Sunday, September 25, 2011

3 Types of pain

As I battle this hamstring issue, the topic of pain is ever present in my mind. No one likes pain and most of us do everything feasible to avoid as much of it as possible. This brings me to the topic of today – types of pain.

Being a runner, I find that there are three common types of pain that I have encountered: race pain, post race pain, and injury pain.

Race pain or rather race discomfort as some people might see it is the hurt that comes with pushing our bodies to the absolute limit of our ability. Going into any race, hard workout, or long workout, we all know that there will be some level of discomfort before we finish. But mentally, we are able to easily deal with it for one particular reason. We know that once our endeavor is over the pain will cease for us. Crossing the finish line will allow us to return our bodies to a homeostasis mode. With the Salem Lake 30k finish just in front of me, I knew finally my suffering was just about over.

Post race pain is the result of a hard race or hard workout. We pushed our bodies to the brink of breaking and the soreness that results lets us know that our bodies are working to repair themselves. Like the pain from racing it is somewhat temporary. The soreness will leave us anywhere from a few hours to a few days. A long run leaves me tired for a few hours and then I start to bounce back. On the other hand, a marathon leaves me sore for 2 to 3 days after the event. Subsequently, life starts to return to normal.

In both situations, our minds deal with the pain appropriately knowing that in short the pain will disappear. Most of us never dwell upon it longer than a few seconds to a few minutes because we know that this type of pain is totally temporary.

Injury pain is something totally different. We know it and we feel it. Unlike the other two types of pain, there is no expectation that the pain will be gone tomorrow. We deny it. We battle it. Finally, we accept it. Only once we accept it do we start down the road to true recovery. The damage has been done and the body needs to repair itself. The mentally challenging part to the pain is the constant reminder that is being sent to the brain with every movement. No matter what we do, the body moves and the brain is told again and again with each muscle flexion that we can no longer do the activity that we love as well as we want. And we wonder, how long will it take.



Thoughts from the Cool Down Runner

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