“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” –
I have been a fan of
When I heard that Murakami wrote a book about running I nearly jumped out of my skin. I found that I could not read the book without nodding along in agreement as I read. Everything he wrote struck a chord with me. I am sure I looked comical to my family sitting in my chair, reading and nodding vigorously.
The quote about pain and suffering is probably the most famous one attributed to Murakami since it is plastered all over runners’ T-shirts, posters and coffee mugs. It’s a good one, representative of his spare but powerful writing.
This is Murakami explaining his own quote: “Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore’. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.”
Or herself. I finally got to the point where I had to say “No mas!”
The good news is that I ran over 40 miles in the past week. 40 miles used to be my benchmark, the target I would shoot for every week of the year.
The bad news is that I ran every step of those 40 miles on the elliptical trainer, not the roads or trails I love.
Please allow me to recap. A year and a half ago, I first noticed a sharp pain in my left hip during a run while visiting my son and his family in Colorado. The pain diminished over time and by last spring, I was back to running races on the roads and trails, having a great time. My stride and speed were not quite normal, but at least I was having fun.
Last summer, on a long training run for a marathon, disaster struck. The sharp pain I felt from the previous year was back, along with a deep ache that began in my gluteus region and traveled down the back of my leg whenever I sat in a car or on a hard surface, or when I ran more than, say, six or seven miles. I finished two marathons in that state.
I rested the hip. Sort of. I did the exercises prescribed by my physical therapist. I searched for yoga stretches for hips. I ran only short runs. The pain persisted. Then, during a run on a recent trip to Florida, I noticed weakness in my left leg.
Hubby and I were running downhill, less than one mile into our planned run when my left knee felt like it was going to buckle. I startled Hubby by yelling “Oh!“, thinking I was going to hit the pavement. After steadying myself I continued running, then it happened again. And again. Over and over while we ran an easy three miles, I felt like my leg was going to give out.
I decided the time had finally come. I had to take another step (medically speaking) toward fixing my hip. My doctor recommended I see an orthopedist. The problem with that is most orthopedists in my area are scheduling appointments for six to eight weeks out. Luckily, I’ve got connections.
A fellow blogger, who, by the way, is extremely talented, (if you have never visited the blog written by Jeff Cann titled The Other Stuff, you must), hooked me up with an orthopedist who also happens to be a kinesiologist and an Ironman. Triple score! My appointment is today. I have high hopes. I am nothing if not an incurable optimist.
Hope is my default response, my Plan A. Even though my hopes have been dashed many, many times and I have had to come up with Plans B, C, D, and even E, I still usually expect the best.
My kids have pretty much the same attitude. Hubby used to tell the story of my youngest son, who learned to golf when he was quite young. He would drive a ball out of bounds, take a penalty stroke, land in a sand trap, and still tell his father “If I can hit it out of the trap and into the hole, I can still make par.” Ever the optimist.
Hope is a good thing, especially if you consider that the opposite of hope is fear or despair. Hope, I believe, comes from a place of confidence. It may be rooted in self-confidence, the feeling that you will be able to handle whatever comes along. It may be based on confidence about life, that the world can be managed with enough patience and determination.
Or hope may be rooted in the belief in a Higher Power, the feeling that even if your hoped-for outcome does not come to fruition, God will be with you in good times and in bad. Hope connects the present to the future in a good way.
Some people perceive hope as naive, but there are real benefits of hopefulness and optimism. Feeling as though you will be able to overcome obstacles in order to reach your goal has been found to make achieving that goal more probable. Anxiety and depression are less likely to be found in hopeful individuals. Hopeful people don’t see a bad situation as being permanent. They know that it is transitory, and look for better times ahead.
That is what I am doing right now. Looking for better times ahead. I am not ready to sign up for any races. Yet. But I have made plans to go trail running with some friends in the near future. I will hope my trail running dreams work out, but if they don’t, there is always Plan B. Ever the optimist.
Suffering may not be optional, but the way we choose to view it, receive it, endure it, and be transformed by it are entirely up to us. – Kristin Armstrong