Pro runners always talk about tuning into their pain when they race–that winning requires a certain awareness of just how awful it feels to push your body to its absolute limits. Sports psychologists say even amateur athletes can benefit from staying in the present rather than distracting themselves to disassociate themselves from pain.
I’m more of a “crank the iPod until it’s over” kind of girl myself, and I’m using similar distraction tactics to avoid going nuts before my next doctor appointment March 23, a week from tomorrow. I should get to trade my purple cast for a splint, which means I should get to start resuming my regular activity for the first time since surgery on Feb. 24 to fix the wrist I broke snowboarding.
Here are a few of the happy distractions keeping me sane, which are motivating me to get to next week:
Remember my quest to find stomach-friendly running fuel? I may not be running right now, but I’m still experimenting with fun and interesting runner-friendly recipes. I’m still totally jazzed about adding pumpkin to a wide variety of foods, with soups serving as my latest experiments. This week, my minor pumpkin obsession and an apparent canned-pumpkin shortage in local grocery stores led me to do something a little bit crazy: I actually ordered a dozen cans of pumpkin from Amazon.com to make sure I always have some. Somehow, knowing I didn’t have to wait to buy a favorite food made me feel more able to be patient until my next doctor appointment March 23.
I’m reading the books I didn’t have time to while I was training for a marathon. Among them: Running With the Buffaloes by Chris Lear, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (not a running book, but if I can get through that monster, I can get through recovery, too). Stay tuned for reviews.
I’m planning a trip! We were supposed to go to Stowe this week, but I deemed spending several days in a ski town without any skiing to be the most depressing thing I could think of. Instead, we’re going to New York to see a play and have a fabulous dinner in Little Italy! Details to follow.
Finally, like a runner focusing on crowds of cheering spectators to take his or her mind off the pain of a race, I am distracting myself by focusing on your helpful and inspirational comments, including those from Gary, a marathoner and race director who’s recovering from an injury that’s practically identical to mine, and my friend Tiffany, who has a great approach to her recovery from ankle surgery. She responded to my post about the truce I’m calling with my body by sharing her own recovery goal, saying she’s “going to spend the rest of 29 healing, so that when I turn 30 in June, I can hopefully be healthy enough to live the life I want to live.” I love this. If I can just maintain the truce until May 20, my own 30th birthday, I feel like I’ll be happier and healthier for it.
Lara at Saturday Morning Zen says after getting through the “anger stage of not being able to run,” she actually enjoys the stillness. It’s the idea of “sitting with injury” that they talk about in yoga classes, and she says when she’s able to “sit” with whatever feels uncomfortable, she’s stronger for it when she gets back to running. This is a little bit revolutionary to me. This strategy seems to be half distraction and dissociation, half tuning in to the pain. It’s how I survived the two-hour drive from Whitetail to the emergency room at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda with a badly broken wrist. It involves accepting the pain (or discomfort, or annoyance), then moving on, and I could stand to improve the “moving on” part. Wish me luck with that this week…