Sunday, August 4, 2013


I took this picture while hiking around Multnomah Falls when we were in OR for the RNR half.

This post has nothing to do with running and everything to do with running. 

Stick with me. 

Pain is no stranger to those of us who run up and down hills, on concrete, rocky trails, in the sticky heat and in the freezing cold.  I'm pretty sure that if you finish a hard run and nothing hurts then you're doing it wrong.

But what happens when you avoid pain?  Not a lot.  You aren't pushing yourself.  You're not growing.  You're not getting stronger for sure.  But it is demanding and it won't go away no matter how deep you bury it; it just doesn't work that way.  This applies in life just as well as it applies to running.

I think I'm pretty safe in saying that for the last 10 years I've avoided as much pain as possible.  Sure, it's bubbled up to the surface here and there but I've buried it more than I've embraced it or even slowed down or stopped to feel it.  What happens when I do this?  Scar tissue piles on top of scars that lay on top of pain. 

When I tore my shoulder up and had to have surgery I spent 3 months with my shoulder immobilized to let the extensive repairs heal.  When I came out of the sling I had zero range of motion.  My physical therapists and orthopedic surgeon had never seen so much scar tissue develop so fast.  I had a scar tissue problem that eventually required a second surgery to manipulate my shoulder to break up the scar tissue and then clean it all out.  Very aggressive physical therapy followed to keep scar tissue from developing again and it was extremely painful.  It was miserable but I pushed through it and found a new normal for my shoulder.  Not perfect, not painless but still in a good and functional place.

I'm not going to say that I haven't grown at all as a person over the past 10 years because I have but I've danced around the pain part as much as possible.  I had been hurt over and over and I was tired of the pain.  I found a respite in the joy of having my daughter that was followed by meeting my now husband which has been a wonderful 7 years and counting.  But despite my happiness I still had areas in my life full of scar tissue on top of buried pain where I remained stuck.

And then I started running again.  Running sucks sometimes; especially when you are starting all over.  It's painful.  Your toenails turn colors and sometimes fall off.  There are blisters, sore muscles, and of course chafing. 

But I still put on my shoes time after time and here's where life and running intersect; old hurts have begun to emerge and for the first time I'm feeling the pain.  I'm not burying it, I'm not ignoring it; rather I'm feeling it, learning from it and pushing through it.  I learned how to do this by running.  Running woke me up to my old friend pain and the fact that pain can be a good and even powerful catalyst for change.

It's true, running changes a person.


  1. You put into words what I have felt for a long time - running changed my life. It has taught me how strong I truly am. No matter what I face, whether running or in life, I push through it. Pain is there, but I am stronger than it. It's usually not easy, very often it just sucks, but in the end I can conquer, and I will grow and learn. Thanks for sharing, I love knowing others have felt that same 'feeling'!! Happy trails :)

    1. Audrey, good for you! I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels the same about running. It's so much more than just a sport or a hobby and for that I'm thankful.

      Jennifer :)

  2. You're so right! Pain is not something to be feared, although there is of course that line where it becomes an injury. But good for you for embracing some pain. :)

    1. Oh yeah, injury pain is not good to push through! I've learned that one the hard way...

      Jennifer :)