Appreciating your Limits

It’s a stunning afternoon here in Ireland. The sun is out, the wild winds of the last few days have calmed and the temperature is hovering around the 17*c mark.  Just beautiful, and a perfect afternoon for a run!

Alas, I’m stretched out on the couch, knee raised up on three stacked pillows and wrapped in an ice pack.

It’s frustrating and I’m really angry about it, but I have no one to blame but myself.  We’ve been running for a couple of weeks, but for most of those two weeks I’ve been running in cross-trainers, which when you pronate like I do, are not at all ideal.  I did finally get myself a payday treat of proper running shoes, but the damage was already done.

For the last couple of days before getting the running shoes, I’d been getting twinges of pain and odd sensations in my left knee, as if the bones had been off-set.  After I got the new running shoes, the pain and odd sensations were still there, but I ran anyway.  Sure enough, a couple of days later, I felt like my knee had been badly bruised from the inside and sitting still for more than a few minutes was agony.  Ironically, the only relief is to get up and walk around.  I have “runner’s knee”.

From what I understand, it’s painful and a bother, but also temporary.  Lots of rest, anti-inflammatories and the good old fashioned R.I.C.E. treatment seems to be the only cure, so instead of running this week, I’m going home every day and icing my knee after work.  Some of the best running days of the year are being wasted, all because I didn’t listen when my body said stop.

From talking to friends though, this isn’t a new phenomenon.  Whether it be work, play, hobbies, school, whatever, there is this drive to keep pushing, keep going until it hurts, sometimes literally.

Why are we so bad at listening when our bodies say “enough”?  What it is that makes us feel that we need to keep up, keep going, push past the point we should quit?  And is this a new phenomenon?

I come from a long line of very stubborn women.  “Stop” isn’t in our vocabulary, so perhaps in part genetics is to blame, but again, what is the reason for that?   Or is it an evolutionary hang-over, the desire to be the strongest in the herd so the predators don’t pick us off?  Is it some sort of socially ingrained thinking, a “we have to try harder because we are women in a man’s world, and if we don’t work harder for it we won’t achieve it?”  Could it be all of these things and more?

Or is it something more intrinsic, something we have learned without even realising that we have learned it?  In a 24/7 world, have we lost the ability to stop?  Have we become deafened to when our bodies scream at us to slow down, pause for a moment?  Are we unconsciously afraid that if we stop, we’ll get passed by?

I don’t have answers, but I have some theories.  Maybe it’s time to slow down, even for a few minutes a day and just listen.  Maybe it’s time to really connect with our bodies and hear what they’re telling us.  Maybe it’s past time that we learned to listen to how far we can go so that we can push that boundary without going past it and winding up losing time or worse through injury to body and spirit?

Maybe it’s past time to learn our limits?

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