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Running Pain

Updated: Dec 5, 2020

Running. Running is one of the hobbies I've picked up over this pandemic and it's been great for me. It takes some time, but I use that time to think–to kind of let my thoughts wander while the music is playing in the background–and also get the thoughts a little more organized.

I've never been a runner. I've ridden bikes for a few years. I've done some long bike rides. I've completed the Mid South bike ride here in Stillwater twice and got close a third time (and stretching out from 50 miles to 100 miles next year). I'll talk more about that later. But running has been something that's always been scary to me. It's just you and the road and it's always been difficult.

So, as we had more time over this pandemic and couldn't spend time indoors in gyms, in the beginning, I picked up this hobby of running. I started out running two miles at a time and eventually stretched that to about three miles at a time. Today, I'm about to start my last training run before I start a half marathon tomorrow.

So I'm excited about this journey I'm excited that I'm able to do this. I'm grateful for the opportunity and for the health and ability that I know I won't always have. I'm taking it in and living it while I can.

One thought I wanted to pass on real quickly was a thought I had on my last run, and it was a thought related to pain. I've got pain in my knee that's persistent and I wear a band for that. On this particular run, at the same time I was having some pain in my left ankle and Achilles, I was having some pain in my left knee my right knee is always in pain. And so, I was just considering the nature of pain and what we do with pain.

This is gonna sound deeper than I have the expertise to actually talk about so do your own research come to your own conclusions but these were some of my thoughts. My thought was ultimately that pain–when it's all said and done–is just information. Pain is just the information sent to our brain telling us that something might be wrong.

Now of course, as we developed we need to know when we're in pain. We need to know when we're in danger physically. There's heat nearby. There's something else nearby. There's an ache, there's a pain, we've got to figure that out. So, pain can be useful in averting danger but it can also overreact.

As I was running, I did something a little weird and I just acknowledged my pain verbally. I welcomed the ankle pain to the run–invited it to stick around–because I wasn't stopping. Eventually it went away. I don't know if that's good or bad but that's what happened.

This thought of pain as information left me with a question: Why do we give pain so much weight? When we endure pain physically and emotionally it seems that it can drive our whole life. The fear of pain, the memory of pain. We don't give that much bandwidth to other information in our life.

We don't give that much bandwidth to the weather; we don't remember the time that the weather was really hot two and a half weeks ago or the time that it snowed 13 years ago. (Well maybe we do, but you get my point-we don't let the memory of the weather or the forecast for two days from now affect what we do today.) We give a high level of importance to this particular type of information–pain.

I think it's beneficial to somewhat step back from that information and reflect on it: Am I in danger, or is my pain overreacting? Once we have the information and we look at it amidst all the rest of the information we have, then we can decide if we're safe or not. Should I stop this run or can I keep going?

So, take what you will but that's my thought. Pain is just information. Take the information, use the information. Assimilate it with the rest of the information and then decide how to go on. Don't let pain or the fear of pain stop you from that next step and don't let the memory of pain keep bothering you.

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