To the consenting [willing], no injury is done. In the law, the Latin maxim of “volenti non fit injuria” is typically used as a defense in a tort action–voluntary assumption of the risk. To most of us, it’s what we so lovingly know as the Death Waiver.
Lately, however, I’ve realized that this maxim applies with equal weight to the abuse I inflict upon my body: when I injure myself doing stupid things, I have no one to blame but myself. I have only become painfully aware of this in the last year, and especially in the few months leading up to, and post, World’s Toughest Mudder.
Let’s take inventory:
Issue: After WTM, I was left with gaping blister holes on my heels. It’s painful to put on any enclosed shoe, including any type of running shoes.
Smart Decision: Wear some supportive clog with an open heel, and take some time off.
Amelia’s Decision: Walk around and workout in Injinjis and flip-flops for a few days, and then suck it up and deal with the pain and put on running shoes anyway.
Result: Blisters, that could have healed within two weeks, are now just starting to heal. Running shoes are now virtually pain-free. I may have permanent holes there, however.
Issue: As a result of the 24-race and wearing unsupportive flip-flops post race, I have a loose bone chip in my first metatarsal. This chip is digging into my tendon, causing extensor tendonitis.
Smart Decision: Per podiatrist instructions, chalk up $$ for laser therapy on the tendon, and rest.
Amelia’s Decision: Chalk up $$ for the laser therapy, and train for S.E.R.E. by climbing stairs for an hour a day with a ruck on my back containing 20% of my body weight in sand. Lie to my podiatrist about this.
Result: Laser therapy was a waste of money, and I still have tendonitis. Anything in a plank position, including push-ups, is painful. Running is manageable, but not great. Again, I can’t wear heels for work (hell, it’s been months since I can wear heels) and had to go to court the other day in some marginally-acceptable flats. Hide feet to pray judge doesn’t see.
Not only are Amelia’s Decisions a current problem, but it seems to be a pattern. For example:
Issue: Shin splint in the right tibia while running, jumping, and training all last year.
Smart Decision: Take some time off from training and do physical therapy.
Amelia’s Decision: Do physical therapy, but continue training. Eat Advil like it’s candy. Buy KT tape in bulk. Run several races and continue to train for the marathon.
Result: Tibial stress fracture. 6 weeks in a boot. Missed marathon. WTM almost put in jeopardy. Rage ensues.
So yes, it’s my own damn fault. The sad thing is, there is a simple solution, and it’s one that very few of us athletes are willing to do.
Like many of you, I am the world’s worst rester. I cringe at recovery days. I get antsy sitting around on the couch watching TV, and I crave the endorphins. Let’s face it: we are a group that gets our kicks by abusing our bodies. We wear our war wounds proudly: our missing toenails, our frostbitten fingers, our dislocated shoulders. But to ever admit that we are hurt is a sign of weakness. A sign of being, excuse my French, a pussy.
So it’s time for me to admit that I need to start taking rest days seriously. I took three days off after WTM (which is a record for me), but was not nearly enough to let my body heal. In an unfathomable turn of events, I’m taking the next few days off. Sometimes it’s the strongest thing that we can do.