Re-evaluating Pain Tolerance - an open letter from an (ex)runner

Hey there, Birdhouse friend. Kate here. 

If you're reading this from South Mississippi, you are well aware of how cold it is. On chilly mornings like this, I'm on auto-pilot until I finish a hot bath and a cup of even hotter coffee. 

I do some of my best thinking in a good bubble bath.

I mean who doesn't love having major life revelations while his or her body turns into a prune? *Confession: I love prunes & I couldn't care less if you make fun of me for it.

Today was no different. As my feet emerged from hibiscus-scented bubble lava, I was jarred by just how ugly they are. I mean really these poor feet of mine. Years of overtraining abuse stared me in the face. Yikes. I guess I shouldn't be shocked that running an average of 6-8 miles a day for 8 years doesn't exactly leave your toesies ready for a "sand in the feet" Instagram post.

I wish I could say that my feet were the only thing that has suffered from my overtraining over the years. My skin, knees, hips, stomach & central nervous system have all screamed for an HR intervention as a result of how running has treated them. 

I decided to investigate the claims for the first time last November.

I've prided myself on having a "high pain tolerance" for years, so being all but crippled after a long, tempo run was nothing new. Intro one of the toughest pills I'm still adjusting to swallowing.

My "normal" isn't automatically synonymous with "healthy." 

As I hobbled into a friend's house for a quick visit last November, he immediately drew attention to my hunched stance & bloodied toes. "What the heck happened to you?" 

"Oh, I just went for a run. This happens fairly often," I replied.

"That's not norma.." he started to say as I interrupted, "No, you don't understand."

Thank heavens for friends who aren't scared to go toe-to-toe with my stubborness.

My interruption was quickly rebutted with a firm, "Used-to & normal are not the same thing. That is NOT normal."

That was the last time I went running. 

Looking at my feet this morning reminded me just how many times I've ignored my body's pain signals. I hate admitting this, but every one of my major injuries is a direct result of overtraining. I could win an Oscar for my ability to act like something doesn't hurt, so no one tells me to take a day off. I'm such a good actor that I've even fooled myself into thinking I wasn't the villain in my own story on this one.

Here's the part that really stings - What did ignoring the warning sirens for years really get me? A brief runner's high & a sticker for my car. 

As a content strategist who spends a good portion of her days doing cost-benefit analysis for clients, that realization was a knockout punch straight to jaw. 

I can't help but correlate this lesson in re-evaluating pain tolerance to other areas of my life. 

Pun 100% intended here - running isn't the only activity I've been known to run myself into the ground over.

Katie & I both will tell anyone that we are workaholics. We both like to work hard & while we may intend to play hard, neither of us excels at leaving even an inch of space for fun on any given day.

Yesterday, like most Mondays, was no exception to that. We got to the cafe early Monday morning, & somehow thought it was realistic for us to try to run a cafe, content plan, cook for our meal-prep customers & shoot a cookbook at the same time. I mean, we're both pretty nimble with spinning 50 plates at a time, but I can't help but deliriously giggle at us as I type out that fairy world to-do list. 

When 5 o'clock rolled around & not an even halfway respectable chunk of what we expected for the day had been done, both of us felt frazzled & defeated. What was supposed to be shooting 15-20 full recipes had turned into 4 half-done recipes & an overwhelming amount of hanger-induced agitation. Next thing I know, we're on the road to run a couple hundred mile errand & attempting to "plan" our shoots for the rest of the week. Because hitting the end of your rope logically means push harder, right?

Somewhere on that road trip we realized just how badly our "pain tolerance" for overcommitting to work needed re-evaluation. Both of our brains were fried. Our emotional bandwidth was zapped. And our bodies were screaming for anything but coffee & more stress.

So what did we do? We took the night off. We got some snacks. (And guess what? They weren't all "healthy" snacks. Your girls both still have a sweet tooth.) We giggled. We talked about dumb stuff that doesn't matter. We had a few mini emotional life chats. We sang in the car. 

Most importantly, we both realized that the world survived without us being "on" for a night. No we weren't still,l but for once, we replaced adrenaline & running with silliness & dancing. 

And it was wonderful. 

Last night reminded both of us that our constant buzzing around might be something we are used to, but that doesn't mean it's healthy for us. We're also realizing that saying yes to all this busy business means saying no to things & people who deserve our yes. 

Guess what we did today? Katie slept in & I started my day with a bubble bath. And it was glorious. I am thankful for this sister of mine & the fact that we love each other enough to remind each other to love ourselves. 

Enjoy your snow day, babes :) we're definitely not complaining about having another excuse for a play day. 

We love you guys. We'll be here from 8am-3pm tomorrow. We'd love to share a meal with you.

- Kate

PS: a little note on that cookbook - Katie & I regret to admit we are not yet able to replicate ourselves for multi-tasking so we will be buzzing down to Destin from February 1-4 to give this exciting project some TLC. Don't worry, our girls will still be whipping up magic at the cafe, so feel free to come on by while we are away. 

Kathleen A Dearman