It’s a fine balance between listening to your body (and stopping) and pushing yourself beyond your (perceived) limits, so that you get better, stronger, faster….
This is particularly apposite right now, unfortunately. But it is actually something that has been close to home for a long time.
When I was in my teens, I studied at the Royal College of Music. My life was music: every day was filled with practice, orchestra rehearsals, choirs, music music music….
Then, I developed tenosinavitus in my wrists. This basically means “crippling pain in your tendons. Espeically when you do things you love…. like… playing the flute… playing the piano… writing, even….”
What do you do when you’re a teenager and it hurts to do the things you love doing? You carry on, of course! Until you physically cannot pick up your flute any more. Then you give up, you cry tears of frustration, and you stop playing the flute for… well… 6 months or more.
(you also have to dictate all your GCSE exams to an amanuensis, as you can’t write them, either)
So… I learned at a relatively young age that it is not worth pushing through pain. You have to listen to your body. You have to stop. Doesn’t mean I always heed this. I had to dictate one set of university exams, too, when wrist pain reared its ugly head later on. But I know, from bitter experience, that you just have to stop sometimes.
On Thursday, I was due to go swimming. I haven’t swum for ages. Weeks? Months? I’m not sure. But a long time. So, I guess I was nervous about re-starting. The first week back is always the hardest. I had a sore throat. I was tired. I rang J and told him I wasn’t going to go swimming. I wanted to have an early night, instead.
“What do you mean? You don’t sound like you have a sore throat. You always “have a sore throat” when you don’t want to go swimming. You’re chickening out!”
J is always more blunt than tactful! But he was right. Tired or not; sore throat or not, the main reason I wasn’t going was because I was “chickening out”.
So I went swimming, and I had a great session in the end. And I was so glad I’d gone. The chickening out thing was a bit of a theme that night, as I also chickened out of swimming my nemesis-stroke, butterfly, during the first set. It was my first week back, after all! I never learned how to do it as a child, so I have had to learn it as an adult. It’s not graceful, and I feel shattered after a couple of strokes. And I’m still learning how to do it.
The coach picked me up on it. I stuttered some excuse about not being able to do it.
“What do you mean you can’t swim butterfly? Do you mean physically? Or mentally?”
Well… both…. people laugh at me when I do it. Really!
So, he watched, and told me it “wasn’t that bad” and he’d “seen worse”…. I took a deep breath, carried on, re-tried, and did a few lengths of it. At one point, I did 25m without stopping!! So, again, it was worth pushing through, and not chickening out.
But here comes the inevitable footnote. And please don’t let it be the start of something.
I’ve increased my mileage and frequency of running over the past couple of weeks. I have been cautious. I’ve slowed my pace. But I have been going out of the door more often to run.
J has been making the odd comment “are you sure you need to run this often?” “why don’t you just increase your long run, and stick with fewer runs each week?” I didn’t react well! He manages to run marathons on 2 or 3 runs per week, and very low mileage. And he runs sub-3 hour marathons on that! I just see this as a sign that he’s a natural runner. So I didn’t see how he could apply anything he does to me! I just told him I was being cautious, and that I knew what I was doing. Famous last words….
I have pain in the base of my leg. I’m not sure if it’s my achilles, or not. But it might be.
I have listened to my body. I have binned my crazy idea to run 4 times per week. I have re-done my Asics plan, and inputted a 3-times-per-week frequency. There’s no need for me to increase the number of runs I do yet. I’m not doing the marathon til next year. My main aim right now is to just keep running, to stay injury free, and to prepare a good base for next year when I WILL have to increase what I’m doing. Also, I am always doing lots of cycling. And I’m determined to get to the swimming pool at least once per week… So overall, that is enough.
The pain in my leg started after I ran on Wednesday, but it had eased off by this morning, and I ran (5 miles). However, it’s sore again tonight. I have to keep an eye on it, don’t I? I don’t want to stop. I don’t want to stop….. Not yet….