There’s a point on Jacob’s Ladder where the pain in my legs feels sharp and red and hot. It always happens on the first lap, before I’ve broken a sweat and way before I’m up to full speed. It happens again on lap 6 and sometimes on 16.
It’s a pain that asks why and raises doubts. Why are you doing this? Are you sure you’re not going to give yourself an injury? Have the day off. There’s always tomorrow. The pain and the doubts are like a bickering husband and wife, one needling, the other nagging.
When I’m going hard the needling and nagging stop. Gone is the anxiety and the doubt. All that’s left are the steps and the heavy, rhythmic breathing; and the pain. It’s still there but it no longer hurts. It’s not frightening or scary and it’s there with no doubt.
It simply exists. As I lean into the pain the fear goes away. In its place is an intimacy, where the sweating and the breathing and the burning become one.
It’s at that point I feel invincible and courageous, as if nothing and no-one could defeat me.
Perhaps it’s passing through the wall that runners experience. Perhaps it’s endorphins and chemicals.
But for me it’s something more, like when resistance dissolves and two people lean in for their first kiss. When the mind and the voices stop, when the body and the moment and the experience is all that there is.
And it all happens when I lean into the pain.
Photo credit:: DavidMartynHunt on Flickr