Hospice care

When you say hospice, most people assume that the care is for people with cancer. I did.

On hearing that nurses from a local hospice were visiting my dad, a question came my mind.

Did he have cancer? I knew that he had pulmonary fibrosis, which means that lung function gradually deteriorates. But was there something else?

The answer was no. The hospice team were doling their daily work, caring for people who are at the end of their life, whatever the reason.

I have worked in healthcare for my whole career — 28 years this month. Yet I had made the assumption that hospices exist to look after people who have terminal cancer. Why had I never considered end of life care to be for all?

That is what this short blog is about. Simply because I wanted to share the right message in case other people were thinking the same. And I know some are from the responses I have had when talking about my dad.

Taboo

Death and dying remain taboo in our society. There is much fear, mainly due to the unknowns.

We don’t talk about death as a part of life, despite it being inevitable for all of us. We will all experience the passing of people we know and love, and we will pass ourselves.

In some cultures, death is openly discussed and meditated upon to accept it as the cycle of life. In particular, Buddhism comes to mind. One of the tenets of Buddhist life is impermanence.

Impermanence refers to the fact that nothing stays the same. This is what makes life possible and can of course give great hope. For instance, no matter how you are feeling right now, it will pass.

Easing the discomfort of the discussion about death is possible by shifting the focus to living well. This is the view taken by Death Cafes that exist to widen our thinking and reduce the fear.

End of life care

Perhaps this is something we only consider when necessary. By the time it is, the importance is clear.

Each experience is unique. Everyone has their own set of needs and version of events.

Fortunately mine was positive. Having said that, losing a parent was surreal. The last few weeks and then days were accompanied by a knowing that the end was near, but never really knowing when. Time was suspended.

The one thread of consistency came from the hospice. The attention to caring, the frequency of contact with dad, and the little touches all made a difference.

Essentially, the staff use all their knowledge, skills and experience to make the journey as comfortable as possible. It sounds like a cliche yet what else would you ask for?

I became incredibly aware of the need for such care. I wondered how many people receive this attention? How many don’t? Everyone should.

This is the because, the reason for running the SDW this weekend (in just over 12 hours). Raising money is always a bottom line and I’m so grateful for all those who have donated so far. I know there is more to come too. We will exceed the target. But….

….there’s more

To me, what is more important is having this conversation. Raising the awareness of the work that the hospice staff do each day for people who need care at the end of their life, whatever the reason.

Raising awareness I think will result in more donations and funding as people will organically realise the importance. That’s my hope anyway.

If you agree, then you may like to support St Wilfrid’s, Eastbourne. Whatever you can spare would be much appreciated, a few quid, a tenner, £20, £50 or £100. It all helps.

See here for Richmond’s Just Giving page.

On the trail

I’ll be heading off from Winchester about 8/830am tomorrow morning. If you see me, give me a wave. If you fancy trotting along for a few miles, do.

On we go.

Tapering

I used to think tapering meant feet up, hardly any running and lots of eating for a week or so before the event.

Wrong!

For pro advice, you can read about tapering with coach David Roche here. For anecdotal experience, read on.

How I used to taper

I looked forward to the tapering week, sometimes two. Take it easy, occasionally run a few k’s. By a few I mean 3-4. So very little.

It meant a week or so of eating whatever I wanted. Awesome!

Days of sitting around, usually reading. That’s not so bad. There’s always something to learn.

But there was something that quite right. Reaching race day as I did in May this year, I felt heavy. Heavy legged.

My overall programme, which could be named hit and miss at best, was ending with a slothful period.

What was I thinking?

To put on a positive spin, it was a learning experience that has led to something much better.

How I am tapering now

Good training is sustainable training

David Roche

Tapering is part of the programme. With a measured, gradual approach to building fitness, speed, resilience, quality movement, stability and more, I have no need to spend a week or two resting to recover.

Been there…..

The week before SDW 100 miler, my training now looks like this:

  • Saturday: 20k easy on trails, hilly not steep. Run down hills with brakes off (building courage and skill)
  • Sunday: 10k easy + 4 x 30 sec hills (fast & smooth)
  • Monday: rest day, stretching/mobility, breathing
  • Tuesday: 10k easy, core/stability training
  • Wednesday: 8k easy
  • Thursday: 5k easy
  • Friday: 5k easy
  • Saturday: SDW

Feeling rested, ready, and relishing the opportunity to hit the trail next Saturday.

Now that is tapering.

