Fair warnings guys:
1. I’m not writing this from my Italian chateau, so there’s that disappointment we all have to cope with (I’m sorry).
And 2. This post is going to be extremely sentimental and definitely cheesy, so if that’s not your flavor today, time to bail. See you on Monday.
So for those of you people looking for some brilliant insight, here we go.
Thursday was a bit of a tough day for me. Emotionally, I was just not in a good place. I was taking things very personally, creating problems in my head, and overall was behaving like a little dysfunctional shell of anxiety and pain. So, naturally, I went for a run to cope with all my feelings.
Going into the run I knew I didn’t want to make it about pace or distance. I threw my training plan out the window and just let my emotions take over (read: I sprung off my doorstep like a bat out of Hell and died about 3 miles later). And in that time, I DID sort some things out and reached a brilliant-new-to-me-insight that strangely enough, brought me a lot of comfort. Stick with me, and maybe it’ll do the same for you.
Now, we’ve all heard that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Most of the time the annoying person who says that is simply trying to say, “slow down and pace yourself.” But life really IS like a marathon, and in more ways than one. The one aspect I want to focus on today is very up lifting. It’s the element of pain.
As most experienced marathoners know, you can rarely—if ever—get through 26.2 miles without dealing with some “discomfort.” (Lol, it’s gonna huuuuurt). The good news (?) is, this happens to everyone, so you’re not alone. The maybe-bad-news is, you’re going to have to deal with it, more or less alone. SOUNDS LIKE ANOTHER EXPERIENCE WE’VE ALL SHARED, EH?
In marathons and in life, everyone experiences pain and everyone deals with it differently. How we choose to do so is based on a variety of factors: our past experiences, our training, our mental toughness, how we’re built, etc. So, taking all of these things into account I’ve thought of four ways you can deal with discomfort when it comes your way.
- You can distract yourself. Music! Crowds! Counting!….Netflix! Hobbies! RUNNING! Distracting yourself is a great and effective way of dealing with pain. Your real life therapist may suggest you have repression issues, but he/she isn’t here and I say keep on keepin’ on. Here’s the catch though: this isn’t an option for everyone. Some people (me) are just not wired to do this—in running or in life. I believe you have to have the astounding ability to compartmentalize and unfortunately my brain just doesn’t DO that.
- You can help someone else cope with their pain. “The best way to help yourself is to help someone else.” Very true and helpful for running and life. There’s usually someone who is hurting just as much, if not more, than you. Find them and help them power through. If all goes according to plan, you’ll both feel better.
- Dwell. NOTE: THIS IS NOT HEALTHY AND I DO NOT RECOMMEND IT. I can say that because this is my technique (AND MY BLOG). When my feelings are hurt or I’m certain my legs are about to fall off, I can’t stop thinking about it. I overthink it to death and as a result, come up with a whole slew of new problems. Not only is this a major downer, but it also makes everything much harder—including recovery. I just assume it takes me roughly 60-100 days longer than average to recover from a tough race or life challenge, because I beat myself up so much. Don’t do it. Or if you do, STOP IT. Let’s quit together.
- Take. It. On. This is the best method I can think of, and the one I now know I want to use moving forward. I believe that this is what you see elite athletes/brave people do every day. When pain hits, they say, “Hello, pain. Care to go for a run?”, and power through. They learn from it. They embrace it. They take in only that which makes them stronger (+10 points to your House if you get that reference). They don’t shy away from it, they don’t dwell on it. They simply accept it as fact and go with it.
Guys, we’re all going to face pain in life. There’s just no way to avoid it. Trust me, I’ve tried. But when you can get to the point where you accept it as a simple side effect of life (and marathons) you can stop fearing it so much. And well, I’ve HEARD, that’s when “the good stuff”happens. So pop some Advil, put on your running shoes, and embrace the pain. We’ll all be right there beside you.