After hurting my neck in last week's 5K, and then overdoing it by running again the following day, and pulling a muscle while weeding the garden the day after that, I took six day off from running. I went to the chiropractor, iced my injuries, did gentle stretches.
I was feeling better, so I went for a run on Saturday. I was going to do about two miles, and walk about half a mile. It was an easy run, and I intentionally ran at a slow pace and made no effort to push myself. I promised myself if my neck or back hurt, I'd just stop. About a mile in, I felt a twinge in my neck, but it passed so quickly I thought I imagined it. I felt it again a few moments later and slowed my pace, but kept running.
I finished my run, and felt good, but that evening my neck and shoulder were very sore. I did not run on Sunday, but I had a chiropractor appointment yesterday that felt good, so I decided to run again last night.
By the evening, my neck and shoulder were sore. Nelson came home and suggested that maybe I just walk. I decided to run, and about a mile in, I felt a twinge. And a quarter of a mile later, I felt significantly more than a twinge, and walked the remaining half mile. I did about two miles, walking about 3/4 of a mile at the end.
This is stupid. Really, really stupid. I have an injury and I should lay off for a while. A week, even two, until my neck is healed. But this is hard for me for a few reasons. Here are those reasons, in list form.
1) I don't want to lose momentum. My training has been going really well. I've been getting faster, running for longer, enjoying it more. I don't want to go backwards. Already my last two runs have been much slower and not as far as I had been running before my injury. And even though I know that this decrease is BECAUSE of my injury, it still grates on me. My own competitiveness with myself is harassing me to KEEP GOING, PUSH THROUGH THE PAIN even though my rational self knows this is wrong.
2) I'm going to fall behind in my training. I have been training to run a full 5K at the end of this month. I'm not going to be able to do that now. There's no way I can make up the training. I'm already slow and I already needed a few extra weeks to build up my speed. Now, I'm spending those weeks healing (or re-injuring myself.) I'm disappointed. I don't like how that feels.
3) I'm afraid if I take a break for a few weeks, I'll never run again. Really. I'm not any kind of fitness guru or athlete or even remotely athletic. I could easily give up on this, I know I could. Running is hard work and now that it is getting warm it's even harder. And I'm reaching a point where just running is not going to cut it - I'm going to have to take it to the next level and move on from endurance try to get faster, so it is only going to get harder. Quitting is easy. Excuses are easy. I can see myself going this route, even though I don't want to go this route.
4) I'm afraid my chronic pain will return. I don't know how much I've mentioned it here, but I have for many years been dealing with some serious neck pain as a result of a bulging disc where my neck and spine meet (C6, C7, for those of you who also suffer neck pain.) It causes shoulder stiffness and sharp nerve pain that radiates down my left arm and causes numbness and tingling in my last two left fingers. It had gotten so bad I was having trouble lifting the kids, bags of groceries, even closing the back of our van. My whole arm, shoulder to the palm of my hand, would ache like the nerves and tendons had been slammed in a concrete door. Since I've been running, the pain is gone. As in no more pain. After years and years of pain. Not running for six days and the pain started creeping back. My injury is nothing compared to what I have been dealing with for the past four years. I can't go back to that pain.
So, for all of these reasons, I continue to push myself even when rationally I know pushing myself while injured is the wrong thing to do. Even now, last night I told Nelson I would not run for the rest of the week, but this morning I'm already thinking, "My neck feels better today. I bet I can go for a run tomorrow night." I should not do that, I should not run tomorrow night. I will almost certainly hurt my neck and not be able to finish my run. I will set myself backwards yet again.
I am working against myself here, and I know it. I just don't know how to stop it.