Daily practices

Several times a day I stretch with micro practices dotted through the day – balance, stretch, mobilise, massage gun, roll, yoga pose, mindful breathing.

Most days I will sit and meditate. Other days are micro meditations of a few minutes. I am lucky because I get to practice with people most days as well in the clinic when we look at different ways to change state, create calm and clarity to help overcome persistent pain.

Walking. I walk everywhere.

Standing. At home I stand to work. In the clinic, I get up and move around often as a matter of course.

Our mind’s are embodied. Thinking emerges from the body state and the body state can depend upon what we are thinking. There really is no separation. We have just the one experience.

Hence, movement is a fundamental part of being at our best.

Upandrun.

Onwards.

RS.

PS/ If you would like to support the work of St Wilfrid’s Hospice, please donate here. We are over half way to the target, so your help is much appreciated.

The team looked after my dad and us so well in his final days. To help them continue this vital end of life care is so important to our society.

Thanks

Easy running

I would never have imagined that a monk would teach me to run.

Over the past three months or so, following my DNF in May, I have been getting it together by following a training programme.

This was a programme put together by record breaking ultrarunner Damian Hall. He bases much of his coaching on the approach by David Roche. David is a great advocate of easy running — you can run as easy as you like.

Easy running makes you quicker. Didn’t you know? I am not going to explain to you how, because David can here.

I can tell you that it works from my own experience.

I was pretty broken after two years of non-stop ultras. The pushing, straining, mile after mile initially worked, but the stress on my body caught up. You can’t keep going at that intensity without something giving. I see these folk in the clinic — the ones who are stuck.

So easy together with consistent and regular movements, stretches, stability and strength with have built me a base. What’s more, it has brought the joy back and the confidence to keep going. Perfect timing too with the SDW 100 miler next Saturday.

Thich Nhat Hanh

A great advocate of mindful walking, Thich Nhat Hanh encourages us to slow down, be in the here and now and cultivate a peaceful way.

I used to try and practice mindful running, but somehow had put this way to the back. Instead, I became over-focused on the feelings in my body and trying to work them out. This was part of the reason for the DNF. It is unsustainable because every little ache and pain becomes amplified.

Together with the easy running, I thought I would listen to Thich as I trotted along. To be able to listen to someone or a podcast whilst running means that your pace is easy — not stressful.

Thich guides many meditations, but the one I was listening to resonated. It also worked in as much as I became calmer and calmer, running relaxed and easy. Perfect!

This is the kind of practice I share with people who come to see me. Most if not all benefit from creating a calmer embodied mind having been dealing with many different challenges at the root of their suffering. Persistent pain in particular and the consequences.

The beauty of the practice is that it is so simple. Whilst it may not be for all runners, if you are someone who wants to master the easy run to become quicker, you may find it helpful.

Here are the words. I will share a recording soon.

Try this if you like.

The practice

Run easy, which means with flow, smoothness and upright, using your body as a guide — no strain. Notice your breathing, but do not try to change it or control it. One way is to place your attention at the end of your nose and become aware of the air flowing in and flowing out.

With your awareness now upon the flow of your breath, silently say to yourself: breathing in, I am aware I am breathing in. Breathing out, I am aware I am breathing out. The shorten to breathing in, breathing out.

This brings your attention to your breath in the here and now. If your mind wanders, simply start again. This is a practice.

Some people enjoy the presence and rhythm that this brings, somehow becoming part of the overall movement of running.

A further mantra that I use to remain present and at ease is: breathing in, I calm my mind. Breathing out, I run easy. Then shortened to calm mind, easy running.

Of course, you can create your own as well. Choose words that give you gentle direction that you can follow.

Notice what happens.

Let me know if you like. I’d love to hear.

Next time, some thoughts on nose breathing — because that is what it is there for.

Happy running!

RS

PS/ If you are up on the South Downs Way next Saturday-Sunday and see me or want to join me for a few miles, let me know. I am running to raise £ for St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne and in memory of my dad: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richmond-stace11

upandrun 21

Brick Richmond from Brickrunners

Back on the trail tomorrow for upandrun 21

Tomorrow is my birthday. My present to myself is to run from home to where I was born for upandrun 21.

21 is not my age.

The idea came from the Pegasus Ultrarunning guys. They have created an Ultra Marathon Birthday Hall of Fame.

Of course, the primary purpose is to raise awareness of the problem of chronic pain that besieges so many people across the globe.

It is also to share hope as our knowledge and understanding of pain advances at a rapid rate. As a result we can help people shape positive futures.

Further, ultrarunning is a way to experience one’s own pain and learn — blog here.

