Mind at the mercy of matter

That is a picture of me…not running. That leg in the foreground looks just fine…but something going on in there is a serious pain in the ass, not literally….it’s a pain in the leg to be precise.

The physical body does not have a mind. It does not have a consciousness or manner of abstract thinking. The physical body is simply that, a complex conglomeration of physical resources that work together to give motion and being. But it does not have a thought process. This is unfortunate. What this means is that no matter how much I WANT to be uninjured, no matter how each little moment without leg pain gives me hope, no matter what goals and daydreams I entertain past this injury that it is all inconsequential as far as my leg is concerned. My leg is a grouping of muscles, tendons, proteins, nutrients, etc. etc. that has its own agenda and its own timeline for recovery. It cares not how hopeful I am to run without restriction. It cares not about the Mini-marathon that is only 5 weeks away. It cares not what progress I had made leading up to this unfortunate circumstance. It cares not because it can’t. It can only go through a process of regeneration, partly aided by me, but mostly on its own time. This sucks.

If I’ve learned anything about my person in the past 33 years that I’ve been on this earth, it’s that I like being in control. I know, a funny thing to say from a dedicated anarchist, but I don’t mean that in an authoritative way. I mean that in the way I can develop my life based on my own terms without restriction. The element of control has pervaded most every aspect of my life. I think it’s a component of being a Type A personality, which I’m told most runners tend to be. We are detailed, focused, and somewhat neurotic. We try to hone these characteristics into something positive and it just so happens that running tends to be one of those outlets. I’ve come to realize that my comfort in control is why I drive 9 hours through the night, not letting Michelle take the wheel until I’m hitting multiple rumble strips. I also think it’s why I’m a pretty good parent, because I take responsibility for my son and engage with him every second I get. I think it’s why I’m a pretty good worker when left to my own devices. I also think it’s fundamentally why I’m a pretty decent runner, because I have that sense of responsibility to myself and the focused drive to do the work necessary to progress.

I also think it’s why I’m going crazy with this leg injury. Because I have no control over what is happening down there.

I’ve got goals, primarily in the distant future, but some that are nearing closer and closer despite my inability to prepare for them. That is out of my control….and I don’t like it. I’ve got the understanding that if I don’t keep my running fitness up that the progress I’ve made leading up to this point will begin to slowly slip away, out of my control…and I don’t like that. Granted, I have a little bit of control when it comes to injury prevention, but it’s a difficult line to walk, knowing when you are pushing the envelope or pushing yourself over the edge. And any control you had leading up that point disappears before you know it. And I don’t like that.

Further, I don’t like having no control over the healing process. Again, I can help facilitate the process to a degree, feeding the body properly yields positive results just as abusing the body will return the favor, but any sense of definitive control is still out of my hands, if primarily because I have NO idea what’s going on down there. So now, I not only have no control over the process of regeneration, but I also have no mental control, no mental understanding of what process of degeneration has taken place (is taking place?) in my leg. I hate that.

I want control back, even if that means relinquishing it to professional help, which I am in the process of working on actually. I’m considering seeing a sports doctor to get a specific diagnosis and I’m also setting up a schedule for massage by a local, reputable chiropractor/massage therapist. You’ll probably hear more about that later. All I know is that sitting around hasn’t given me much control back over my running. My leg seems to be in some sort of fluxuating state of regeneration, stabalization or degeneration. No matter what I do.

Today I had enough and went out for a run. Just over 5 miles to be exact. I actually went out yesterday for about a mile and a half, just to see how my leg would respond, if maybe that would snap it back into recovery. The morning assessment wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be, and I had hope for a good run later in the day. I had some reoccurring shin splint pain during the day, but decided to go out anyways, just to see how far I might get before I had to call it quits if the pain escalated.

I started out around my block and when that was relatively successful headed out towards the Monon for a little jaunt. Surprisingly, I hit my 2 1/2 mile turnaround and made my way back home for a complete run of 5+ miles. That felt good….mentally. Admittedly, my leg was not where I wanted it to be physically. I felt periodic shin splint pain and an overall tightness that limited my stride, but the pain never escalated to a worrisome degree. I could tell my strength was sacrificed in my injured leg due to both favoring it and the seeming nerve pain I felt on push off, but it was good enough to run on. The question again will be  how it feels when I wake up tomorrow morning. How much control will I have gained or lost from that run?

This, for the time being, is relative success though. Last week I wasn’t able to run a full mile on the treadmill the pain was so restrictive and pointed. Today I did 5+. I hate that a 5 mile run is victory for me right now, but I’ll take what I can get. I’m just dying to get back to going all out, long runs, speed, etc. Every part of me wants that right now…every part of me except that leg, which is controlling everything else .

So yeah, I’m still completely 50/50 on whether I’m healing or going nowhere, a big part due to the complete lack of control I have over my injury and complete lack of mental understanding as to what exactly is taking place in my leg. It has no mind to persuade to recovery and no mouth to tell me to shut up and quit whining, that it will be done when it’s good and ready to be done. The lower leg has the upper hand damnit.

Depending on how things go tomorrow, we might go out again for another run to see if we’ve progressed, regressed or something in between. Again, here’s to hopin.

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