The Gift of Discomfort

My troublesome right calf remains the same. Meaning, when I run I notice that it’s There, slightly tighter than my left, and the candidate to tighten up if I do an aggressive run. It’s been an annoyance, but over the past couple days, as I’ve continued to run on it with no change in status, good or bad, it seems that I’ve transitioned from feeling fear and frustration about my calf to, well, making friends with my irritation for the offending limb. The slight tightness that I feel at the beginning of each run hasn’t yet had a negative impact on my training (i.e., I haven’t had to miss a scheduled run), so it may actually be a good thing.

You see, someone like me is spurred into action by discomfort, and lucky for me, I’m never completely without it. Ha. While I’d say I’m pretty chill and happy, there is always a little bit of torque in me. And I like that.

Sometimes my discomfort takes the form of want. That desire is what excites me about my list of goals and ideas and projects. This year alone, I’m planning on continuing to improve my French (because one day I want to live in France for a few months), setting new PRs for my marathon and half marathon times, and becoming even more active in social causes and volunteer work. I can’t wait to do all those things! Like I wake up Ready, ya know? Other times discomfort looks like restlessness, and that itchiness is what pushes me to try something new or see if I can’t improve something. Sometimes discomfort can be downright painful, but even then, it’s that unhappiness that’s compelled me to make some difficult but necessary changes in my life over the years.

On a lighter note, the discomfort of my slight aches and pains reminds me to be diligent about stretching, rolling, icing, etc. Basically all those pedantic, time-consuming maintenance tasks that I might have blown off if I were completely healthy. Let’s be honest. I would never do boring glute exercises if I hadn’t had IT band issues. And trust me, I’d rather jump in the shower asap than stand on my front porch doing calf raises after a run, but this bothersome calf reminds me that it’s necessary I do them for my body to withstand the hard training ahead. Each time I feel that twinge in my calf, it’s a prompt: calf raises first, shower second.

Another thing I’ve learned about discomfort is that I can tolerate it. If you’ve ever run a my-heart-is-about-to-jump-out-of-my-chest pace for a 5K or willed yourself through the wall in a marathon or anywhere in between, then you know about discomfort. You also know that it passes and that you can get through it. In the end, it’s “just” discomfort. No one is dying here. (I know, I know, those last 6.2 in a marathon feel like it.) That’s real good information to know about yourself.

Little aches and twinges can be annoying. I wish I had a young, springy, injury-free body, but it’s not my reality, so I’ve learned to make peace with it. More than that, I’ve come to realize that discomfort can be motivating and educational. A true gift.


2 thoughts on “The Gift of Discomfort

  1. I get slight aches and pains all of the time. It’s almost like I’m looking for something to be wrong. After I ran the Goofy Challenge in Disney, I had achilles issues. The pain is gone now but like you mentioned, I feel the achilles. Its a weird feeling and no one should feel it. Haha. I hope the feeling you are having eventually goes away!!

    1. Thanks Heather! I hope it goes away too, but from what I’ve gathered runners always have something going on. Guess it’s just the nature of it. Hope your Achilles ache disappears soon!

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