The route

It is a mixed bag. A good amount of the trail will be along the South Downs Way as I head from Ditchling Beacon to Eastbourne.

From there I will find my way along the coast to Hastings, where it all began. I don’t remember that day, but I know it happened.

The distance will end up around 80k I would suspect. Time? No idea. I always get that wrong.

One of the beauties of heading off on a long bimble is the loss of a sense of time. I often have no idea of the hour. There is only this moment. Truly present.

As ever, pics will be on social media.

Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

RS

ultrarunning to understand pain and share hope

Heading off to the Menai Bridge for September upandrun

There is a purpose for my ultrarunning, and it is mainly to share hope.

You may have seen the tagline I was using for the September upandrun: ‘ultrarunning to understand pain and share hope’. Here is why.

Ultrarunning to understand pain

Running for long distances means being on your feet for hours, moving along. On the journey, you discover much about yourself — you find out what is under the hood.

Under normal circumstances, we use our resources to deal with challenges as they arise. Life is full of uncertainty (more than certainty), twists and turns. That is the way.

What we can do is to focus on controlling the controllables. What can we control? Our approach and attitude.

Suffering comes from the way that we think about any given situation. Prior to this, it is merely a situation. This has long been realised by philosophers and others.

Life is a journey — cliche yet true. How do you approach the journey? How do you deal with things when they don’t go your way? The style that you use will determine whether you see it as an opportunity (to learn) or an obstacle?

Ultrarunning is the same. You set out on a journey that will be full of unknowns. When you are trotting along and feel great, it is wonderful. What about when you are in pain, feel sick, are hit with fatigue and hunger and thirst and more? How do you respond? How do you keep going?

Sunrise from the Little Orme

The concept of the pain cave describes the place you can go. It is dark.

But, there is ultimate learning about oneself in the pain cave to the point that many embrace the experience.

Pain is inevitable on an ultra.

You become your own experiment (n=1) as you examine your perceptions and thoughts shaped by the very actions you are making. When you change the way you move, your thinking changes — embodied cognition at work. Thoughts are very much grounded in the state of our body, and the state of our body is determined by the focus of our attention. Expectations also play a significant role — we see the world that we expect to see.

As inevitable pain emerges, the opportunity arises to closely examine the sensations and how they change. Different perspectives and different language all shape the experience. Noticing a shift in running pattern, perhaps leaning forward or the head dropping, one can lift and be taller to notice the change in perspective.

What is the story I am telling myself in these moments? If I alter the words, what happens? I notice how attached I am to that particular narrative and how easy or hard it is to let it go. Bringing my purpose to mind, or a loved one and there can be a sudden transformation of state.

Heavy moments are normal. Body, legs, head suddenly feel like sacks of wet sand — have you ever tried to move one? But you know that this will pass, like all perceptions. Nothing is permanent. This insight alone pulls me back from the mire of thoughts.

Our perceptions and bodily sensations are dynamic — always changing. Life is not static, instead fluid and moving onwards. It is the story that stays the same. The one we have been conditioned to believe is true.

Then you realise that there are infinite stories and possibilities. Freedom.

Ultrarunning teaches you about freedom.

I can examine my own experiences under duress and elucidate my resources my journey continues. The finish line is of course the beginning of the next.

Sharing hope

My message is one of hope.

Both the knowledge of pain and what we can do to guide, support and encourage people to live fulfilling lives has grown enormously.

We have much better answers to the questions (start here):

  • what is pain?
  • why do we feel pain?
  • what is the purpose of pain?
  • what can we do to improve our lives?

Many of the strategies, practices and techniques to transform and overcome pain are taken from the skills of being well, peak performance and strengths based coaching. Over the past 10 years or so, I have called this Pain Coaching.

There is a simple principle. The more you focus on the pain and try to treat it, the worse the outcome. The more you focus on the person and how they want to shape their life, the better the outcome.

Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. As soon as you are saying, ‘I don’t want this pain’, we focus right back on the pain.

Instead, re-focus on your picture(s) of success and the steps you can take right now in that direction. This is an approach and an attitude. You will need some help, it will be up and down, but

There is great hope for many. This is my message.

RS

Conversation with Adharanand Finn

I first met Adharanand in 2019 when I went on a writing and running retreat in Devon that he was co-hosting with Richard Askwith.

We kept in touch.

A few weeks ago I took the opportunity to whizz down to Dartmoor for a one day running camp: The Way of the Runner. This time it was co-hosted by Adharanand and Barefoot Joe. It was a great day, as I expected.

