as though if I ran on more or less level ground, it didn't bother me. If I needed to extend my left leg in a different direction to hit a rock or log in a certain way then that's when I felt it. Eventually I found that the leg felt better if I actually ran a little faster, so this is what I did.
By the end of the run, however, both of my legs were starting to feel it and I ended up with this very uncoordinated feeling down there---that I would try to get them to move in one direction but then they'd go off on their own little tangent. At the end of the trail, there is some rather steep, rocky and root-infested terrain and having wonky legs made it quite problematic in traversing it. I basically walked the final kilometer. I was then faced with the long walk home, knowing things were just not right.
Once I got home, it felt good to sit down, but at the same time I tried to get up and move around a little so that things didn't seize up too much. I had been doing this pretty successfully but then made the mistake of taking things a little too for granted.
|Yeah, it was right in there somewhere...|
I stood up from the couch and, instead of making sure i was perfectly aligned, I had my right leg slightly extended. As my body lifted off the couch, that leg went into full-blown cramp mode. The pain was excruciating and many curse words were said. I could neither stand all the way up, move, or sit back down again. I had Doralyn fetch me an ice pack and a tall chair so that I could at least take part of my body weight off my legs. The pain seemed to begin on the inside of the knee, up the whole inside of that thigh and then taper out across the top of the thigh.
It took about 5 minutes to eventually settle down. I walked around for a bit and then eventually sat back down on the couch. I was able to get back up and down a couple of more times but then the same thing happened, lasting another 5 minutes.
At that point, no more couch for me! I set up the laptop beside a tall chair so that I would be fairly close to standing position as I wrote.
In bed, things continued to be difficult. I could not move my legs enough to re-position the covers without the fear of a cramp taking over. Today, I am not cramping but my legs feel like they've been through the wringer and definitely feel as though one wrong move would paralyze me again.
I've spent a fair amount of time researching sports cramps, as a result of the past month and a half or so. What I've found is that there's no real consensus as to what causes cramps. The thought used to be that de-hydration and loss of electrolytes were the main culprits. Recent research has put doubt on whether this is true or not. There is also not a lot of consensus as to how to treat them and/or prevent them. After all the research, it seems that the most likely cause may simply be overdoing it. Muscles get used to contracting and relaxing according to the regular amount of work they're given---if you give them more work than they're used to, they go all postal on you.
I have certainly been "overdoing it", by my standards! I've gone from running 5K on pavement maybe every week and a half to running 10K through forests (in extremely hot temperatures, I might add) once a week. What's more, for some reason, I seem to be ignoring little warning signs my body's been giving me as I've been doing this.
Okay, so I think I need to ratchet things down a little! No more 10K's for a bit and just work my way up gradually, possibly running shorter distances a little more often. We'll see how it goes but, right at the moment, I'm just gonna try and get up off the couch one more time!