Friday, January 27, 2012

The Pain Perception

I don't think it's a prerequisite that athletes have the ability to handle pain...but it sure does help.

If nothing else, they had better get used to some pretty major discomfort.  Particularly if they're going to take up a sport like running.  Running hurts.  So do the massages and chiropractic appointments that keep runners upright and moving forward.

When I was running full speed ahead last year - training for Around the Bay and then the marathon - I got pretty used to pain.  I was seeing either Janice and Geoff every second week and trust me when I tell you that there was a lot of tears and nausea as I clung to the bed in agony.  In fact, I once suggested to Janice that she put a little barf bucket under the hole in the headrest of her massage table...just in case.  She never did and, so far, I've never needed one.  But it's come close a few times.

During last year's running madness I also got used to shin pain.  I learned to recognize when things were tight but ok.  I learned the pain that told me to ease off because I was on the edge of shin splints and, most importantly, I learned the pain of shin splints telling me to take time off and call Geoff - again.

I was also pretty shocked when I was introduced to the unforgettable pain of a stress fracture.

So yep, I know pain.

On top of that, having Type 1 diabetes means that I am keenly aware of how I'm feeling pretty much all the time.  As I sit on the couch typing this blog, I have ice packs on my calves, I am listening for the laundry to know when it's done, I am sipping my red wine and composing my story of the day.  Despite all of these distractions, there is always (and I mean always) a part of me that is checking in to see how I'm feeling.  How's my sugar? Am I climbing after dinner?  Crashing after my run? Am I yawning because I'm tired?  Because I'm low?  High?

So to recap, I am usually very aware of how my body is feeling at any given moment and I've learned to identify and put up with a whole variety of pain options.

Now on the to the point of my story.

Last week I went to see Janice.  I've been going to her every four to five weeks rather than every two since I wasn't running and my legs really needed some down time to heal.  She started working on my calves and I was shocked at how much they hurt.  I mean really hurt.

To be honest, I was pretty disappointed.  I had worked so hard to keep my calves loose and limber and there they were feeling like rocks.  I said as much to Janice and she said that they were actually surprisingly loose.  Better than she had felt in a long long time.

Well, that's good - so why the pain?!?

Well, she said, probably because it's been so long since you've had a massage or pushed those muscles that that they are no longer used to hurting.

Bloody hell!

I knew I had to rebuild my leg strength and my running endurance after ten weeks off.  No one told me I'd have to rebuild my pain tolerance too.

1 comment:

  1. That's curious and not at all surprising to me. As runners we get so used to feeling pain that eventually it just feels normal.
    You'll be back soon enough.. think of that pain and discomfort as your "normal". :)
    we need to run again together! Although I'm not sure I can keep up with you anymore.