If you've been reading this blog recently, or if you follow me on Twitter, you'll see that I'm training for the Charlotte, NC Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, (see mmy blog entry Breast Cancer and the Podiatrist) a 39.3 mile charity walk in October. It's a full marathon the first day, and a half marathon the second day, so there's no way to "fake" it: you have to train for several months leading up to it to prevent stress fractures, tendinitis, and other over-use injuries.
This past weekend I decided to start my long training day off with a 5k run before slowing down and walking the rest of my distance, and I managed a new personal 5k best (yay!). Once I slowed to a walk, I found a good movie on the gym TV in front of me and tried not to get bored.
Turns out the movies and TV shows available on this particular Sunday were quite entertaining, but just as I passed the half marathon distance (13.1 miles) I started feeling uncomfortably tight in a few of my muscles. I stopped and took a long stretch and water break, and then jumped back on the treadmill to push through to my 15 mile goal.
Later that evening the tightness in my legs turned into actual cramping, and I was super sore the next day at work. What happened? I checked myself out, looking for injuries, but none of my specific tendons, ligaments, or joints seemed to be the source of my discomfort. Finally it dawned on me: hydration.
I'd been sipping at my bottle of water the whole time I was on the treadmill, but that obviously wasn't enough. The TV in front of me had done TOO good a job of distracting me from the fact that I was exercising--and exercising a LOT. My husband had a good time teasing me once I figured out what I'd done wrong: he does Ironman and other triathlon events, and proceeded to give me a big lecture over dinner about how important proper hydration is when training.
My first instinct had been to look for the source of my discomfort in the area that I hurt (my foot and leg) when really the root of the problem was a systemic issue. This is often the case in medicine: perceived foot pain may be due to a bulging disc in your lower back, or because of an electrolyte imbalance that can be corrected with a diet change or vitamins. The opposite can be true as well: occasionally your back or knee pain is something that can be fixed by aligning your feet with custom orthotics or braces.
And last but not least, I still have yet to reach my fundraising goal for the walk in October, so if you're inclined, please click here to visit my personal Walker Page and hit the Donate Now button. No donation is too small, and every little bit helps! Thanks for your support!