august 18/RECOVERY

Recovery mode.

Day Fourteen

Now that I know it’s okay to feel pain, I’m okay pushing myself more. I’m realizing that sometimes I’m too cautious. I was so afraid that I would injure it more that I wasn’t willing to push it at all. Pushing through the fear is such a good thing for me. I don’t mind feeling pain, pain I can handle, as long as I believe that it’s not damaging me and that it will go away. Random: I use the word “that” a lot in my writing. I’m noticing it as I memorize poems by Mary Oliver. She hardly ever uses “that” but I frequently insert it in her lines as I recite them from memory. I want to eliminate unnecessary thats.

Repeat, minus the “thats”

I know it’s okay to feel pain now, so I’m okay pushing myself more. I’m realizing sometimes I’m too cautious. So afraid to injure it more, I was unwilling to push it at all. Pushing through the fear is such a good thing for me. I don’t mind feeling pain, pain I can handle, as long as I believe it’s not damaging me and it will go away.

Repeat, more refinement

It’s okay to feel pain. I know this now. So I’ll push myself more. I’m too cautious, too afraid, too unwilling to push past what’s seems safe. Pushing through fear is good for me. Pain is good for me, as long as I believe it’s not damaging, I believe it won’t stay forever.


Pain is okay, sometimes. Like now. My pain doesn’t signal an injury, but muscles complaining as they wake up again. I won’t be afraid of it or tiptoe around it. I’ll embrace it, work though it, live with it. Pain is a part of living; it will end eventually.

I did the straight leg raise! I did the straight leg raise! Damn, it was hard. Hard to believe, but it took all my effort. And it hurt. A lot. Not a sharp pain, but a steady, uncomfortable one. But I did it!

Did a 2 mile walk with Delia the dog—my new favorite way to write her name. Tried to walk as briskly as I could. The one mile I timed was 20 minutes, although probably slightly faster if you don’t count the stops at corners to cross and the few times I let Delia the dog sniff something. Still slow, but progress.

Did you know that elite race walkers, the women and men, can walk much faster than I can run? My best 5K time is 24:54/8 minute pace. While racing for 20K or 50K, their 5K splits are 19 (men) and 22 (women) minutes. Wow. I had no idea. I know I’m not that fast, but under 25 minutes for a 5K is not slow. Can you imagine running a race while they walked it and having them lap you? What a sight! I almost want to see that.

Pain will you return it
I’ll say it again – pain
Pain will you return it
I won’t say it again (Depeche Mode, Strangelove).

Other words for Pain:

  • ache
  • irritation
  • discomfort
  • soreness
  • strain
  • burn
  • tenderness
  • twinge
  • crick
  • distress
  • pang
  • annoyance

I like pain when it gives off a slight warmth, when your muscles ache from use. This type of pain is not irritating or unwelcome. I like it and long for it, when it’s missing. Swimming is the best way I’ve found, to achieve this sort of tender, gentle burn.

Thinking about pain and reading Eula Biss’s essay “The Pain Scale.” When I first started teaching, I’d ask my students at the beginning of class, “How are you feeling, on a scale from 1 to 10?” I stopped, after one student said, “Can we not do the 1 to 10 thing? It reminds me of when I was in the hospital and the nurse would ask me that every morning.” I can’t remember what, if anything, I did after that to gauge people’s moods. Maybe nothing. Maybe I shouldn’t have stopped.

When the doctor told me that fear of pain was preventing my brain from sending the proper signals to my quads to activate, my first reaction was “wow.” Mind blown. I never would have expected my brain, and not my knee, to be the real problem here. So much to think about in terms of the relationship between the mind, the brain and other parts of the body. At the outset of my Run! writing project, I wanted to experiment with how I imagine and experience the relationship between mind and body. I wonder where, if at all, the mind fits into my current quad problem? Is there a conscious element to the fear of pain and the brain? Or, is it unconscious? Is a lack of will the problem, at all?

“During your recovery period your brain has mapped out a new neural network for pain-free walking, which has become a habit.” Uh oh. Is that why my brain has done? Is that why I can’t lift my leg? I don’t want a new neural network, I want the old one!

“When you run your brain creates a ‘neural map’ that, through repetition, will dictate your ‘natural gait’.” There is nothing natural about my current gait, with my right leg that won’t quite bend (source).

Search words to use: “neural map running injury” “running injury body maps”
another source.

Neural map
/Body Maps (the virtual body): “When you practice a movement, the body map representing the physical body part involved grows in size. However, if you stop using a particular body part, e.g. when you are injured and/or in pain, the body map for that particular body part becomes ‘blurred’ (also referred to as ‘smudged’).”

Biked for 30 minutes in the front room then tried to lift my straight leg again. Did it, but just barely. So difficult! Not just pain, but something more. A strongly resistant body. I’m sweaty and out of breath from effort.

A few hours ago, I figured out when I swing my right leg forward, it’s not straight and the knees not locked, which is what it’s supposed to do when you walk. When you run, your knees are bent, but when you walk, they should be straight. I do not know this because I’ve noticed it when I walk. I know this because I researched the biomechanics of walking a few months ago. And because I watched a replay of the 2016 Olympics 20K race walk a few days ago and the announcers kept talking about how the swinging straight leg was critical for a legal gait. No straight leg earns you a penalty and, eventually, disqualification.

Took another walk with Delia the dog. Rosie joined us this time. Then drove over to the lake and swam half a mile. Then went shopping with Scott and Rosie and walked a lot. I’m tired and sore.

Before going to bed, tried to do raise my straight right leg off of the ground again. Almost did it once.