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Life as an accomplished marathon runner. Thursday May 30, 2013

Our first posting from Dan, another Moodscope user. I hope you enjoy it. Best wishes. Caroline.

If you think of yourself as a marathon runner, you think of pushing through, of putting one foot in front of another, again and again, despite any pain you may be in.

That is not how the elite runners and their coaches approach things. According to many running authorities including running and triathlete author Matt FitzGerald: 'You must never ignore pain.'

When your pain is sharp, or stabbing or changes your gait, the best thing to do is to stop.

When you are in pain, it is because you are injured, not weak. If you keep on running you will injure yourself more, perhaps permanently. If you stop, rest, strengthen and stretch the injured parts over days or sometimes weeks, you will heal to run again. You will be frustrated but you will not be re-injured.

For a serious, dedicated runner, it is sometimes necessary to push through discomfort, but unless you are leaving a burning building, pain is never something to ignore.

Perhaps your life is a bit like training for a marathon and when you are in pain you should stop, rest, strengthen and stretch.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Robert Morgan Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 8:18am

I am a marathon runner (and a moodscoper)
Dan speaks the truth!
Well done Dan

Anonymous Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 8:26am

I so agree, Dan. Excellent post. I will remember the advice. Thanks for writing for Moodscope.

Anonymous Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 8:58am

Such a good analogy. And so right that we should treat pain and discomfort differently in order to get the best outcome. I know I often stubbornly try to push myself through mental/emotional pain, thinking "I'm not going to give into this", "I'm not going to let it beat me", only to make myself exhausted and weakened, and not able to cope. Why is it so hard to listen to our minds and bodies sometimes and do the right thing?
A great reminder.

Julia Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 9:09am

I think if one wants to try to live a normal life as possible, one cannot give in on a daily basis, with the result that so much of our lives are indeed an attempt to fight our low moods and ignore the "pain". I suppose if it gets really really bad, we shouldn't ignore it and probably couldn't ignore it even if we tried. I think even a marathon runner could not possibly run a mile in extreme agony.

Anonymous Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 9:49am

Great analogy!

Anonymous Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 10:20am

Not being an elite athlete, whose livelihood depends on avoiding the slightest injury, last weekend I was determined to complete my first marathon at any cost. I had trained hard to increase my physical strength over several months and had pledged to raise a significant amount for charity. I had also rehearsed in my mind’s eye how I might deal with the emotional and psychological stress on the day. I experienced physical pain during the race and doubted whether I was mentally tough enough to stay the course. But I believe that challenging my physical and mental strength during training runs was key to my success. I had become more resilient than I realised. Is it really an option to give up when physical or mental pain is experienced or is it not better to build up one’s resilience by challenging the physical and mental pain that is part and parcel of daily life?

Julia Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 10:59am

A difficult one this! Well done by the way for completing your first marathon.What an achievement! I tend to agree with you actually. However, I think your mental resolve must have been very strong in the first place.I thought at first Dan's analogy was a good one but the more I think about it,is mental health really the same as marathon endurance? We don't choose to be depressed, bi polar etc and don't train beforehand to cope with our depression. I guess and have decided that the marathon bit admirable though it is running 26 miles for charity, is irrelevant to the good point Dan is making. We should all look after ourselves and pay attention to our "pain"and occasionally stop in our tracks if we really cannot cope. This will make us stronger in the long run. Yay! Thank you Dan. I have worked it out for myself now.

Anonymous Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 11:14am

I found this very thought provoking. I have generally been someone who has pushed through for many years with emotional and mentally difficult and painful situations - probably pushing through the pain for too long before getting help was not good as could have saved me from being in pain for so long. As Dan said that it is not a sign of weakness to stop when in pain, it's wisdom.

Anonymous Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 11:41am

Thanks Dan for sharing.

Anonymous Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 1:56pm

I can see that there is a lot of truth in the article Dan has written but as someone who lives there entire life in chronic pain I have to disagree with the advice to stop.If I decided to stop I literally would get nothing done.Despite my pain I continue to work part time and I have also written my first book which will be published in two months time.It is called 'Footprints in the Sand' and tells my story of dealing with my bipolar and Dystonia (a neurological condition that causes extremely painful muscle spasms).Last year I had brain surgery in an attempt to improve my quality of life but there were complications meaning I awoke from surgery to find my self paralysed down my left side.I now also go to the gym and swim physio twice a week to improve my strength on my left side.If God had not given me the strength to push myself through the pain barrier then I would still be in the brain rehab unit feeling sorry for myself.I know that if you don't listen to what your body is telling you it can be dangerous but in some cases we need to push ourselves as we can't always rely on another miracle to get us to where we want to be!The finishing line won't come to us.

Anonymous Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 2:13pm

Julia.You have hit the nail on the head as we just have to see what each day brings and try to make the most of the days where the pain isn't quite as bad.You sound as if your a bit like me and that the pain never goes away completely but is always there just at different levels.Some days I just want to curl up in my bed,fall asleep for an hour and forget how bad I'm feeling for at least a short time.The thing is on the days that I do manage to fight through the pain and get things done I feel so much better as the sense of achievement is so much greater now than before when I was well and of course took my health for granted!

Dan MacNeil Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 2:43pm

Thanks for all the praise & thanks more for the feedback.

I probably should have distinguished between 'good pain' (discomfort ) and bad pain. Or perhaps the difference between discomfort and pain.

When it feels like somebody is twisting a knife between the fibers of your Achilles tendon, it is time to stop. When your both your quads burn like molten lead, it is fine to keep pushing.

btw, if this writing diverted you, my other (mostly on chickens & Linux) may as well.

Julia Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 3:21pm

Thank you! Yes I was going to say that the "pain" is at different levels and most days or some days it's manageable without too much of a struggle whereas some days..well need I say more?. I wish I could predict what any day will be like but I can't. The other day I desperately wanted to sit on the sofa, read my book and hopefully get some rest/sleep (I physically didn't feel capable of anything else) so I did this but felt no better after an hour. Then I noticed the sun had come out so I reluctantly got up and went outside and pottered about in the garden. I started to do some fairly heavy physical work and was amazed at how I was able to do this for an hour or so.I could have carried on! I felt so much better while I was doing it and afterwards which just goes to show that we are capable of physical stuff (those of us lucky enough to be mobile and relatively free of chronic pain) even though we feel absolutely knackered through mental stress!! I think I've just repeated what you said perfectly well Anonymous. I just wanted you to know I agreed!

Julia Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 3:24pm

You wrote well Dan and gave us food for thought. Thank you.

Mary Blackhurst Hill Hill Thu, May 30th 2013 @ 3:27pm

Thank Dan. Lovely post and I look forward to reading more about chickens and Linux!

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