Saturday, January 12, 2013

Running lessons: Pain nearly always goes away - eventually

Peace Park late in the afternoon
Today's run was an 8km "steady" run up the river and back. Just the usual. Nothing special. Except that the day was spectacular - blue sky, bright snow, little wind and relatively balmy temperatures that hovered around 0 degrees C.

It was a pretty good run, all things considered. I've been fighting a bug all week and woke up this morning with a nasty sinus headache that I never quite managed to shake. I'm hoping the run today coupled with a good night's sleep will fix what ails me so I feel well enough to running 17 kms with my buddy David tomorrow morning. It's always fun running with him and the route we plan to take is one of my favourites.

Anyway, back to the lesson from today's run. As I arrived at my turnaround point, a pedestrian bridge that crosses the LaHave River about 4 kms from our home, I was reminded that I had some trouble climbing the metal stairs up to the bridge earlier this fall.  As some of you may recall, I whacked my knee on a rock during a trail run back in June causing a minor sprain that left me in quite a bit of discomfort for awhile. It didn't bother me much when I was running - except when I was climbing stairs or running down steep hills - but it hurt like heck when I rolled over in bed, or stood up too quickly after sitting for awhile.

By November, I was beginning to wonder if it would ever heal. Fortunately, I have an excellent chiropractor who assured me it would - eventually. All I needed, he said, was to be patient, ice it frequently, and avoid re-injuring it. Sure enough, it got better and now gives me no trouble at all. In fact, it's hard believe it ever hurt as much as it did.

When you stop to think about it, it's miraculous that the human body is able to heal itself that way. There are limits, of course, but our bodies are capable of recovering from extraordinary injuries and illnesses and, with enough time, physical pain nearly always goes away.

The same is true of emotional and psychological pain - though that can be hard to remember when things seem darkest. Overwhelmed by sadness, fear, anger, or rejection, it's difficult to believe that, just around the bend, the painful thing that for weeks or months - perhaps even years - kept us from appreciating the good things in our lives, will be little more than an echo of a bad dream and we'll barely recall what it felt like to struggle with it.

The other miraculous thing is how much of the healing happens unnoticed. One day something hurts like hell - to the point we can't breathe or think or imagine feeling whole again - and a few months later it doesn't, though we can't quite recall the moment when the pain went away or what made it go. Somehow, when we weren't paying attention, our body, mind or heart simply sat up, brushed itself off, and got on with it.

Thank goodness for that. And thank goodness for all the people in our lives who love and support us until the healing happens and the pain goes away.

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