CHRONIC PAIN – To run or not to run?

chronic pain, fibromyalgia, staying active, running, challenges, to run or not to run

Recently, I was faced with a decision: To participate in a trail running race or not.  Basically, to run or not to run!

The race was the third race in a series of trail races.  It was 7 km long with unknown elevation gain.  I completed the first two races in the series without any real problems.

Although, my legs were so SORE after the first one that I could barely walk for a week.

The race was doable.

At least it normally would’ve been.

How did I get here?

About five months ago, a friend asked me if I was interested in signing up for the Vancouver Island Trail Running Series.  I was EXCITED.  I’d wanted to complete this challenge for several years.  It was on my bucket list, so to speak.

My first instinct was to say: “YES!”

My second thought was: “Is this something I should take on this year?”

Let me give you some context.

WHAT IS THE VANCOUVER ISLAND TRAIL RUNNING SERIES?

The Vancouver Island Trail Running Series is a series of six off-road races that take place on the trails of Vancouver Island (and one on Salt Spring Island).  There are two distance categories: the Short Course with distances ranging from 7-12 km (4.3 – 7.5 miles) and the Long Course with distances ranging from 12-20 km (7.5 – 12.4 miles).

My friend had suggested the Short Course.

The courses wind UP through lush rain forests and along the edge of stunning view points.  And when I say UP, I’m talking about some significant elevation gains: 155-640 meters (508-2100 feet) for the short course.  I won’t even go into the elevation gains for the Long Course.

There is a reason that this series used to be called “Gutbusters.”

HESITATION?

So why was I hesitating?  I had been thinking about signing up for this series for a few years, and now I had a friend who was interested too.

Seemed like a WIN-WIN situation.

The long answer would take more time than I’m sure anyone has to listen.  It would involve complicated analysis of the dynamics of my relationship with my friend and in depth detail about my health and general stress level of my life.

Kind of boring and not the focus of this post.

The short answer is, after struggling with chronic pain and debilitating exhaustion for over a year, I was out of shape.

After anguishing over the decision for days and forcing my husband to endure endless conversations regarding the pros and cons of both signing up and not signing up, I made a decision (mostly fueled by my fear that the series would sell out if I didn’t act quick enough.)

I SIGNED UP FOR THE SERIES

After all, I had a few months to prepare and get myself back into shape.

Did I mention anywhere that I don’t like running hills?  I pretty much avoid them whenever possible?  Did I also mention that every single one of the races in this series involve significant hills – most with ‘Mount’ in their name?

I, of course with my fresh enthusiasm, created a comprehensive training program that would not only whip me into shape and prepare me to tackle all the elevation gain but might even set me up for a win in my age-group.

Okay, maybe put me at the front of the middle of the pack.

I think I managed the first few weeks of my program…

Despite the lack of dedication to training (which is actually very unlike me), my friend and I ran the first two races without a hitch.  We had an AMAZING time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Mārtiņš Zemlickis on Unsplash

SO, WHY THE DILEMMA FOR THIS RACE?

Life, especially when you live with chronic pain, has a way of not going according to plan.  Since the last race, I’d been struggling to complete any exercise.  I usually bike to work every day, but I’d been so fatigued I hadn’t even managed to bike to work every day never mind going for hilly runs.

Life with chronic illness has a way of not going according to plan. Click To Tweet

PLUS, I was having a PAIN FLARE.  A pain flare is what I call it when the pain that is usually just a constant background to my life becomes so INTENSE that it becomes the main focus of my life.

When I’m experiencing this kind of pain, whether to exercise or rest becomes very tricky.

When I’m experiencing this kind of pain, whether to exercise or rest becomes very tricky. Click To Tweet

Sometimes, exercise makes the pain recede.

Sometimes, exercise makes it blaze even hotter.

I can’t help but to notice that this kind of decision is coming up more and more in my life.  And it’s extremely FRUSTRATING.

I don’t want to be defined by my condition.

I want to be defined by me.

It took me until the last moment to make the decision.  I have a competitive personality that is completely at odds with my philosophy of living a nurturing life.  This contradiction makes a decision like this even more difficult.

TO RUN OR NOT TO RUN

If I compete, am I hurting my body?

If I don’t, am I giving up?

If I compete, am I overcoming adversity?

If I don’t, am I letting the pain defeat me?

To run or not to run…?

UPDATE: Learn what my decision was: CHRONIC PAIN – So, I chose not to run.

 

 

 

 

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chronic pain, fibromyalgia, staying active, running, challenges, to run or not to run

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