Friday, February 11, 2011

Pain in your Brain?

New Scientist Magazine recently published an article "Pain be gone" by Clare Wilson (22 Jan 2011, No 2796, pg 34-37) which noted research that while scientists would like to find a pain (P1) area of the brain as there is a vision area, auditory area, etc., it is more likely that pain is a product of many parts. As an endurance athlete and the mother of three children, each born via natural, drug-free childbirth, this notion resounds with me. To me, pain is often actually fear. The amygdala is the part of the brain associated with emotions including fear which is undoubtably a huge factor. I would go further in also including the pre-frontal cortex known for controlling cognitive thought.

I've always found that when the cause of the pain is known and you know that no further damage is being done, the pain is much more bearable. When the pain has a known endpoint such as the birth of the child or the end of the race, I would actually expect that the pain would be rated as less painful (i.e. a "5" rather than a "7" on a scale from 0 to 10).

Whether my thinking applies as well to chronic pain as to acute pain is debatable. What does pain have to do with "training with your jogging stroller"? Do you need to ask? Burning quads never seem to hurt as much as a pulled muscle. I would venture to say that is because you 1. know what is causing the pain and 2. know that it is not causing further damage. The burning in your lungs you may feel when you are breathing hard is not painful or stressful as compared to an asthma attack.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Groundhog's Day

I'm tired. I'm tired of the cold weather. I'm tired of it taking 15 minutes to get all of our clothes on to go outside. I'm tired of my hands being so cold that it feels like my fingernails are going to fall off whenever I run in fewer than TWO pairs of gloves. I'm tired of the kids being home for fear-of-snow days. I'm tired of fighting with kids about getting dressed in the morning (like it is a surprise EVERY day that you have to put clothes on?!?!) I'm tired of climbing over piles of gross dirty snow at every intersection. I'm tired of drivers looking at me like I am a negligent parent because I am running on the street in bright daylight, facing traffic on a road that is at least three lanes wide. I'm tired of stepping in dog poop because it seems that dog owners only feel like picking it up when it is comfortably warm and convenient for them to do so. I'm tired of searching for the matching mitten. I'm tired of waking up at 4:30 am to go to the gym when I don't want to brave frigid temps outside. I'm tired of snow getting packed into the treads of my running shoes. It feels like I'm running in high heels. You can pretty easily conclude I don't like high heel shoes either. I'm tired of my jogging stroller refusing to roll in a straight line. I'm tired of wet snow gear sprawled across the entry way, kitchen, and dining room. I'm tired of the older kids - stuck at home for another snow day - teaching the 2 year-old curse words. I'm tired of drivers looking at me like I am a negligent parent because I've taken my children outside at all.

And I'm going to do it all again tomorrow.