Tri to be different
My brother, a center on his college football team and probably where he heard it first, asks this question of his own kids when they come limping off the field or into the house. It's a good question. In football, if you are injured you cannot go back in the game; but if you are just hurt then you can pull it together and get back out there. An honest answer is very important. RG3 was probably asked this question and we saw the consequences play out on the field.
As a triathlete I have to ask myself this question and I have to answer it honestly. If I brush off pain without asking, then I could do quite a bit of damage - enough to risk running or biking or swimming again. If I push through something just because I signed up for a race and feel obligated to complete it - it might be the last race I do. Having said that, if I take every twinge too seriously - I might never run again. Sometimes it's hard to know the difference.
Yesterday I went to the pool for a recovery swim. I did my sets and at the end I alternated breast stroke with 3 sets of pull-outs in the deep end. I finished in the shallow end and prepared to exit the pool. I pulled myself up out of the pool and my left arm went out from underneath me. In a split second I rolled my left hand and slipped back into the pool, pain shooting up my arm. After recovering my balance in the pool and staring at my hand for a minute or two, I pulled my ring off as a precaution. It hurt. I got out of the pool (gingerly this time) and changed into my running clothes. I went for my run - 30 min. nice and easy. My hand was still bothering me.
I went by the urgent care on my way home. After an hour and a half exposed to flu patients and no definite time when I might see the doctor, I reasoned that maybe it wasn't that bad and I left - maybe I didn't want to know. I went on with my day. By 6 last night I had to see a doctor because of the pain and swelling.
Was I hurt or was I injured? As I waited in the urgent care (again) I went over the various scenarios - if it was broken, what would that mean for my season? If I knew about it, then I'd have to do something about it. But if I just ignored it, maybe it would just go away. The best thing, I decided, was just to get it checked out and go from there. And that is the best answer to that question when you just aren't sure.
After x-rays I am happy to report that it's just sprained. So for now, I'm just hurt. The doc put a splint on it and said "be careful on the bike." I'll be out there running the half on Sunday because I'm just hurt, not injured.