Friday, January 4, 2008

Running Experiment

Wednesday night I ran an experiment. Literally. For the first in over 28 years, I ran a mile. Since my studded tire bike was still on its way back from Michigan, I did a light spin on the Lemond Revmaster in the evening. Sufficiently warmed up for the near 0F air, I laced up the closest things I had to running shoes and went out.

This past summer I was late for a meeting in another facility and had to run about 200m from my car slightly downhill to the building. No biggie. Next day, felt fine. Second day, I could hardly walk with severe shin splints. It took over five days for the pain to go away, all from less than a 60 second jog from my car. I don't do any impact exercise, such as ball sports. I suck at them. With lack of conditioning, it takes very little to bring about shin splints.

The last time I can recall running a mile or more was in high school, probably around 1979 or 1980. I think I was slower than 10 minute miles. I had severe asthma problems back then, but it was not enough to get me out of gym class. I suffered through these events and finished DFL every time.

So Wednesday night I ran two 0.55 mile laps around my culdesac block for 1.1 miles total. I ran a pace I thought was aerobically moderate, although my heart rate soared. My pace: about 6:51 min/mi. Pretty poor I thought. The 7 minute run turned my quads, of all things, into jelly. I kind of ached all over. Running can't be healthy, I thought to myself.

So why, you may ask, would I perform such a foolish experiment? I'm still having thoughts about doing a winter triathlon at Weston on January 26. Many people say huh, a triathlon in January? Key word is winter. It is a run/bike/ski all on snow. You run 5km on a groomed XC ski course, then bike 7.5km on same loop, then XC ski 6km on a different loop. I've been mountain biking on snow for over 8 years now, so I should have that base very well covered. I've been skate skiing a few years now, experienced just enough to dare compete. The run will suck. It's only 3 miles, and my goal is to suffer through it without injuring myself or needing weeks to recover from tweaked tissues.

Wednesday night's run was a small shock to the system, or in engineering terms, an impulse response test. Two days later, the impulse response has not settled out. I had no shin splints yesterday, just sore hips. Today, I have moderate shin splints, but hips feel recovered. If I can tone up the shins in three weeks, I might be good to go for a three mile run. How long the run will take depends entirely on conditions. With warming spell coming, course could turn to ice if no more snow comes. It could be warm and slushy. It could be snowing. Doesn't matter. I just don't want to be babying abused body parts for weeks from a one hour event.

After talking with real runners yesterday and today, they were surprised at my aggressive pace. A non-runner should never start out that hard, especially on pavement and without running shoes. Aerobically, I could have gone much harder. So plan now is to back down the pace a notch and maybe do a three lap run this weekend. If shin splints don't come back or are less severe, I'll go for four lap/2.2 mile run mid week. Goal is not to be competitive in run leg of triathlon, just conditioning to prevent injury. This whole thing is exploratory. If I like the triathlon, it's not impossible I would do more multisport events (excluding swimming). I did invest in a pair of trail running shoes tonight.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned.


Chuck said...


I've emailed with you before and am enjoying the new Blog format. Good stuff as usual. Just a quick note that I transitioned to running this Fall after the last road race to give myself a break from riding.

I found it interesting that your hips hurt, that what really got quite sore for me. I've run a lot over the years although I'm mainly cycling these days and never had the pain in the hips like that. Must be something about the heavy dose of cycling

My running culminated with a T Giving day 10k where I did 6:48's. I was happy with that for a pretty hilly course. Back when I used to run more, I think I did 6:39's once.

Finally, as someone who clearly studies their physiology closely, and I'm sure you've passed the time on many a long rides discussing this, but what do you make of the doping controversies? Mainly, do you think it's possible that any of the present day (including Lance) cyclists could have been successful without the advent of some sort of "help"? Or, were there freaks among the freaks? Apparently Jan wasn't and many thought he was. Tyler appears to have taken some short cuts. The other piece I can't get my arms around and no one seems to squarely address it: what exactly was the technique? EPO seems to have gone by the wayside in exchange for efficient and secretive blood transfusions, of the cyclists own blood. What was so special about their own blood if this was the technique? Was it just blood from a very good training block? Or was it doped, resulting in great hematocrit levels and therefore they wanted to grab it and use it for peak performance?



Hill Junkie said...


I didn't have comment notification turned on and missed your comment. Still learning all the quirks of blogger.

I just ran again tonight (3rd time in two weeks), and the sharp pain during and after running is starting to subside. I ran on a icy/slushy surface for just 1.65mi at about 6:56 pace. I hope to run 3mi this weekend, as my winter triathlon with a 5k run is the following weekend. My goal is to just survive the run without injury.

I try to stay out of the whole doping scandle thing. Needless to say, I'm deeply disappointed in many athletes. It's a shame when anybody does well you immediately wonder what drugs they used.

I think part of the deal with using your own blood is it can't be detected if you don't over do it. You want it to be clean with no doping agents. The idea is to increase your red blood cell count when you need a boost. It's just one potential weak link in the oxygen delivery system. Kind of like altitude training without the altitude. It doesn't have to be special blood, just more red blood cells in the system. I believe strokes are risk if you over do it. I don't know how directly injecting additional rbc's increases hematocrit, but I suspect that's how they detect it.


Chuck said...

Thanks, Doug. I understand your reluctance to get into the whole doping discussion. It's been beaten to a pulp at this point. However, you clarified a missing piece for me and it definitely clears up why many over and over can, with a semi-clear conscience, say, I've never taken PEDs.

Keep writing, always interesting insights from you.