As we said farewell, getting ready to head home from the car park, we mooted the idea of a conversation.

And here it is. Eau naturale. Anecdotes about and idiosyncrasies of ultrarunning.

Enjoy.

Recovery

Having a break with Jeff @ 90k

Recovery is part of the journey

Much is said about recovery. This is largely because there is no single way to recover after a run. Each person must find what works for them: the art of recovery.

I’ll share some brief thoughts in the form of top tips, off the back of September’s upandrun along the North Wales Path. But, bear in mind what I have just said about the individual nature of recovery.

1. Recovery stops during an ultra

When I run, I now always opt for normal foods rather than gels and the like. This can include any of the following, depending upon the stage of the run: fruit, pasta, sweets, ginger beer, nuts, seeds, flapjacks, a bagel, samosa, coffee, water.

On the longer runs, rest and recovery stops are important for me. On solos, they are fairly brief, but nonetheless, there is relief in sitting down for a few minutes and having a bite to eat.

This is in keeping with my running philosophy that is just for me: finish line, not finish time. I want to fully experience the journey, enjoying the ride as much as I can. There is no rush for me. I am not interested in times, instead just building my belief that ‘I can’ in life.

2. Immediately at the end of an ultra

I enjoy a pizza and a beer.

The most memorable was ending up in Bath one evening, having run down from Gloucester along The Cotswold Way. It had been a pretty foul day and off the back of a period of serious rain in the UK. You can imagine the state I was in….

They were most welcoming in Pizza Express despite my appearance. I was served quickly. Looking back, this may have been so that I left promptly!

3. Recovery takes a little while

The things you do to recover span a period of time. It is an on-going process until you feel back to normal: homeostasis is the goal.

Choose your fuel and sources of hydration according to your needs. It can be a bit up and down after an ultra.

For instance, I will feel hungry and eat. Then feel a bit queasy. And then hungry again and so on.

Whatever you do to recover then, be complete and see it through. This could of course include all of the elements I discuss.

4. Sleep

This might just be the most important one.

Understanding sleep as arguably the keystone of wellness, creating a good habit is vital for recovery and performance at all levels of participation.

Unfortunately, in the modern era, sleep has taken a back seat. For some reason, a lack of sleep has been championed as some kind of machismo feat: I can work for 23 hours a day….how incredible am I? I can be out all night and then carry on….

But it is not. What that is, is a one way ticket to poor performance and health. And probably a shorter life. There are some brutal facts. But we know that people don’t always like to pay attention to the facts.

Bottom line. Try to get the best quality sleep (7-8 hours) as many nights as you can.

5. A special ingredient

When we pay attention, we can realise that there might just be one ingredient that makes a difference. On that, I have made a recent discovery.

CBD oil and balm.

Having had a good chat with Celine from Wholy Me, I was happy to try the drops and balm as part of my daily routine and recovery.

Acknowledging that it is a case study of one, me, I have been taking the drops each day, and massaging the balm as required into sore bits.

I finished the ultra on Monday evening, having started the previous night at 1030pm. My watch told me that I had been going for 18 and a half hours, covering some 120k.

It was time to recover.

Yesterday I was running again, albeit an easy pace and concentrating on form. I like to do this anyway: a slow run (speaking pace), focusing on being relaxed and tall.

I am fortunate to recover seemingly quickly after an ultra. Perhaps because of my monthly jaunts since May 2019.

But this appeared to be quicker than ever. Was it the CBD routine? One cannot say for sure. Expectations also play a significant role, and I do expect to be moving almost normally by day two.

So, I will continue with the CBD as part of my daily rituals alongside other habits: cold shower in the morning, various supplements, mindful practice, movement, attendance to fuel and hydration, and sleep to name a few.

For it is the small things behind the scenes, accumulating their effects each day that make the difference.

Just in case you are wondering, I do believe that the CBD is making a difference to me.

6. Bonus: motion is lotion

Keep moving.

It is tempting to stay still and rest. But it is movement we need to nourish the muscles, joints, nerves and more.

Easy movements, getting up, changing position, trying to maintain best form, and being regular are all important for recovery.

They are also vital day to day because the way we use our body will shape its form. And it is that form you take into running and other activities.

If you sit for long periods, parts of your body will tighten. You will then try to move those parts vigorously in sports causing adaptation and excess strain. This is one of the major reasons for the gradual onset of pain and sensitivity.

The body also keeps a record of every emotion and experience you have. We must look after ourselves as a whole if we want to perform.

