The second time, I was strength training. I’d warmed up and I was half-way through a set of front squats. Ding ding ding. Something pulls in my lower back and the pain begins to radiate outwards. I feel my body reacting and I ignore its counsel, continuing the session for the day and leaving the gym after I’m done.
The difference between the two was the realisation that pain is just an authority. In the first scenario I obeyed it unthinkingly, curtailing all efforts to bypass or overcome it. I was like the God-fearing follower who lives by the edicts of his chosen bible, instead of the feedback from his own mind and intuition. In the second scenario, ignoring the pain allowed me to complete a training session without causing any more damage than was already present. Sure, I’d still collected an injury, but I also managed to accrue a training stimulus.
In the short gap between the two sessions I’d realised that only sometimes does it pay to obey the directives of pain. Other times, there’s more utility in deliberate ignorance.