MY LEGS ARE ON FIRE and other Week 4 observations

I have a meeting early tomorrow morning along with a meeting tomorrow night.  I'd planned to hit Week 4, Day 2 of the Couch to 5K program tomorrow, but seeing my calendar full drove me to move it forward.  I arrived home from the office at about 9:45 and then changed, stretched and hit the road.

I've had some trouble with shin splints, so I've been exercising my shins and stretching them a few times a day since Saturday.  I also added some shin-specific stretches to my warm-up stretch routine.

The flat streets of Savannah spoiled me.  The hills of Tallahassee around my neighborhood immediately increased the intensity of the run.  Even so, the first half came easy and I set a distance record for the first half of my run.  The second half, of course, is almost completely uphill.

I set in the fastest pace I thought I could handle for an uphill climb.  My entire run was based on a new technique I'd read about to avoid over-striding. I leaned forward at my ankles, shortening my stride and keeping my footfalls behind my center of gravity.  This slowed me quite a bit, and it was worse on the return stretch.  About halfway through my 3 minute climb, my legs caught fire.  First my shins started to burn.  Then my knees and calves joined in.  Finally my thighs started to heat up and it was hard to keep going.  My heartbeat was steady and my breathing was easy, so I guess my legs can't keep up with my cardio now.  That's a big change from week 1.

During the 90 second walk my legs screamed for me to stop.  I kept a quick walking pace, and pushed through the pain.  The last 5 minute run was more flat, and I was able to finish relatively strong–and set a total distance record for my Tallahassee course.  My pace was down quite a bit, but I did it.  I ran a total of 16 minutes on the hills around my home.

My legs wanted to cramp on the cool-down walk, but I focused on taking well formed steps and kept a comfortable pace.  I did my cool down stretches and I have almost no shin pain tonight.  My legs are tired, but I don't have the debilitating pain I've had after the last few runs.

That's encouraging because I gained 5 pounds over the weekend.  I did the math, and I'd have to consumer 17,500 excess calories to put that much fat on.  I have to assume a lot of this is due to eating too much salt and a few hundred extra calories while on vacation.  I've also read that the increased runs later in C25K can cause muscle gain and hence weight gain.

I'm hoping the scale will start to reward my efforts again soon.