RS

Preparing for an ultra

To show September upandrun route
North Wales Coast Path

Preparing for an ultra requires planning. It is also a time to take it easy and eat.

Update on the route

I am now planning to start at the Menai Bridge.

Having looked at the path along the North Wales Coast, it became apparent that an acknowledged leg runs from the Bridge to Chester. Or vice versa, which is the way that I am travelling — East to West.

This extends the route a little to 131k.

In the meantime…

I am looking at the maps to build in my sense of the journey and to arrange the rest stops. Here I will meet Jo and Chico for fuel, fluids and any other bits and bobs that help me to keep going. Perhaps a change of socks.

Jeff is joining me for the last 30-40k.

Ffynnongroyw or Mostyn.

To show the meeting point with Jeff
Meet Jeff

This week is an easy week: a few relaxed runs help to keep moving, plenty of sleep and nourishing food.

I’ll gradually be pulling my kit together. It maybe chilly running through the night. Perhaps it will rain. Must be prepared.

So,

  • Head torch
  • Charger + cables
  • Waterproof
  • Phone
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Buff
  • Fluids
  • Snacks
  • First aid pack
  • Cuddly toy

I try to keep it simple. Minimal.

RS

 

September upandrun

Richmond's route for September 2020

September upandrun ~ Bangor to Chester

This month sees the return of the 100k + distance as I trot along from Bangor to Chester.

For some time I have been chatting with Jeff, an UP ambassador, about running together. So, I am delighted and excited to say that Jeff is joining me for the last leg — I will be on my last legs, that’s for sure!

Jeff is a great encourager. He is a coach, a facilitator, a writer and much more. Jeff has a book coming out soon, which I know will be superb. I am going to ask him to write a blog about it.

I also have crew for this one. Jo, my wife, has agreed to drive along the route and keep me supplied. She will be ably assisted by Chico.

Chico will be part of the support crew
Chico

Here’s the plan:

Drive up to Anglesey on Sunday. Set off around midnight, wrapped up and be-torched.

Make my way along the coast line through the night. Meet Jo and Chico at dawn with fresh supplies.

Keep going.

Find Jeff.

Keep going.

Have a beer and a pizza.

Lie on the back seat and be driven home.

Why?

To raise awareness: pain is one of the largest global health burdens affecting millions and costing billions.

There is much we can do as a society.

It starts with understanding pain. From there, people can feel educated, empowered and enabled to move on and shape a positive future.

This is the purpose of Pain Coaching, an approach I began pioneering around 10 years ago.

Thanks to…

Recently I started using Wholy Me organic products: the drops and the balm.

The drops I use each day, morning and evening. The balm I apply, using self-massage, as needed. This is quite often as I usually have some aches and pains from training and running.

I have no other me to compare, however, my own experience is certainly one of overall calming and soothing on a day to day basis. The balm relieves my local soreness. It is a great combo.

Recently, I had a chat with Celine from Wholy Me on Instagram Live. I shared my thoughts and experiences. The Wholy Me Instagram page is here.

Here’s the blog that Wholy Me wrote about our conversation.

I will certainly be taking my drops and balm with me!

Please share so that we can give hope!

Over the past 5 years there has been a significant increase in the understanding of pain as a perception. This enables us to offer a wide range of practices, exercises and ways to help, guide and support people along their journey to improve their lives.

See the Resources tab on the site for articles and talks, and more on the Specialist Pain Physio site; podcasts and blog (Richmond’s clinic site)

You can see the photos from September upandrun on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter.

RS

Ultra running: my first year

Richmond on the trail

My first year, what have I learned from ultra running?

I started ultrarunning at the start of 2019 as I prepared for a run around the Isle of Wight in May. My decision to take up ultra-distance came before.

In July 2018 whilst waiting for a mate, Chris, to finish Race to the Stones, I had a strong urge to give it a go. The vibe at the finish line was exciting and infectious. I loved the unconditional support for each runner as he or she finished. At the same time, I was wondering how it would be possible to run all day over that distance; 100k.

Soon enough, Race to the Stones was in my diary for 2019. How do I prepare, I wondered? That was when I came up with the idea of the Isle of Wight 106km challenge in two halves. This was to be my first experience of running an ultramarathon, trotting round the island. It was awesome and I was hooked.

In fact, I was so hooked that I quickly booked another race. This time it was a full-on 100k in one day from London to Brighton. And on it went.

At some point I decided that it should be monthly. Partly because I had a cause, #upandrun, and partly because the way to get over the last run is to organise another.

