"Running won't kill you, you'll pass out first."
This used to be one of my favorite quotes. I used it as my senior quote
in high school. Before high school I, like many people, viewed running
more as something you do only when someone is chasing you. Running makes
me feel a little bit special because I choose to do something that is
not easy. In choosing this quote, I was identifying myself as a
runner... kind of snarky one at that. I felt that it embodied my
philosophy of just putting my head down and going the distance, even if
you get there last. Then one day, my husband collapsed at the end of a
five mile run and stopped breathing. Suddenly this quote seemed a whole
lot less amusing.
Now don't get me wrong, I understand that this quote is meant to be
funny and many others like it aren't actually suggesting you run/work
out until you die - but I think it is important to remember to exercise
(no pun intended) a little bit of caution.
In my husband's case, he hadn't been working out much and was dehydrated which
led to an escalation that ended in heat stroke in 60 degree weather and a
permanently disabling muscular condition. The sergeant that was in
charge wanted to punish him for being out of shape, and pushed him to
keep going (ah, but that's an angry rant for another day) far past what his body could handle.
The point I'm trying to get to is that sometimes you can push too hard.
As runners, I think most of us know this line pretty well. I know that
my bad knee will usually hurt for about the first mile, but that it will
pass, or that my left ankle gets stiff after a good workout but will
loosen up if I walk for a bit. When I used to have trouble with asthma, I
knew exactly how hard I could push on a run before I needed to either
back down or grab an inhaler. We all have those little things that we
are in tune with. I think the danger comes when we venture into
uncharted territory - conditions or terrain we're unfamiliar with - or when we allow peer pressure, pride, or someone of authority to override our instincts.
I am struggling with this a bit right now with my pelvis/back situation.
I can usually "gut" out a run on tired legs, or when my bad knee is
bugging me, but I have no frame of reference for whether pushing past
the pain could make things worse in this case. So far, I've been erring
on the side of caution and trying to let my body heal after having a
baby, but sometimes it's hard. I just want to prove that I can do it no
matter what. I've always been proud of the fact that when I set my mind
on something, I can just duck my head and keep going until I get there. I
have to keep reminding myself that that's not always the smartest move. Sometimes pain means you should stop. Sometimes you have to take it easy - no matter how hard that is :O).
Does anyone else have trouble backing down when they know they should?