So, I’m at the top of this mountain about 5 miles into a 12 mile race looking down the craggy basalt single track. I haven’t done much uphill running, which means I haven’t done any downhill running, which means that the next 1800 of 3700 vertical feet will likely be less than comfortable. No time to spare, this is a race. I take two steps forward and start my descent, thinking “this is gonna hurt.”
Two days later, I stand at the top of my apartment steps. I’m on the second floor, getting upstairs last night was pretty hard, which means getting down will be much worse. The downhill muscles hurt the most, the stabilizers in my quads and outsides of my ankles. Even the slightest descent jabs my dormant cells to life, sending electric shoots through the outsides of my legs and halting movement in the name of self defense.
“You’re kind of like a cow,” says my friend. “They can’t go downstairs, either.”
We’ve passed May 1st, so (in case you haven’t been on social media lately) training is happening again. APU went rollerskiing, Team Gregg did intervals, Jessie went for a run. Annie Hart is lifting weights while a handful of people are still skiing on snow. It’s time to get back into the swing of training, and the nordic world is PSYCHED. And I was, too, enough to jump into a pretty strenuous event my second day of training.
That was fine though, because, truth is, it doesn’t matter what you’re going to do this time of the year, you’re going to be sore.
I know a lot of athletes that revel in their soreness. “I love to be sore,” they say, “it means I’ve done something.”
Based on my physical condition right now, I can say with confidence:
Y’all’re lying to yourselves.
I like activities. I like improvement. I love getting muscular. I also like being able to move. No one actually likes being sore, you just say that to rub into the faces of those around you that you’re doing more than them. And I hear you! I do it too (re-read intro paragraph for subtle activity bragging about my soreness).
Do we like soreness or don’t we?
So many people are confused by their soreness that they even have a slightly patronizing WebMD article about it: “it is common to experience muscle soreness, say experts.” Thanks guys, you and your experts make me feel less alone.
But, the interesting thing about endurance-y soreness is that, like our activities themselves, it lasts longer. According to the internet, sports that engage lengthening of your muscle (i.e. downhill running, rollerskiing, our lives) cause microtraumas in your muscle that catch calcium stores in your muscle, slowing cellular respiration and lengthening the time for ATP to clear out that calcium. The process of removing that calcium then takes up to 72 hours, which is why my typical spring out of bed this morning resembled something akin to:
I have to admit, it does make me feel a little better that my soreness is special. I don’t want to sound like an elitist athlete or anything (see what I did there?), but it’s kind of fun to think that my soreness is unique because I did something of a certain breed of epic.
But I still don’t love it.
That’s really all I have to say. I’m going to go take an ice bath and get over it. Happy New Year everyone!