I was recently reminded of the serious consequences of not listening to my own inner voice. That reminder was painful.
My exercise of choice is running. In sixth grade, I joined the cross country team, and couldn’t believe it when I crossed the finish line of my first race in eleventh place.
I continued through high school, topping my “career” as third runner on the women’s five-member team. We took second place at state my junior year.
As I got older, even though I experimented with aerobics and other exercise alternatives, I kept coming back to running for its cardiovascular and weight-loss benefits.
Running has always come with a certain danger for me as well, however.
Ignoring Injuries Leads to More Injuries
I pronate quite a bit, so I need strong, stable shoes to avoid injury. I make out fine until the shoes start to lose their support and spring, after which I can suffer from tendonitis, ankle pain, and knee pain.
Last fall, my legs started giving me little hints that it was time for new shoes. Aches and pains popped up after my workouts. I heard my little voice telling me it was time to pay attention, but with Christmas coming, money was tight, and besides, I had so many other things to do before the end of the year.
I kept running. And I kept hurting. Nothing major, just little reminder pains. You’ve got to pay attention, the voice said. I think you need new shoes. Yes yes, I know. Just a little more time.
You probably know where this is going.
Why Is It So Hard to Listen to that Little Voice?
Christmas came and went. I spent a week suffering from a double ear infection and sinus infection, so was off my workouts for ten days. When I started to feel better, I got back on the treadmill.
It was only about a week into January when the pain got serious. I took a few days off. It felt better, so I went back to my workout. Of course I hadn’t had a chance to get new shoes yet.
The run got a little painful about two miles in. I pushed through it. It was nothing, I was sure.
Boy, was I wrong.
Now I’ve been laid up for over a week with serious tendon pain. The one on the inside of the tibia is inflamed, red, and extremely painful to the touch. The tendons around the ankle and arch are really messed up, as my heel is very painful and limits me to short walks at the most. I won’t be running now for at least another few weeks, maybe longer.
It’s given me time to think. Why is it so difficult for us to pay attention to that little voice inside us? Why is it so easy to brush it off?
Pay Attention to the Little Pains
“Maybe there are people who do trust themselves and follow their own advice,” writes Vessa on experienceproject.com, “but I am really good at just doing something different. Like eating something when I know I shouldn’t…even if I’m not hungry.”
According to Andrea Hepner at Wisdom a la Carte, “The issue is often when we keep going, running ourselves into the ground until we reach empty. And that is when our health starts to decline. We might get to bed too late, to get that deadline in, or get the kids’ clothes washed. But what we are really doing, is not listening to our intuition.”
Why don’t we listen? I guess that’s the million-dollar question.
In my case, I think I was too driven by other concerns to slow down enough to pay attention to what my body needed. In today’s world, I think that’s something I share with a lot of other busy folks.
But like one commenter on experienceproject.com said, “Experience is a mother fckr [sic]. Once you get enough you start listening to that little voice in your head that says, ‘NOOOOOOOO, don’t do that.’”
You can bet experience taught me to pay more attention to the little pains…before they become big ones.