For some time I resisted calling myself a runner. I think that I now qualify. Plus Adharanand Finn told me so.

This is on the basis that I am out at least 5 days a week, covering 70-100k, and our habits form our self-identity. I also have a good collection of running books, often watch running films on YouTube, have a box of running shoes, a selection of hydration vests and running belts, headphones, and a pile of running clothes.

Also, I often find myself talking about running. Typically to myself or on #ukrunchat.

Learnings:

I can

First up, a sense that I can and will complete the task at hand. I start here and end there. By whatever human means, I will make it to the other side. That is not to say that a DNF (did not finish) is not possible, as part of the adventure is the stretch, the push and the risk. Anything is possible en route.

The unknown beckons. Uncertainty is fuel as each moment unfolds, step by step along the changing terrain: trails, roads, fields and more. Each footfall is new and feels different.

Ending up somewhere that started as a mere pin drop on a map beholds a deep sense of connection with one’s own resources. These are available to us each day of course, no matter what we are doing.

Discomfort

Running an ultra is decidedly uncomfortable, which is putting it mildly.

The perceived bodily pain in the form of muscle and joint noise, stomach pains, the blisters, the chaffing, the rubbing from the straps and more.

You plan what you will do in the tough moments. Visualisations, mantras, music and plain old ignoring, all have their time. What can I focus upon? Some prefer a more mindful approach.

To be mindful is to be completely aware and present. There is no judgement: good or bad? Who knows? This is the practice. Noticing all sensations, thoughts and feelings as they arise and pass on. Nothing is permanent.

What do I learn from this deep discomfort? I understand my mind under pressure: what do I think? What are my leanings? How much am I prepared to endure to reach the other end? In essence, I learn what is under the hood. We all have much more than we might think.

Day to day, it means we can deal with the inevitable ups and downs of life with a clearer perspective. This allows us to make better choices.

Nature

Out in nature for hour upon hour, you cannot help but connect. Or reconnect. You see the planet as you pass through: the changing shades, shapes, sounds and smells.

Nature bathing or forest bathing enriches our wellness. At least two hours a week is beneficial. As a trail runner, you may be out for five to ten hours or more a week, sucking it all in.

Touching nature lets you into its secret world. Paradoxically, it is protective and nourishing, yet also a source of extreme danger if you stop paying attention. Rocks, cliffs, rivers, tree roots all create a wonderful landscape. But, lose touch with your body for too long and you may come a cropper.

Interconnectedness

Wrapped up with the immersion in nature, you realise the interconnectedness of things. As well as creating the perception of nature, ‘I’ am also within and part of that very nature.

During a race I am interconnected with other runners. It is a wonderful state of interbeing. We are all in this together, sharing the experience through our own unique lenses.

Both this and a sense of loyalty towards nature means that the world takes on a new importance as our collective home. Artificial boundaries dissolve.

Awe

One of the experiences I love most is reaching the top of a hill or mountain and absorbing the view. The feeling of awe is potent.

Our significance pales. Self-importance fades if it was there in the first place. How small I really am in this world.

Pain

It would not be a blog from me without mentioning the P word. This is not the same as discomfort. I somewhat blended these above.

Western culture promotes the idea that we should be comfortable; perhaps even deserving it because …… . This is on the basis that more comfort results in more happiness. It’s an idea. It’s wrong. There has not been an increase in happiness (a fleeting emotion like all the rest) by having more comfort.

It is through discomfort and challenge that we have the opportunity to grow and learn.

Pain is different. Pain is complex. Pain is human. And, pain is far too fascinating to nail in a few words here. That is for another time.

On perceiving pain, we try to elucidate the meaning. What is my need? It can often run deep. Pain is poorly related to tissue state or injury; although slightly better perhaps in an acute scenario. Pain is about the person, their life, the context, their past experiences, their expectations, their outlook and more.

Pain is poorly understood. This is the reason why persistent pain continues to be one of the largest global health burdens.

And what of ultrarunning and pain? Yes, they come together. We have to expect it, and welcome it rather than resist. The latter only causes more suffering.

On the run, there are a number of ways to deal with pain. Again a big topic. Suffice for now and this blog to acknowledge the normalcy of pain, an experience that many of the well-known runners describe.

I have been making study of pain for some years now, both the science and the experience. Ultrarunning gives me insights that I did not have before. All of this will be explored at a later date.

There are of course plenty of other lessons learned. You will have your own to ponder upon and share.

On we go. Step by step: the run I am on, and in life.

RS