I used to be a runner. Well, more specifically, I was a soccer player and that came with running. I could run forever. But since I hurt my knee, I haven’t done a lot of running at all. I cannot call myself a runner anymore.
On Saturday, I was looking out into the sunshine dreading going inside the gym. I don’t usually dread the gym. In fact, I love it. But it was the idea that it might be our only day of sunshine that got to me. So instead of going to the gym, I put on my running shoes, and decided I was going to give it a try.
I’m pretty strong right now from all my gym days, and my cardio is doing pretty well. It wasn’t the effort that got to me at first, but the knee pain.
It’s not a terrible pain, only remnants of the injury. I get this pressure at the front button of my knee that sort of annoys me more than anything. But if I push through it, it goes away. Once that’s gone, I can run without much problem.
I ran for a long time, which was a ton of fun. I did over 3 miles in 52 minutes. I set a slow pace, that someone could speed walk too, and kept going. When my body was really warmed up, I went faster. My last mile was faster than my first mile. Once or twice I even put a real jump to my step and pushed. It went really, really well. When I was done, an alarming 52 minutes for my first run :), I felt great. I was excited that i could be a runner again. I was excited that I was strong enough and fit enough to go for so long (even thought, as I said before, it was a slow pace). I was nothing but excited about the entire experience.
Then Sunday came. Good lord, I was sore. My quads and hamstrings and calves were a little sore, but fine. But really got me was all the joints. Not the joints themselves,s but the little muscles that hold you all together. The stabilizer muscles. My knees, ankles and hips all hurt. I felt a little like I was falling apart. I was excited about being sore, but a little concerned about the pain. At first I thought it was the joint itself. But here’s a tip, you can’t stretch a join so that it feels better. For my hips, I sat on the second step, but my foot sideways on my upright knee, and leaned forward over my leg. Sort of a half lotus elevated. It stretch out the exact spot in my hip that hurt, and it felt amazing!! My knees and ankles loved the lean. Stand a few feet from a wall, put your hand on the wall, and then lean your hip towards the wall keeping your feet a few feet away. It stretches your hip, your knee and your outer ankle. Amazing.
Because I know it’s the muscles, I realize more of how the gym can make you strong without making you strong. My major muscles were able to take the abuse and push forward, those little muscle had to come out of hibernation. Running works your entire body. It works everything to push you forward and keep you upright. People who say ‘running in the gym isn’t the same as running’ drive me crazy because no one is arguing that. When I go to the gym to do cardio, I don’t think I’m outside running, I think I’m doing cardio. I’m strengthening my heart and lunges, and shedding fat. If I wanted to run outside, I would run outside.
Now a better argument is that running in the gym doesn’t work out all your stabilizer muscles the way running outside does. That way, if you wanted to work out those muscles, you know how. There are ways to mimic it at the gym, but it takes a different focus and specif exercise. It might end up being easier just running outside.
When I went to the personal training a few weeks back, she told me that I should focus on a whole body workout so I don’t miss all those little in between muscles. I think this proves she’s right. Heading into spring and summer, my goal is going to be to do my cardio out and about, to strengthen my body and all it’s little muscles, and then use the gym for specific, targeted muscles groups. I think that will help me get an overall workout without having to make my gym routine super complicated. I’ll start hiking and biking again, and pick up my running once more. Once the weather gets warmer this will be a little easier, to right now I’m going to stick with ‘if it’s sunny, then I go outside.’