Pain and I: A Love Story

15 06 2011

Pain. Lungs burning, legs on fire, muscles tearing, heart exploding – this is the pain that I enjoy, even crave.

When I wake up at five in the morning to go run, it is partly the pain which I know awaits that makes me jump out of bed with excitement. Off I go: as I slowly pick up the pace, I can feel my heart shifting up a gear. It starts to pump harder, faster. I feel my lungs, too – they begin, slowly, cautiously, to press against my chest. Ah-ha! My excitement edges up a notch. Yes, it’s going to be a good run. It’s going to be a good day. Why? Because I can feel the pain just peeping around the corner, ready to embrace me.

I start to pump my arms with more force. I put more bounce in each of my strides. I land on the balls of my feet, and instantly push off, propelling myself forwards, upwards – towards that wonderful thing called ‘pain’. Steadily now and with increasing speed, I’m cruising up the hill. At first, it feels effortless. I think to myself, I can keep on going like this forever! But then the pain comes.

Your legs start to feel like someone has attached huge weights to them. They are burning in the lactic acid build up. It’s as if the acid is corroding the insides of you legs, and each extra step tears a little hole in your muscle fibres. Likewise for the heart and lungs – they’re ablaze, in flames, sizzling. Any time now, I’m expecting to just disintegrate, melt away.

And yet I continue running up that hill. There are morning hikers dotted along the route. Some ignore me, but some give me a small smile. What are they smiling about, I wonder? It’s probably a smile of incredulity: why on earth is the girl putting herself through this??

I smile back. The pain doesn’t hurt – far from it. It wakes me up. It makes me boundlessly happy. I feel as if I’m at the top of the world. Pain hasn’t conquered me, nor have I conquered pain.

No, pain and I have fused into one – and the sensation is priceless.

 

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