Monday, 15 February 2010

Running whinges and twinges


My ambition to run 1,000 miles and cycle 1,000 kilometres this year is hitting a few rough patches. Obviously, I started the year full of ambition and determination, but old age, laziness and faint-heartedness have so far severely interfered with my targets. Probably, the faint heart has been the biggest obstacle, when faced with sub-zero temperatures and biting, North Easterly winds – what kind of fool would go out running in that? Not this one! Consequently, I have clocked up a mere 0.5% of my annual target for running, midway through the shortest month of the year. I’m behind, but much more in touch with, my cycling ambition – currently about 8% completed – about half what I needed to have achieved by this time of the year, but still ‘doable’.

After the total no-show of January, I finally decided that enough was enough and I was just going to have to be brave, so I started back out running again during the past week. I’m still reasonably fit, although I do appear to be carrying a bit of extra ‘winter’ weight, which certainly makes things harder. I am, after all, having to carry that extra weight with me everywhere I go, and it also affects my tendons, muscles and joints with every footfall. The resultant impacts are taking their toll on my lower limbs, which is very frustrating. After a couple of miles I am perfectly capable of continuing much further, but for one particular area on the inside of my right calf muscle. This small area protests with every stride, particularly on downhill stretches, and threatens something far more serious than an ominous twinge should I dare to ignore it. As a result, I have simply not been able to complete the mileage I had hoped for, and am capable of on the most part.

Better to build up slowly though than risk exacerbating things. An injury would put me out of running and cycling. I’m pretty sure that this is related to the biomechanical instability in my leg, introduced by the femur break and subsequent repair operation. The surgeon did an excellent job, but it’s not quite as it was before. A quick search of the interweb tells me that it is likely an injury to the gastrocnemius muscle. Things should improve as I strengthen the surrounding muscle and get more endurance and stamina into the tissues, so hopefully I will start my ambition on a whimper but build to a bang!

One thing that I still struggle with from time to time is getting the insulin right. When I went for my last run I started with a level of 7.2 mmol/l, but finished on 10.8 mmol/l. My levels had still not come back into normal range (4-7) two hours later, although they had come down to 7.8 mmol/l. Really, I would have expected a much lower reading after the exercise, but it seems that I don’t start increasing my sensitivity to insulin until several hours after the exercise. This can then go on for up to 40 hours. What I’m trying to work out is, were the post-exercise levels due to an insufficiency of circulating insulin? Should I have had an extra unit with my breakfast? Or was it due to a stress response that caused my liver to release glucose and push the levels higher? Sometimes it all becomes far too complicated and you just have to accept it.

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