In January, I was entering the heavier end of the marathon training schedule. Longer, more frequent runs. Very long runs every other Saturday. I grew increasingly less confident, and increasingly scared.
Then, I got injured.
I sprained my calf during a 12 mile run. Not just sore, but really hurt. I looked it up online, and submitted to the recovery regiments that were prescribed. But the pain did not go away. And when I would try to run on it, it would only make things worse.
So I went to see an orthopedic MD specializing in sports medicine. I told him about my training. I told him about the pain. I told him that I had read that I needed a prolonged rest to fully recover. He was not impressed.
“Rick, you’re just going to have to suck it up.”
“Huh? But I have a big run this weekend. I am hurting here, doc! You are saying I should go??”
“But what if I am running and it hurts?”
“Then you walk. You walk until you can run again. You see, your brain is giving you an ‘out’ with this pain. You need to tell your brain that you don’t need an excuse to quit, that you are going to keep going.”
I ran 14 miles the next weekend. With no pain. In fact, I have not felt pain in my calf since I left the doctors office. I told my brain that I was fine, and didn’t need the excuse anymore.
Your brain is hard-wired with thousands of years of built-in defense mechanisms. When you are pushing your limits in work, family, exercise – anything where things can get really tough – watch for your brain to present you with a great excuse to simply quit. Everyone will understand. It was just too much. It was really out of your control.
Or, you can choose to keep running.