Monday, May 23, 2016

Don't Let Pain Stop You

As I mentioned in my last post, I ran a marathon 8 days ago. My body was obliterated afterwards. I had a lot of trouble going up and down the stairs. Everything hurt. About all I could do was lie in bed all of the next day.

I still got up and ran 5 miles the day after my marathon. Then I ran again the following day. And the day after that. And the day after that. I've run every single day since my marathon: A total of 42 miles in the seven days after that Sunday.

On Saturday (2 days ago), I did 6 sets of deadlifts. Then I ran 10 miles. Yesterday, even though my glutes were fried, I ran 7 miles and biked 12.

Most of my friends told me I should "rest". To let my body "heal". To take a few days off. But I wasn't injured. I was just sore. Really really sore. But being tired and hurting isn't a reason to be lazy. It's an excuse.

I don't let pain stop me.

I'm not saying this to show off. And most of you will likely think I'm crazy. Fine. While I was doing my 80 Day Deadlift Challenge, I lifted 6 days a week, and ran 6 or 7 days a week. And what I discovered is that the body is an amazing machine that is capable of doing anything you ask it to. Oh sure it will complain, via pain, soreness, and exhaustion. But once you get going, that strength will be there.

Running a sub 5 minute pace in this photo despite being tired.
Photo Cr. Geoffrey Brown

It is important to listen to your body, to avoid injury. Over the Christmas break, I ran too much and injured my calves. But I kept running (gently), and the pain vanished after less than a week. But many folks take the "listen to your body" mantra a little too much too heart. My body almost never "wants" to exercise. And it almost always wants to eat. If I "listened" to my body all the time, I would go back to being a fat bum who just drinks whiskey on the couch all day long.

What I pay attention to - and what gets me going every day despite being in pain - is routine. Routine. I've talked about routine before. It's magic. Seriously. But the only way to make routine keep working for you is that you have to follow your routine, every day. Because if you take a break, even for only one day, your brain starts to think, "well I took off one day and it wasn't a big deal. Maybe I'll take this day off too. Just relax and eat. That sounds nice, doesn't it?"

As long as I'm physically capable of getting up and getting out the door, I will do so. Pain doesn't matter. A friend recently shared this image with me. I usually only post pics that I or a friend have taken, but I love this too much not to share it.

I <3 Pain! Photo Cr..... Um Spongebob I guess
The poster on the wall is amazing. I spent about 20 minutes online looking for one just like it. I'll probably have to make my own. And hang it on my wall. Because that's the kind of a$$hole I am.

But seriously. You could go through your whole life taking the easy way out. Taking a break when the going gets tough. Giving up on your plans and dreams because they seem too hard. "Listening to your body." Real success takes brutally hard work. Nobody would tell Michael Phelps that he needs to take a day off of swimming. Nobody even questions his dedication. So how come it's ok for people to question my dedication?

I get it. They're trying to be helpful. But they're not pointing out my limitations. They're pointing out their own. But just because they can't run 8 miles on sore legs doesn't mean they should tell me that I can't. That's doing me a disservice. Giving my sneaky brain yet more ammo to get me to live the lazy life of my ancestors. Instead of telling me what I can't do, maybe these folks should be pushing themselves to see what they're capable of.

I think they'd be amazed.

I bet this guy never looked for excuses to surrender.
Painting by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861).
Photo taken at Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

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