Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Legs NOT hurting?

Please help resolve this on-going marital dispute!

What does it mean if your legs are NOT hurting after a hard race?

My legs always hurt after a race. Later the same day. Even more the next day. And the day after that, and so on. Sometimes I am even unable to run for a couple of days. This is especially true for long races, of course, but it also happens with short races, like a 5K. For example, after the Half Marathon on Sunday, my legs (quads, etc) were hurting later on Sunday, also on Monday, even today (Tuesday).

<--- Liz struggling at mile 13 the half. Yet, her legs did not hurt after the race. What gives?

On the other hand, my wife's legs NEVER hurt! I keep asking her after every race: "Do your legs hurt?" Her response: "No". "Not even a bit?", "Not at all".

"Then," I say "you did not try hard enough".

And there is where the argument starts. She insists that she ran as fast and as hard as possible, but still her legs do not hurt. How is this possible?

How is it possible to give 110% and not pay for it (with pain)?

I don't get it.

After I wrote this, and posted in a running email discussion list, most people said that they did not understand it either and offered explanations like "maybe she does not want to admit that she is hurting".

I had a long discussion with her. She says that her hips felt a bit tight and her Achilles tendon slightly tender (she had problems with both Achilles tendons and her hips in the past) but she has absolutely no muscle pain. If you hit my quads right now, I will jump up and screem. She feels nothing.

She also shows another unusual characteristic: Her training runs are even and fast. But her race pace drops and her final time in the race is slower than a training run!

Example: 2 weeks before her first half, she ran a training run at the Towpath, 13.2 miles at 9:32 fairly even pace. The Towpath is flat but slow due to less friction. This good training run led her to believe that she could achieve 2 hours in the race. Her target race pace was 9:20. Sounds possible, based on this training run.

In the actual race her mile splits were: 8:57, 8:55, 8:46, 9:04, 9:13, 9:22, 9:37, 9:33. Up to this point (first 8 miles) things look good. But look what happened next: 9:52, 10:03, 10:39, 10:34, 11:04.

Average pace = 9:45.

Most people (myself included) can race faster than they train. If I could cover the distance at 9:30 pace when training, then for sure I could do a 9:00 average pace in the race, most likely 8:30 (one minute faster in the race vs. training).

Maybe she started too fast and this caused the melt-down at the end (the last 11 min/mile is very uncharacteristic for her... even her slowest training miles are faster than 10:30 min/mile). She swears that the first miles did not feel fast and she has no explanation for the melt-down at the end. She likes to blame the hot weather & sun, but the weather was not hot and the course was well-shaded :)

So, she remains a mystery to me :)

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