May 31, 2007

My Stubborn Pet Calf

According to Wikipedia, a calf is the young of a certain species of mammal. The term is mainly used for the young of cattle, though the youngs of dolphins, whales, giraffes, bison, hippopotamuses, rhinoceroses, yaks and hephalumps are also called calves. Calf leather, according to this highly reliable source, is particularly valuable because of it's softness and fine grain.

According to Me-pedia, a calf is not particularly valuable nor is it very pliable. To the contrary, a calf is rather worthless because of it's inflexibility and string-like musculature. In fact, a calf is rather frustrating due to it's firmness, stubbornness and controlling behavior in my life. I don't like calves. I don't like calves at all. I am angered by calves. Actually, left calves I have no problems with at this point. Right calves? I have no affection for right calves. Right calves are dead to me.

I ice, I stretch, I coddle, I massage. But during every training period of every year there comes a time when my calf becomes an ass. All may be going fine, we're working hard together and getting along. Then, just as suddenly, with no advanced warning whatsoever.... it stops. Just like that....


I've had enough of this bullshit, my calf says to me with a heavy, tired sign. It's over. I'm not moving anymore - you can go on without me. Have fun. Send postcards.

I get confused at these comments. But..... But.....I can't go on without you, I plead to my calf. You are the thing that enables me to go forward. I need you. You complete me.

Welp, I guess you're screwed then, Bucko, the calf will reply in what I have to admit is a bit of an obnoxious tone.

This immediately gets me all riled up. I don't like the attitude and I definitely don't like being called Bucko - by one of my body parts, nonetheless. What was a nice calm conversation has suddenly turned rather hostile.

I'm NOT screwed! I yell back. You WILL move! We WILL run. MOVE DAMMIT! RUN!!

I force myself to push forward, dragging the calf with me. But it doesn't want to budge. It stings me with the kind of intense pain that sears up my spine and forces me to stand still. I plead and beg. Please work with me. Please move. For the love of all things holy, just a few more steps!

But the calf refuses to listen. It gives me the silent treatment.

I hate the silent treatment.

OK, calf, I'll say in my most beseechingly reconciliatory tone. How about we make a deal, eh? How about this....Why don't we go home together as friends. We'll take it nice and easy for the rest of the way, no pain, no worries. And when we get home and everything feels fine, I'll treat you to a nice cool drink of ice and a massage. How's that sound? Enticing huh?

And I'll try to set off on a slow jog again, thinking I've lured him into an unruffled acquiescence. But the calf hurts, it will have nothing of it.

Go fuck yourself, the calf says to me.

That pretty much sucks all the beseech and most of the reconciliatory right out of me.

Fuck me?! FUCK YOU!!!

I scream and yell and hit trees. I hold back tears and sit myself down on the curb. Within a few minutes I will stand up and limp home.

The first 10 minutes of the limp will be fueled by a barrage of anger. How can this happen to me every year. This isn't fair. This sucks!

The last part of the limp brings me a bit more serenity because, after all, it is what it is. I am plagued with fragile calves that just can't seem to withstand the constant pounding and an increasingly demanding training schedule. Every year, just as the speed part of the training bursts into the limelight, the calf stands still.

I get frustrated every year that I'm not running faster than the year before. I think of the days when I would practically fly down the road, when my feet barely even touched the ground. But I suppose it all makes sense. I can't get fast unless I do the speed work. And I can't do the speed work unless my calves want to play. And apparently they're just not the playful types.

I haven't run in four weeks. I am going to try and go for a slow, easy jog tonight. But I know my calf can be an ass, so I'm trying to be as friendly as possible. Hopefully it will turn out fine.

Can't we all just get along?


Andra Sue said...

Interesting...both our blogs have pictures of, ahem, donkies on them today. But mine has a hat.

And we are both complaining about stupid and frustrating injuries to uncooperative body parts.


j. said...

i'd gladly trade you one of my hamstrings for a working calf... in fact, i'm having a special sale: buy one hamstring get a donkey free

hak said...

To file in the For What It's Worth department: I had a similar issue with my calf last year. I could feel it tighten during the run and then if I landed a bit off or lengthened my stride from old man in a walker to old man shuffling, it would go "POP!".

Felt like someone jabbed an ice pick in my leg...right in the lower third of the calf.

I would let it heal, get a massage, ice, etc. Just as it was getting better, POP. The SOB would go again.

Finally, the trick was getting it worked on by an ART practictioner who spend two excruciating weeks busting up the adhesions in the calf and with me doing specific stretching (not the regular calf stretch) that allowed the muscle fibers to grow back straight, instead of gnarled (scar tissue/adhesion).

I've been good for nearly four months and can have a normal stride again.

The second key is that I do that specific stretch every morning to keep my Soleus limber.


j. said...

thanks for the great advice, hak. ART - I'm going to look into that one.