Web Analytics

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

pushing through pain

This blog post has been ruminating in my mind for weeks, if not months now. Despite the debilitating nature of my headache (yes, still single tense), I exercise almost every day. I mountain bike, trail run, hike. I go to yoga. I lift, I interval train. Some days I have kick-ass workouts, snatching up Queen of the Mountains like it’s my damn job and other days I spend the majority of a yoga class fighting back tears and disputing the inner voice telling me how counterproductive and wasteful my effort is. The point is, I show up and I do it.

I struggle with justifying why though. As an athlete who’s endured my fair share of injuries and setbacks, I truly don’t subscribe to the “no pain, no gain” philosophy. I’m a huge proponent of adequate recovery (both physical and mental), recognizing that’s it too often the missing link of optimal wellbeing and performance. In fact, I just decided this week that I wouldn’t be racing in the McDowell Meltdown (mtb race) on Saturday. I know I could do it because I rode the race course last week, just to re familiarize myself with it in case something miraculous happened between now and then, but if I’m going to pay the registration fee and make a day of it, I just don’t want to be in pain. There’ll be plenty more races. (That last sentence is Craig’s voice speaking to me...can you tell?)

I’m pretty preceptive though, so I know when that when people catch a glimpse of my leg (spoiler alert…this is gross), what they’re really thinking is, “um..what the hell is wrong with you? You have a chronic pain condition from a bike injury and you still ride your bike and do stupid shit like that? Find a new hobby.” Actually, a physical therapist did make that suggestion once. That’s when you knew someone just isn’t speaking your language. Side note: in the few minutes after this wreck last week, I was definitely less focused on my headache...soo how about that?

All bloody cuts aside, it gets me thinking….why do I push through pain?

1. Because I have to. Ok, sorry…starting out a little tongue in cheek, I know. But the reality is, when you’re in pain twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, there’s only one alternative…inactivity. Though this isn’t the case for everyone with chronic pain, my symptoms aren’t mitigated by “taking it easy”. When it comes down to it, I’d rather have a headache and squeeze in a 20 minute metabolic circuit than have a headache and watch House Hunters (don’t be silly, I still watch House Hunters, just after). It doesn’t mean I don’t listen to my body and calibrate my day accordingly; it’s just my way performing a cost-benefit analysis.

2. Pain is stressful. As I explained to Craig in my latest meltdown earlier this week, feeling frustrated is really f-ing exhausting. Believe me, I try not to “sweat the small stuff”, but it feels so frustrating to wake up every morning (and sometimes throughout the night) in pain, spend the day working with physical therapists, etc. without any relief, and then wake up the next day in pain, and the next day, and the next day (you get the idea). For me, physical activity is a HUGE source of stress relief. And sometimes simply going through the motions (Shavasnah anyone?) is enough, which is why consistency is key. Don’t get my wrong, I’ve spent my fair share of time lying on the couch these past few months, but on days when I’m feeling most discouraged, that’s just about the worst place for me to be.

3. Working out reminds me that I don’t hate my body. This sounds weird, but bear with me. You know when you buy, let’s say, a new dishwasher…and it just sort of sucks. Like it’s not doing it’s job. It’s way too loud, it’s constantly clogging, and the dishes come out with shit all over them? And you want to just say, “screw it, I don’t want this anymore. It’s causing me way too many problems. I need a new one”. Well, that’s how I tend to think about my head a lot of the time. I know it’s attached to my body and it’s been with me since the beginning and it holds all of thoughts, blah blah blah…but sometimes I really want to take it to a store and return it for one that doesn’t agonize me every day. HOWEVER, every physical accomplishment I make reminds me to be proud of what my body’s capable of, whether it’s moving up to 100 lbs in my single leg RDLs or winning my category in a mountain bike race, or even progressing through an arm balance at yoga. It sounds a bit cliche, but experiencing the end-result or reward of dedication and mental strength makes me believe that all of the hard work (physical and emotional) that is going in to making me pain-free WILL pay off.

Here's to hoping that day comes really soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment