I awoke at 5am this morning...err, 6am, due to DST and drove out to run my old benchmark course in the Verdugos from Morning Glow, up to the spine of the Verdugos, and along the crest for 10 miles, then return for a total of 20 miles. It was a spectacular, crystal clear morning that started cold and got hot. The view from the crest of the Verdugos is stunning, the San Gabriels looked like I could reach out and touch them.
The route follows a steep trail for 1.5 miles until it reaches the crest fire road. I walked most of this- paranoid about the need to warm up the calves properly before starting the running. Unlike my runs in the San Gabriels since January, where I have walked up (and up and up), summited, and then ran down, this day I ran most of the way except for a few steep sections. I figure I ran about 16 miles, walked 4.
My time was 3:42, off the benchmark 3:18 from last November and my typical 3:25 on this course. But the big difference again was- no knee pain at all. This is the longest run (as opposed to run/walk) I have done since transitioning to the minimalist shoes (previous longest was 10 miles run out of 20 total). It really felt great. Only one point where my calves were a bit tight et voila I hit a hill, walked up it about a half mile until the grade lessened and that loosened the calves back up. Its been a while since I've done extended uphill running, so it was good to see the calves and knees survived just the same.
Another difference. I ran with just a 1.5 liters of water; usually on this route I take 3-4 liters (there is no water en route). I felt fine. I did guzzle a liter of cold soda water/coke mix after the run (Jack in the box en route home) as I was a bit parched by the end.
The previous week was a scheduled rest week where I chopped the mileage and cut out the long weekend run for a rest up. My calves had been feeling "brittle" so I needed a rest. Indeed 2 days into the rest week, after my last long run (Mt Wilson, 20 miler) I went out in rush for a lunchtime run from work, without walking the usual mile warm up, and suffered a minor ping in the right lateral soleus after a mile and a half. I stopped and walked home- walked a three days without running, got some ART and its been fine since..but the lesson is: warm up, and don't run while still sore from a big run- let the muscle soreness dissipate first.