Pushing Through

There’s an interesting conundrum that humans face: whether to persevere through a situation or quit. On the surface, we are told to always persevere. To stick with things. To finish, no matter how hard. This creates good habits. This leads to lasting happiness and great rewards.
I agree with this mentality, kind of. As with most things in life you can add an “it depends” clause. I’ve watched friends push through at a job month after month waiting for the payout, only to have it never happen. I’ve watched loved ones throw energy into a relationship, only to have it fade with time. My most glaring example came from the first time I trained for a marathon.
I was living in Chicago ten years ago. I followed all the prescribed methods for success in running your first race. I stuck to a schedule. I went to a speciality running store for fitted shoes. I had friends to cheer me on. I quit drinking, ate right, and slept a lot. By the time the race day arrived I was horribly injured. When my ankle and then my knee started hurting people told me to run through the pain. Some said train less, others run more.
I did serious damage to my leg by pushing through. It turned out two things were wrong with my training and both provide lessons to learn from.
When I went to the speciality running store they misdiagnosed that I pronated. I was prescribed shoes that would fix this issue. Unfortunately, I don’t pronate. These shoes created a lot of extra pressure on my ankles which led to pain over time. And as long as I continued to run in them they would continue to put that pressure on. When you’re going to be spending hours and days in an activity its always worth getting a second opinion!
The second lesson came to me years after the race. After hurting myself snowboarding I went to rehab. At the end of my rehab I told the trainer I wanted to run again. I had tried to run a few more times with minimal success – my longest race had been a painful half marathon. She recommended a running specialist who worked near Boulder, CO. I met the specialist and she proceeded to video tape me running on her iPad. Three minutes later, I took off my shoes and sat down with her in her office. “Well,” she said, “close your eyes and just listen.”
I closed my eyes and listened. The sound I made with every step was like a thunderclap. She could tell I was landing too heavy. She explained this would always lead to injury over time regardless of shoes or training regimen. We worked together for a couple of months and since then I’ve been able to run injury free for the last 4 years.
The takeaway here is that some times you need to adjust your approach. Maybe your goal is a reasonable one, but your methods for achieving it need work. Finding an expert or a trusted advisor to give you honest feedback is better than pounding out miles. There’s no perfect process for anyone, and hard work is important. Rather than brute forcing through difficult times, I encourage you to re-examine your tools and process.