A feeling of discomfort made its presence on my left foot the last couple of days. The left foot is the foot I injured last spring after frantically pursuing a marathon goal of 4:20. While I did achieve my goal, I spent six weeks on the sidelines healing from a ruptured plantar fascia. So, two days ago, when the dull and not-so-intense pain made its presence and did not make a quick exit, I made a decision to take a running break for a week.
You Live you Learn
The disappointment of not being able to run was so grand, I vowed not to ever be in that position again. The red signs had been there all along, and I chose to ignore them. When I look back on my training notes, I wrote numerous side notes of, “discomfort on my left foot” for almost four weeks straight. Then, there was the fact I kept changing running shoes (Hoka, New Balance, Mizuno, Brooks) thinking the problem was due to exterior mechanics. Had I actually listened to my body, and taken the time to give myself a few days of rest, I would have perhaps given my foot an opportunity to heal. Instead of being perseverant, I was being stubborn. Because hindsight is 20/20, I am now making sure to heed the red flags of physical pain.
Tame the Fictitious Thoughts
If it hurts and your life does not depend on it, stop running. Too many times, I try to push myself mentally for fear of being weak should I make the decision to stop. I place myself in these imaginary “life-or-death” scenarios and must emerge as a victorious and courageous heroine who overcomes the odds stacked against her. Silly, I know, but it’s how my mind works sometimes. I’ve come to understand that I don’t need to be a martyr in every single one of my runs. It is completely natural for me to immerse myself in a role in which all of the problems of the world rest upon my shoulders. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed by what is happening around me, that not being able to solve or make a dent in the injustices that occur around the globe take a serious toll.
My runs are not just for the challenge of getting stronger and faster, but to atone for my shortfalls and relieve myself from the amount of pressure I place upon myself. When I refused to pay attention to the red flags of pain last year, I likened the physical pain parallel to others around the globe who struggle with the difficulties of their day-to-day life. While I don’t ever want to take for granted the blessings I have, nor do I want to be insensitive about the plight of others, I need to stop the fictitious thoughts that stopping during a run because I am hurting makes me weak. It makes me a human being, made out of flesh and bones. I need to understand that the measurement of courage and strength is not dependent upon the threshold of pain. Courage is measured by doing what is right regardless of the repercussions of said action. In my scenario, it would have been more courageous to stop training and accept that running a marathon at the time was not the right thing to do. I was being stubborn.
Short-Term Sacrifices for Long-Term Success
Last year, my mantra was, “Stick to the Plan.” Because I had always tackled every race with a care-free attitude (nothing wrong with that approach, I just wanted different results) I felt like I needed to stick to the plan in order to see the results. This year, my mantra is “Short-Term Sacrifice for Long-Term Success.” There have been many a times in races where I have seen senior citizens out on the course enjoying the gift of running. Their presence brings a smile to my face, and it makes me pine for the opportunity to race during the latter stages of my life. In fact, I would love for my final days of my life to be out on a running course, being pushed by my children and grand children should I be unable to use my own body to propel myself across the finish line. Thus, it is my intention to see running pauses as short-term sacrifices as mean for long-term success. While I definitely want to pursue goals to test my strength and endurance, ultimately, running longevity is my desired goal. This is what being perseverant is all about. It is about being able to discern between the voices of rationality and fiction. About recognizing when to push past the pain and when to listen to the pain. It is about winning the war despite losing a battle.
Do you recognize when you are being stubborn or perseverant? What circumstances have made you decide to stop running?