So…. thought I would touch base with my tens of millions of readers. I’m sure that if I don’t say something the slathering hordes that are clamoring for me to favor them with a word or two will grumble and gnash their teeth. Who am I to disappoint them? 😉
Unfortunately, I haven’t really had much to write about as nothing much has happened. There’s always been snow on the ground so I haven’t been able to run outside. I have been spending a ton of time on the trainer, but telling people about time on the trainer is much like telling people about dreams. The only person who really wants to hear about them is your psychiatrist, and that’s only because you pay him/her a couple of benjamins an hour to listen to you.
So I plug away, realizing that I’m only a hair more than a month away from my first brevet. I’ve already got a lot of long rides under my belt, so 200k is certainly doable, but I can’t get cocky. The Beast has been my constant workhorse and companion for my commutes through ice and snow, and he’s rarin’ to go for some real miles.
I did my first run in ages last Thursday, when the weather dared me not to go. I had 10 happy miles, including a rollicking descent on 13th. I know that the runners reading this post seeing “rollicking”, “decent” and “happy” used in the same sentence along with “first run in ages” in the previous sentence cringing already. So yeah, I got to spend the weekend with DOMS.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness happens when your muscles do eccentric contraction. You see, muscles are designed to do one thing. Contract. When they contract, they expect to get shorter. You cannot use your massive biceps to punch someone. Those big guns do nothing for extension of the elbow or shoulder. In fact, when you first get a Nintendo Wii, and do the boxing thing, it’s the biceps that pay the price, because they are trying to control you arm extension. When muscles contract, though, they expect to shorten, as if they’re actually doing something. Your muscles REALLY don’t like it if they are firing, trying to shorten, while getting longer. This is called eccentric contraction.
When you do a standard biceps curl, you bring the weight closer to your shoulder by flexing your biceps and moving at the elbow. If your hand is already there and someone gives you a weight that is far too heavy for you to curl, and you try to resist it going to your waist, your biceps is trying to contract, but the weight is still going south, despite it’s best effort. That is an eccentric contraction
Unfortunately, running downhill does the same thing. Usually, when you run, your hamstrings and your glutes (back of the legs and junk-in-the-trunk muscles, respectively) propel you forward. When you run downhill, though, you’re not expending energy to go forward. Instead, you’re expending energy to control your forward pace, to keep from going ass-over-teakettle. So to keep you safe, your legs and hip flexors (and to some extent, your calves) supply some braking force. This braking force means the muscles are acting as they get longer. Eccentric contraction
The mechanisms of DOMS really haven’t been worked out, but they seem to involve microscopic muscle tears. The end result is that the muscle is stiff, sore, and weak for about 3 days, starting the day AFTER your exercise (hence the “delayed” part). The upside is that putting your muscles through this tends to inoculate them against DOMS for 3-6 months. The downside is that it really, REALLY hurts to move! This goes on for about 3 days, and my sentence is finally coming to an end. Probably didn’t help that I had to throw a lot of bikes around at the shop in preparation for Spring.
In other news, I got this…. step #1 in my hopes for preparing for a new gig, but more on that later! (Be quiet and patient, my thundering hordes!)