Two TENS units, that is. I received my 4 channel TENS unit in the mail yesterday. This is a machine that has EIGHT electrodes. My old one only has four (it has two channels). Imagine the possibilities with double the electrodes! Something like that could really beat the crap out of me while I run. Perfect.
I couldn't wait to try it out. So I did. In case you're not well-versed in TENS units (I hope, for your sake, that you're not), there are different kinds of modes. There is a constant mode, where the electricity is given, well, constantly. Then there is something called a burst mode. This one delivers bursts of electricity, and it's akin to getting punched. I have tried the constant mode, and it's not strong enough. I rely on burst mode at the highest intensity. Well, the new TENS has a burst mode. Except...in this mode...it will only go up to 5 Hz. The booklet reads that this limit is set because going above that in this mode would be far too intense. On my old TENS, it goes up to 150 Hz in this mode. Well, the 5 Hz burst mode just wasn't going to cut it. I have to turn my TENS up all the way....every single run. I was sort of bummed. Then Tim said "Why don't you just wear both TENS units?"
Hey! That's a great idea! It means I'll be carrying an extra pound or so, but it's probably worth it. I quickly tested to see if they'd fit in my dorky fanny pack. They do. So...I can have 12 electrodes hooked to me. 4 of them will be bursting, and the other 8 I can set on continuous mode at the 150 Hz.
So I tried it today. First of all, that's a LOT of electrodes to wear. I felt like a suicide bomber when I headed out for 6 miles. It was a glorious sight--I had the electrodes everywhere. In every spot where I ever get pain. I've never had that luxury before. I turned both units all the way up. Within a mile, I realized that was just too much. I felt like I couldn't breathe. I ended up turning the new TENS down to about half strength, and that was much better. The other thing is--I really noticed the extra weight in the fanny pack.
I'm not totally sure if I'm going to wear both or just the one on race day. I'm confident that if I wear both, it can cover up the pain, but the extra weight will annoy me. And slow me down...but, what? Maybe 3 seconds a mile? I'm willing to give it up.
This was not an easy or particularly enjoyable run. First, I'd had NO sleep. Rowan is very sick and was up all night. Second, the antibiotics I'm on are making me feel pretty awful (though my pain is somewhat better). I just feel fatigued and have no appetite. And, thus, third, I hadn't eaten anything when I went out to run. Nothing hurt (in terms of legs)...it just felt...labored. That scared me. I'm almost tapered--isn't this supposed to feel easy now? I found myself completely doubting my fitness. Did I run enough 20s? (I ran 7). I haven't run 20 for two weeks! I don't even remember what it feels like to run a 20. I'll never be able to do it. Tim tells me it's completely normal to feel this way. Taper madness. But I was shocked to find myself so doubtful of my fitness and abilities. Hoping it all comes together on race day.