Hindsight suggests I did too much too soon in the week following the London Marathon. The calves and Achilles in particular didn’t thank me for running 42 miles in the week following the big day out in the capital. I refrained from running for two weeks as I allowed the legs to recover / concentrated on riding the Fred Whitton Sportive.
This activity may have caused issues in itself, the walk up Hardknott in cycle shoes (With cleats) in particular I think may have put great stress on the hamstring and calves. for all three runs in the week before the Lincoln 5k were notable for identical discomfort in both calf muscles. The 17:40 parkrun, wrapped in a 14 mile long run, in particular was very uncomfortable come the run’s end – the Hoka’s I was wearing I decided to blame for the pain, to be replaced by a fresh pair.
With very few running miles in the bank heading to Lincoln on a fairly warm Tuesday night, I was unsure of how the evening would pan out. This 5k race, the first in a summer series at the back of the main leisure center in Lincoln, was a round of my club’s inaugural Grand Prix series, so there was a larger than usual turn out from Grantham Running Club for this event that in the past has been lucky enough to see one member of the club make the journey.
My warm up was planned to be three miles, the first mile felt fine – 7:03. For the second mile I gradually picked the pace up to 6:20. after around a minute or two at this pace I felt a real tightening in the right calf. I stopped, stretched, and tried to continue. I made it to two miles then called the warm up a day. I spent the next 30 minutes stretching frantically, not just the calf, but the hamstrings, hip flexors, IT band, and Piraformis. My suspicion was that it was a recurrence of the calf tightening incidents that plagued me through Q4 of 2015 and Q1 of 2016 that was finally traced to probable nerve irritation in the glute area.
A few minutes before the off I attempted a few strides to test the calf. There was mild discomfort but I felt that I could try and race and so I lined up for the start. A relaxed affair, the starter arrived a few minutes late and, after observing a minute’s silence for the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing, we were set off with little fanfare.
Having run this race once before, I knew the pace would be hot at the start and so I started a little way back so as not to get too carried away. True to form I found myself chasing some of my somewhat slower club mates for the first few hundred meters before the adrenaline wore off and I began to move past them. My calf was niggling but was not too bad for the opening mile, My Garmin registered a 5:03 which I took with a huge pinch of salt for I will always remember how it was nearly a minute of running out when I ran here last, and it appeared to be doing the same again (It did indeed end up reckon I ran 3.29 miles for a race that is 3.11…).
Unlike in 2014 where there was a large group of similarly paced runners to cling onto, this year the field was more spread out and I found myself running with just one other runner for the majority of the race. To this extent it was a very uneventful run with little to report on. Mile 2 was apparently a 5:11. As the last full mile began the right calf began to ache quite a bit more. It got progressively worse until, with around half a mile to go I thought I would have to stop. The only thing that kept me going was that I reckoned it was a nerve issue rather than a muscular one so I was unlikely to be doing any real damage. So I pushed on as best I could, undoubtedly slowed a bit by the pain, but not enough for me to cross the finish line with 16:55 on my Garmin (with a 5:16 final mile and 4:59 pace third of a mile (sic) to conclude).
I was pleased with this, it’s the second time I’ve broken 17:00 in a 5K race (Excluding parkrun) and I thought I was just a few seconds outside my PB, which I thought was 16:52. It was only when I got home and checked Power of 10 that I realised my PB was actually 16:55 – so I’d unofficially equaled my PB! A day later when the official results were published I rued my decision to not stand on the start line as a couple of seconds were added to my time (16:57). There was no chip timing, alas, so I’ll have to make do with the knowledge it was unofficially a PB equaling performance.
The calf tightened loads on the way home, I was unable to run for another week, but hopefully things have improved somewhat with no recurrence of the calf pain to date. The run was a positive in the sense it showed I was in good form despite being injured and despite having not run much in May. It was also a bit frustrating as I think that, without the calf issues, I could have gone quite a few seconds quicker. I may have another stab at a 5K later in the year, but for now I will have to be happy with the 16:57.