Why I Don't Push Through The Pain - Erin's Inside Job

Why I Don’t Push Through The Pain

I have 4 weeks until the Chicago Spring Half Marathon and this weekend I ran my longest run in 2 weeks—3 miles.  I had developed shin splints from changing shoes, my body adapting to them, and pushing myself to run farther and faster during sprints in my high-intensity classes. I talked last week about what to do when you haven’t trained for a race and although there were times when I felt like a failure by not pushing myself to run a distance that I think is necessary for this point in my training, I knew that I needed to take a break.

I have issues with the “inspirational” images and quotes surrounding fitness. I do think that some are great and can motivate me to do my best, but others are worded in such a way that pushes my perfectionism, self-doubt, and shame buttons all at once.  Comparison rears its ugly head. Sometimes I am only competing against myself, but more often than not I am using a staged stock image to take myself to an unnecessary place of self-deprecation.  Take the following images for example:



Nope, sorry. For me, a stress fracture or whatever I did to my hip to prohibit me from running for an entire summer hurts more than knowing I did the best I could that day.



This message is just frightening to me. Maybe replace the word “hurting” with “burning,” but any exercise that is actually hurting you should be stopped immediately. I get their point, but the danger is all in the wording of these quotes.

I know what happens to me when I tell myself to ignore the pain. I get injured.  I have learned this enough times that I am wiser about listening to my body cues and understanding when I can push myself and when doing so would actually set me back.  That being said, not all of these motivational attempts are negative and the ones that trigger me may help someone else. It is really about who is reading them, what they have been through, and what their motivations are.

My 3 miles that I ran yesterday were just what I needed. My shins felt better, but I started to notice them more as I neared that 3 mile marker. I knew that rather than push myself I needed to stop at that point and responsibly take care of my body by resting and icing.  By NOT pushing through the pain, I will actually be more successful in running this half, but it took me a long time to learn that.

P.S. Good luck to everyone running Boston today!!

P.P.S. I signed up for my NASM exam and will be taking it on 5/29. Gulp.


  • What are your opinions about “motivational” quotes?
  • How do you push yourself in a healthy way?
  • What did you do this weekend? Let me live vicariously!

21 comments on “Why I Don’t Push Through The Pain

  1. YAY for signing up for the exam! As a fitness professional as well as a human being, I hate the No Pain No Gain slogan. It may be catchy, but it is stupid. Discomfort, yes. Pain? NO. PAIN means something is wrong. The only time I push through “pain” with regards to sports is during the last few miles of a marathon. And believe me, there is nothing natural about those last 6 miles!
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Caitlin’s Wedding and 40 Hours in South Side PittsburghMy Profile

    1. Uggh the test. It will be good when it’s done. Silly me scheduled it way out so I will still be whining about it for over a month 🙂

  2. I agree with you 100%. I can probably identify a few workouts I regretted — the ones where I pushed too hard and got injured! I have done surprisingly well under-training for races. It’s better than over-training and getting injured. But it is HARD to limit yourself when the messages are all about pushing further.
    Coco recently posted…My Harshest CriticMy Profile

    1. Exactly. I did keep pushing myself for awhile and I do try and push still to do my best, but when I read some of the quotes they are almost laughable to me. I try and do what MY best is and that tends to make me pretty satisfied 🙂

  3. Ahhh, yes… I know what you mean about those quotes and the danger of it is that a lot of people don’t know what “pain” is. Either they wimp out at the slightest discomfort, using it as a ticket to sloth around on the couch OR they ignore their body’s warning sign and end up with stress fractures, like you said. We really need to be in tune with our bodies. Super news about your shin splints, and yes… icing those babies really helps!!
    Suzy recently posted…Mileage Monday: Boston StyleMy Profile

  4. I agree with this very much, Erin. I think sometimes it’s okay to be uncomfortable to get stronger but NEVER if it’s painful. Pain is a setback and just should be avoided. On a slightly different note, but still along the same lines, I think one of the most awful “fitspo” things I’ve seen was something like, “YOU’RE NOT A DOG SO DON’T REWARD YOURSELF WITH FOOD” … wtf, really? We all need to eat and exercise intuitively and not listen to this borderline shaming system that “fitness inspiration” has started to look like. Great post and hope your pain gets better!
    Erin recently posted…Case Of The MondaysMy Profile

    1. Oh man I will eat all the food. I’m not going to push myself in a workout with the express goal of “allowing” myself to eat something unhealthy, but if I happen to crave something afterwards you’d better believe I am going to eat it!

  5. I agree! I always see those motivational slogans and i’m like “ummm…no”. This post is a great help for me today because I am trying to get over a neck injury. I have been pushing myself to continue to workout and I have not been giving it time to heal 100%. Yesterday when it started hurting again after a tough workout, I vowed to take this week to rest. I woke up this morning wanting to workout but after reading this today I’m sticking to my rest week! Thank you! Let me know how the NASM exam goes for you! I am thinking about taking it as well!
    Lindsey @Fit Life Pursuits recently posted…12 Healthy Living Bloggers: Where They ShopMy Profile

  6. I hate most fitness motiviational images and quotes because the majority seem to want to shame me into working out. Also, I agree, pain is not something that should be ignored. Burning muscles, yes, but actual pain???? No no no, stop what you are doing, RICE, and see a doctor or get a PT evaluation if it doesn’t go away. A good way to tell the difference between burning and legit pain is if it’s happening on both sides of the body, you’ll likely be fine, but if it’s just one side? Get that checked out!!
    Maggie recently posted…What’s in your TV queue?My Profile

    1. Good point! I am glad that I’ve learned how to listen to those cues and not keep going when I should stop!

  7. I’m so, so sorry you’re so hurt and that you’re struggling with the pain 🙁 I really hope you’re able to do the half marathon. If not, you know I’m down to take your spot. Just let me know. I’ve always wanted to try new shoes but stories like yours scare me into thinking I’m going to get injured so I just stick with my Asics. I’m with you on those “inspirational” posters. There’s a line, and so many of those cross it.

    How exciting that you have a date picked for NASM! You’re well on your way to crushing your goals!
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…Weekend happenings: always something new to work on, always something new to discoverMy Profile

    1. Thanks girl! I think as long as I take it easy I will adjust to these shoes. When’s your test date??? Don’t think I’ve forgotten

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