Forget The Pain

Published in Personal / Running - 2 mins to read

In May I got a tattoo on my calf. It was painful - significantly more so than my arm had been - but fortunately it only took around 20 minutes. I remember thinking to myself at the time that I was incredibly grateful that it didn’t go on any longer, and that I wouldn’t have been able to bear the pain much longer.

Yesterday I got another tattoo on the same calf. This one took around four hours to complete, as it was much larger, and involved a lot of block colours. It hurt… a lot. It was the most painful of my now seven tattoos by some considerable margin, and for the last hour whenever the artist removed the needle from my skin to refill it with ink, I hoped it would be the last time. I took a book to read and it was a welcome distraction, because I knew if I thought about how much it hurt that would only make it worse, but several times I had to stop reading, close my eyes and take some deep breaths. The throbbing in my leg stopped me sleeping, but at the time I didn’t say anything, even though I could’ve asked for a break, or numbing cream. I read my book, kept quiet and accepted the pain, because that was what had to be done (I think the pain is important part of the appeal of getting tattoos for me, but that’s for another post) and that I aspire to larger tattoos, in more painful areas; in order to fulfill those aspirations, I was going to have to cope with this.

And today, the pain is already forgotten. I am back to planning something bigger, on my calf. Of course, to some degree the pain still lingers fresh in my memory as indeed there are still traces of it circulating through my leg, but now there is a new naïveté that has quickly set in; that I will be able to grit my teeth and survive the ordeal, on the basis that I survived the previous.

Incidentally, today I found a 100k mountain race that I’m going to enter the ballot for later in the month.