I have come to the sound conclusion that athletes have an incredible ability to tolerate pain. Yes, most of us already know that athletes have to deal with a little more pain than your average person, but they really do deal with some intense pain. I couldn’t even begin to list all of the accidents Chrissie Wellington had during her Ironman training (according to her book). Broken bones, severe road rash, hamstring injuries, etc. And yesterday I read an article about how Paula Radcliffe suffered a dislocated jaw, a jammed hip, and whiplash one week before her world record performance. Um, ouch?
There are many studies out there detailing how athletes handle pain. According to this study, endurance athletes can handle a moderate amount of pain, while other game sport athletes can handle more intense pain. Perhaps because endurance athletes deal with it for longer periods of time versus short bouts of pain? Two of the common coping mechanisms are association (thinking about the pain) and dissociation (thinking about something else). For me personally, I prefer association, especially if I’m doing an intense effort.
Although I do not have the stories of Wellington or Radcliffe, I do have my own broken bone story. On my wedding night, I broke my collar bone. (Apparently having a bunch of people of varying heights lift you in a chair is a bad idea. Gravity will win.) Anyway, three days later I was biking again and one week later I was running. The key to running with a broken collar bone…. do NOT swing that arm, Sure, it hurt a bit but I’m an athlete. I deal with pain. Most people said I was crazy. For me personally, I never understood how a broken collar bone affected my legs anyway. I also went hang gliding over the Swiss Alps but that’s another story.
Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Running/Recovery Update: Perhaps I shouldn’t have run two days in a row but I couldn’t stand the thought of working out on the elliptical in that stuffy gym. I ran 4 miles through Microsoft’s campus, followed by strength training and stretching. I’m continuing to run in my Minimus shoes and my calves can tell. On another note, I had a crazy idea this morning. On May 2nd, I am turning 30 years old. Wouldn’t it be cool to run 30 miles? Maybe not the best idea for a recovering runner but I think this would be amazing!