W. CAITLIN SMITH

DOULA, PILATES, YOGA, DANCE, ART, TRAIL RUNNING

Friday, December 20, 2013

Experiment of One

Running should make you happy. It should add to your life. But we have all been in situations where we’re disappointed, stressed, and overwhelmed by running. When I started running, it was my escape from the chaos of school and turbulent relationships and it was a way to organize thoughts, breathe, and be present. I never expected to be running beside an Olympian in Redwood Park on a Sunday morning talking about my love of running and training with frustrations as a backdrop.

Often life is about perspective. Since the Olympic trials I have been dealing with bilateral quad cramping that comes and goes. It tends to be the worst at certain times of the month and intense at the start of runs and often subsides 15-20 minutes into a run, after the first interval of a workout, or a few miles into a race. It is frustrating, but I’m trying not to dwell on it. But then I’ve noticed, I am anxious showing up to races and workouts just making it all worse, running slower than my capabilities, and doubting myself. Is it psychological? Am I causing the locking up in my legs with stress? I don’t think so. People can see a change in my form when it occurs. I go from a nice stride to super hunched shuffler. I’ve run through it, but it’s painful, I can’t lift my legs, my breathing gets heavier, and it slows me down big time. Then with no rhyme or reason it disappears and I am normal for the rest of the run, maybe a few days, maybe a few weeks.

I’ve had the blood work. Normal. I’ve had the physical. Heart murmur, but that’s normal. I’ve had the ART. Lots of knots in the quads, but running high mileage = normal. I’ve tried the magnesium spray. Only noticeable effect so far is that it can sting especially on freshly shaven legs. I make sure to add some salt to my food. I am eating well, sleeping well, stretching, and strengthening. Knock on wood, but I have only had one run where the quads flared up this month, which was after sitting on a plane most of the day. I’ll keep eating my kale, seeing Dr. Gutierrez, rope stretching, and doing core work daily.

I have some other theories that I toss around. But I am starting to lean towards the fact that my legs missed hills and that I got too fixated on getting something out of running. It’s good to be goal driven, but running should add to your life, it should make you happy. Maybe I was fighting my body rather than just going out and running French without a watch or pace in mind. Maybe it’s of no surprise, but since adding hill workouts and going out to the headlands with Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, I’ve been re-inspired by running.


I may never know the culprit of my quad seizing, but I am on a mission to stay happy and healthy in 2014. I am an experiment of one and I am off to climb some hills.   

Magda crushing North Face 50 while I paced. 

1 comment:

John Nguyen said...

Good luck with your running in 2014! Hope you have a great Christmas and New Year! I'll be training for Western States, which is both scary and exciting!