Have you ever heard the analogy of the pendulum? The idea is that things tend to go from one extreme to another before finding a balance. I first heard it in a Jewish history class when we were talking about the move from ultra-orthodox to ultra-reform, before Orthodoxy and Reform Judaism became less extreme and Conservative Judaism developed.
That’s how I feel about my perception of my body’s aches and pains right now. When I first started running “seriously” and up until quite recently, I thought of every pain as something to run through. I only stopped if I couldn’t walk. While I knew sore muscles, painful tendons, etc. were different, I treated them the same.
Recovery was something I didn’t really understand, having grown up figure skating six days a week, during which time I trained 2-4 hours a day. I was taught how to work out, how to push myself, how to improve, but not the science of any of it. I knew I had to take Sundays off from everything, but I didn’t know why. I knew I needed to do strength training, but no one told me why I needed to train my arms for what I saw as a lower-body sport. To be fair, I never asked “why” about any of these things.
I applied some of the same concepts when I started running, namely that I will get better with time and consistency (good thing), and that pain is something to work through and overcome (possibly less of a good thing). Except for some hip flexor issues in middle school that I treated with stretching and massages while continuing to train, I never had to take time off from skating for overuse injuries. Acute injuries, yes. I took a few days off for my several concussions and when I sprained my ankle. (I sprained it warming up for a competition! My coach was pissed and made me compete anyway. I think I placed 10th out of 12 in my flight, which is like a heat. Then I cried and got a lesson about good sportsmanship and not crying in front of others about my performance.) However, I never got tendinitis like some of my friends did. I never pulled my groin, which was a common skating injury. So, I rarely had to take time off and didn’t really comprehend the concept. Enter running.
The tagline on my out-of-use Tumblr blog is, “Run till you can’t run no more.” I think that embodies my outlook at the time. Keep on running until you literally can’t, then take as little time off as possible and run yourself into the ground again. Count up all the damn injuries.
Now, my pendulum has swung to the opposite extreme. Every little thing worries me. Most of the time, I can tell when something is a sore muscle versus a strained or injured muscle, but other things elude me. I’m in this super-cautious phase, which I guess is definitely better than how I was looking at things before. Every little ache or pain worries me, but “better safe than sorry” as the adage goes.
This morning, my arches are sore. Instead of noticing it and wearing the squishy, flat flip flops I have been wearing the last few days anyway, as I probably would have in the past, I put on my supportive Ravennas. I think that was a good move and not “extreme” by any means. What got me thinking about extremity is that my thoughts automatically go to freaking out about whether this is going to be an injury. Is it something to watch and take care of? Definitely. Is it something to get stressed and worry about? Probably not. Stress does not help anything.
So, my arches are sore this morning. That’s it. Statement of fact. Step one in finding my pendulum’s resting point.