Pain in Perspective

Sometimes biking hurts. My legs burn while I climb a hill. My body is sore after a long ride. My mind wants to go faster than my limbs say they are capable of.
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Last Wednesday, I arrived at my church to set up everything for up worship practice after a fast, hard bike ride. I was running up and down the stairs, getting the sound system ready to go. My legs were like little lumps of jelly, protesting each dash up the staircase.

But then the other singers arrived to practice and I found out that one of the ladies has recently been diagnosed with moderate-to-severe arthritis. She also needs a knee replacement. To stand up for any length of time, she has to rock on her other leg to be able to endure the pain.  She remarked that if she stayed in bed all day, the pain would go away. But since she is the primary caretaker for her seven year grandson who is as adorable as he is energetic, laying in bed all day is simply not an option.

Instantly, grumbling at my sore legs felt massively silly and juvenile.  This lady lives with her pain on a daily basis. Pain that won’t let up, pain that signifies an aging body, pain without any benefits. She goes through so much suffering but she bears it with grace and poise.

I can’t help but see the contrasts with the pain I “endure” on my bike.

My pain is temporary.
If I want to make any discomfort end, the solution is simple. Back off, slow down, stop. Voila! Pain eradicated.

My pain is healthy.

Every time I push my body to go faster and further than it wanted to go, I am increasing my fitness and endurance. It makes me better at something I love to do.

My pain is optional.

I chose to make my body feel this way by pushing it beyond what felt comfortable.

My pain is satisfying.
When my body complains, it means I am working hard on my bike. And working hard on my bike feels good. It is fun to see just what my body is capable of.

This past week whenever I was out on my bike and my brain made me aware that what I was doing wasn’t comfortable, I reminded myself that this is the good kind of pain.

Someday, maybe due to an injury or an illness I will have to deal with “bad” pain. But until then I am going to be thankful for the discomfort I feel on my bike and the benefits I derive from it.

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28 thoughts on “Pain in Perspective

      • Haha, yes. I keep reminding myself that I need to change my profile picture, but I kinda want to hold out until someone can take a pic of me on my road bike. We shall see.

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      • Don’t get your hopes up too high. I may have a road bike but I still don’t have a stich of proper cycling kit. Well I guess I have clipless shoes, but that is about it!

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      • Don’t sweat that. It takes time. And money. A good helmet, padded gloves and clip less shoes are all that are necessary. Your next purchase s/b a pair of bibs if you don’t already have them. They make a big difference to both comfort and performance.

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      • Agree with the bibs – get the ones which have straps that go over your shoulders. MUCH more comfortable and you don’t have to worry about the bibs slipping down your waist, (if like me you have more belly than a cyclist should rightfully have).

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  1. I hear you…. sometimes when I feel sorry for myself because my legs hurt on a tough ride or after I just realise I must be thankful they hurt, it means I am alive, I am able bodied unlike some many less fortunate souls. Happy Trails.

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  2. This is lovely and so true. It’s really easy to forget about the pain that other people go through every day, to think that people are lazy or whatever for not exercising when we don’t actually realise just how hard standing up is for them!!! Even my knee pain which stops me cycling / running, although frustrating, is not “bad” pain because I know it will go away with a little bit of rest. This post was a good reminder to feel very grateful!

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    • I think you are pretty awesome for learning how to work around and with your knee pain, it is so easy to let even slight injuries or stress discourage us from our goals, kudos to you for not letting it stop you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Bike Life and commented:
    Great perspective! And I firmly believe by voluntarily putting ourselves in “healthy” pain, we at least forestall, if not lessen the onset and severity of these more severe forms of pain.

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  4. Great Post! A few recommendations for your pain. 1) A Cool down will greatly reduce your after fatigue and pain and allow for just as much exertion the next day. Ride an additional 5 minutes with your legs literally just spinning the pedals without any effort. If you have a power monitor, no more than 30% FTB. 2) I’m a HUGE fan of Recoverite by Hammer Nutrition. I like the Strawberry flavor. After every long ride I take 1.5-2 scoops with either milk, or my personal favorite, Bolthouse Farms Salted Caramel (you can find them in the veggie section of your grocery store, where they keep the refrigerated salad dressings).

    Ride On!

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  5. Yes! This exactly. the more you ride, the healthier you will be and for longer in your life. It is always good to be aware and helpful to people who are experiencing chronic pain. It affects every part of their lives. You are so empathetic. that is such a wonderful trait in a person.

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    • I have been blessed with good health my whole life but for many years I didn’t put it to good use. It wasn’t until I began biking that I realized what a gift a healthy body is.

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  6. Great post! The pain means progress and that’s awesome that you were able to put that into perspective. Keep on riding and forcing yourself up the hills. It’s easy to opt for the flat route, but hills are what make you stronger and faster. Before you know it, you’ll be going faster and feeling less fatigued.

    Also, you might want to add some strength training into your routine. You’d be amazed how much your cycling will benefit from a few reps of squats and lunges each week!

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    • Thank you so much for the encouragement and advice! There is something so fulfilling about pushing ourselves that little extra bit, isn’t there? And with awesome people like yourself helping me along the way, I will keep growing and learning 😀

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  7. Pingback: Pain in Perspective | Morning Journal

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