Monday, February 27, 2012

Breaking Through the Wall

On my long run over the weekend I realized there is (for me at least) a metaphysical dead zone that occurs at mile 10. I've already come so far, and yet, cannot even imagine continuing to put one foot in front of the other. It didn't help that there was a cold winter wind blowing in my face, but I can't say the wind caused my incredible sense of hopelessness. It was more that given I'd run 10 miles, knowing I had to cover another 6 and believing I couldn't even do another 1, that I felt an incredible urge to throw in the towel and go home. If I hadn't been so far from home, I likely would have done so.

Instead, knowing that the only way I'd get to rest was to cover the ground I'd committed to, I forced myself to keep moving. When I hit mile 14, I suddenly found the strength to finish. I don't know what happened during those four "lost" miles, but at some point it occurred to me that there is pain in what I'm doing - that the human body cannot continue to add miles, force physiological adaptation, and become stronger without pain. At some point I just started repeating the mantra: "this really hurts and it's supposed to". The pain was not an indication that something was wrong, it was an indication that my muscles were fatigued.

The corollary to sobriety is obvious. Almost so obvious that it's not worth stating, but here I go anyway. In sobriety, there are so many things that hurt. Life goes on, and eventually you hit these pain points. They come and go - exhaustion, pain, and exhilaration go hand in hand. And it's okay. One foot in front of the other, and eventually you do break through the wall. Eventually things do get better. Eventually, you get to rest. And when you look back and see how far you've come, you're amazed.


  1. Love this! I totally relate. I often get through my 'walls' by actually thinking about how it mirrors my recovery. My racing and training are astonishingly parallel to my sober path. So grateful for both.

    1. I agree. It feels so obvious to point it out, but is is an unexpected gift of running. It reminds me that growth happens albeit slowly sometimes.

  2. Yeah, I think of it as "Wait, Wait, Just Wait.. this will pass". One thing is certain, time does pass. It's just how we choose to pass it. I think of the HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS I spent thinking about wine, obtaining it, drinking it, recovering from it. Now those hours are free of that I have to get used to having a brain that must think of other things. Sometimes those things are negative, but mostly neutral or positive. Certainly always wine free. Hallelujah. xxx

  3. I like what you have to say about strength and pain. I firmly believe in the saying 'No pain, no gain.' The body MUST break through to the other side; be it psychologically, physically, emotionally. I deal with this in my practice at work.

    Go, you, on your running. SO, so proud of you.


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