Thursday, December 16, 2010

Oh Man!

It has been painful to watch Brett Favre’s effort this season to keep his streak of consecutive games played alive. As he has grown less mobile he has taken quite a beating and until this past Monday’s game when it got to be too much, he played through extreme amounts of pain and injury. I was reminded of the knight in Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” who, as he has each of his limbs cut off by an opponent, shouts out “just a flesh wound”. What makes a man keep on going when it is clear to all those around him that it is time for a break?

That question is deliberately worded. I specifically wrote “man” because in our culture, as well as many others, there is a belief that when a man gets hurt he should keep on going. Quitting, under all circumstances is seen as cowardly, no matter the degree of injury. Famed boxer Muhammad Ali literally kept on fighting until his brain was damaged. Even taking a much needed day off is frowned upon.

Recently, a friend of mine was injured 16 miles into a marathon. His injury was bad enough that he had to walk the last 10 miles. Still, rather than taking a break from running, or going to see a doctor, he decided to tough it out. He figured he could keep on running and the injury would go away. I was not the only one who advised him against this. Many of us pointed out that it was not it to risk long term injury for short term running. Still our pleas fell on deaf ears.

The amazing point about all this was that while I was dealing out this obvious and sensible advice, I too was trying to run through an injury. While it seemed crazy for my friend to ignore our suggestion, was it not outright insanity for me to do so?

Well, I might be crazy but I am not nuts. I finally decided to heed my own advice. I took a few days off from running. I went through a few days of pool running and riding the stationary bike, two activities that I fear one day might literally bore me to death. I have just started running again, more slowly and for shorter distances than usual. I am hoping this injury is behind me and that I can ratchet up my training again. Backing off from running might not make me less of a man, but, oh man, it drives me crazy.

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