BEating Pain

May 21, 2016

Can you remember a time you avoided something painful?  Did avoiding it serve you?  Why/How?

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Something tells me almost one hundred percent of folks reading this post have. I know I have. I’ve side-stepped many challenging scenarios in my life.  Avoidance shows up in physical form during my trail-running hobby all the time.  In fact, it happened today. The way I handled it served me well.

I’ve prioritized home and work priorities and battled congestion this spring so my runs have been shorter than usual. This morning, on the other hand, I lingered on the mountain for hours traveling from sea level to the summit at 2500 feet and back down.  I faced pain and small-lung-itis on all the steep sections of the first half ascent.  Over and over again, negative thought storms and stopping to walk was my reaction.

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Almost an hour in, during one of the most painful trail sections, I decided to turn into the pain and meet it head on.  My knee was pinging, my lungs were burning, my negative self talk was getting boisterous yet I stayed in it.  Instead stopping to walk I dug deep.  I refocused on my breath.  I let myself feel the pain… Metabolized it and kept moving.  I found a landmark up ahead and didn’t walk until I reached it.  I savored the small victory and associated bliss surge.

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An hour or so later I reflected on the victory.  I realized that I hadn’t ignored the pain, I’d met it.  Instead of being too hard on myself for being a little out of hill running shape or too easy on myself and walking or stopping, I greeted the pain and transitioned it into fuel.  It’s amazing how profound even the small victories during a morning run in the trees can be.

I don’t have any races to win anytime soon.  I work hard to keep my ego out of my trail hobbies.  I couldn’t care less how fast “the Jones” are this year.  I don’t even wear a watch (or other IOT robot device) out there, but I also know that anything that maintains or improves my health contributes positively to all of my Core4 life aspects:  Soul, Tribe, Health, Action.

Greeting and transforming vs. avoiding pain served me well today.  I know I’ll hurt even less on my next run because I greeted the pain and kept moving.  My lungs will feel larger.  My resiliency will be heightened.

The metaphorical life lessons I experience trail-running are some of my favorite life’s gifts.  Now if I can just continue to greet emotional, spiritual and intellectual pain in a similarly brave, graceful and beneficial way. :)

Exercise:  Turn in to the next pain storm you encounter.  Journal about it lots after the situation plays out.  Did you avoid or greet or both?



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