Running Windy Hill


Saturday, 16 Feb 2013

I had a few things to do today, so I didn’t want to go off on a full-day hike. I went to Windy Hill, instead, but decided to run the route as a way of increasing the challenge level. Beautiful day, lots of people out. The parking lot was full, and I had to leave the car at the Portola Valley town center, which is said to be 0.4 miles from the Windy Hill parking lot.

I am not strong enough to run all the way up the hill, but I alternated running and fast walking to keep my heart rate well into the yellow zone, if not red. Starting from the parking lot, I consider myself as doing well if I make it to the Skyline parking area in an hour; today it was 50 minutes and from a more distant starting point. Nice. And I completed the whole circuit in less than two hours (8.1 miles, 1600 vertical feet).

When I first started running many years ago, I made the mistake of running hard on a downhill and damaging my knees. Having just started running at the time, I probably didn’t have the muscular strength around the knee joints to properly stabilize them. I have avoided running downhill since then, but today I gave it a try: my knees are reasonably well-behaved, and I probably do have muscular stabilization. Older and wiser, I also ran gently, tried to avoid impact as much as I could. Bottom line: I was able to run the entire downhill. Nice. The first time I have ever run more than a trivial distance downhill.

Of course, I may be sore tomorrow. We’ll find out [note from tomorrow: a little bit, not much]. Muscular action that results in elongation under load (running downhill) is called eccentric. My anatomy text says

For reasons that are not well understood, repeated eccentric isotonic contractions (for example, walking [sic] downhill) produce more muscle damage and more delayed-onset muscle soreness than do concentric isotonic contractions.

Now the question is whether I log this as a hike or as a run. A run, I think; it hardly counts as a hike, but as a run, it’s significant.

One of the other things I wanted to do today was wash my new car, for the first time since I got it in October. Yes, I admit it: washing cars (and bicycles) is one of my least favourite pastimes. Note to self: one of the disadvantages of white cars is that it’s hard to get them clean!


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