Pain for Gain?

Running does a lot for me.  It's a true stress releaser.  Sometimes I run with music, sometimes in silence, and sometimes while listening to NPR podcasts (don't judge).  I love to run outside, alone, year round, in all weather (no lightning and temps between 0-80 degrees F preferred).  There have been times when my daughter or son has suggested to me that I go for a run.  This is code for, "You are crazy.  Get that out of your system and return to us in a more normal state."  (I have not figured out code to suggest the non runners in my family transform out of their own crazy, but running helps me to ignore, win/win.)

I've been running consistently again for a few months.  And by "again", I mean since my latest bout of knee business.  The pattern is that I run and increase my miles and get to a certain point, and then my knee decides that's enough.  Each knee has had its say in my running aspirations more than once.  My saddest break in running was 2 weeks before my second marathon a few years ago.  On mile 12 of my 16 mile training run, I had to admit to myself that I couldn't continue because of the consistent ripping feeling, so I limped back to my car feeling defeated.   Less dramatically, I've had knee pain interrupt my running about twice a year for a couple of months at a time.  

But that was before a consistent yoga practice and greater knowledge about what poses nurture what parts of my body.  It was also before my gel shot in my left knee last winter.  It was also before making the acquaintance of Samantha from Turning Leaf Acupuncture.  The gel shot has worn off, and I'm hoping to sustain a healthy knee through yoga and acupuncture. (Knock wood).

So, what's my point?  There was a point here that turns to yoga.  

Here we go.  That whole, "No Pain, No Gain" business is C. R. A. P.  For years though, I bought into it.  The pain was reassurance that I was pushing my body further.  Yes to feeling the burn.  Yes to that satisfactory soreness the day after a long run or a vigorous work out.  But injury and sharp pains?  And bleeding through my socks to my shoes?  No.  That just cannot be good. 

Here's why I think "No Pain, No Gain" became a thing, though.  The pain is proof that we are digging in and not giving in.  I like that part.  Here's a yoga example:  How about the plank pose that you are holding or rolling over for the last side plank on each side?  Do you feel better if you drop your hips to make it easier or if you dig in and create the best side planks that you honestly can?  I vote for the latter, because isn't yoga about making us feel better about our selves, our power, our inner strength?  I vote for digging in every time that my physical and mental strength allows.  And being honest with myself about whether or not I can keep digging in..... that is the key.  

I was afraid that backing off on how far I pushed myself would mean that I would no longer feel that release of stress.  Happily, I have found that a moderate yoga practice or a non-punishing run still cleanses me of stress.  The key is my mindset and expectation of letting go of the stress and tension before my work out and during.  

So, my challenge to you this week is this:  Figure out where you can benefit by pushing yourself and how deep to dig in with it.  Feeling sedentary?  Plan and follow through with an easy to attain walking schedule.  Mad at yourself for giving up on the gym?  Put your workout stuff in your car today so that you are ready to stop and work out sometime this week, even it it's just for a half hour.  Have you lapsed in your yoga practice or your running?  Set the alarm clock for an hour earlier and get to it before you start your day.  That way, even if the rest of the day goes to         C. R. A. P, you will have that feel-good shining space that comes from a physical work out with the calmer mind that goes with it.  Or do your own thing.  Don't take one of my suggestions, but find your own if you'd rather.  

Just try it.  Put yourself first for this.  Yep, you are busy.  People need you.  You know who else needs you?  YOU do.  There's never a convenient time to make a change, so it might as well be during the chaos of the beginning of the school year or the hottest part of the summer.  Do you know why?  Because committing to it during the crazy season will only make your commitment to yourself seem easier once the world and the weather settles down.  Me?  I'm increasing my miles this week to see where it takes me.  No pressure or worry, but exploring the possibilities.  If you need support, I'm here to encourage you.  Just reach out.  

Have a wonderful week, and enjoy the summer weather while it lasts!