The Race In The Pain

The Race In The Pain

Racing Insights

It’s not the pain in the race. It’s the race in the pain.

We seem to think our performance level is governed by our capacity to deal with the pain we are experiencing under load. What we don’t seem to consider is the opposite. The load that we are able to sustain while we are in pain.

This idea that they are mutually exclusive is just that, it’s a separatist idea. We spend so much time focusing on the pain that we leave the load to flounder in its wake, and that is what draws the energy and power away from our performance. The correction is to accept the suck! Kinda like life right, resist it and suffer, accept it and grow.

There’s a letting go there that has to happen, it’s uncomfortable but valuable.Accept the pain and let it be there while you focus on the performance and you will soon realise that it’s not about the pain level, it’s about your ability to maintain your presence and focus while you are in pain.

Athletes want to train hard to reduce their level of pain. It’s flawed logic. You want to train hard to enhance your ability to sustain more pain, not less. When someone trains harder and races better, it’s not because they experienced less pain, it’s because they trained themselves to absorb more.

That is a physical and psychological amalgam of pain management that is one, not two. Athletes will look at a course profile and assess the level of pain they are going to experience, sometimes going into a full freak out.

So it’s not the pain in the race that you need to focus on. It’s your race in the pain that you are invariably going to either deal with, or capitulate to. It’s not the pain you have to face, it’s the race that you are willing to bring into the pain.

It’s a simple matter of reframing the pain, the race, and accepting the challenge to stay fully present with both of them at the same time, up until you realise that there is no separation between you, the pain, and the race.

That way, you become the race itself. The pain becomes the tuning fork. The assessment of pain moves into the background where it belongs, and you are free to give it what you’ve really got, rather than trying to give it what you think you’ve got once you’ve managed the pain that is arising from the very same place the race is arising, within you.

When you speak against your ability to handle pain in certain conditions, let’s take hills for example. You become an enabler.

Unconsciously enabling yourself to capitulate on hilly courses and focus primarily on the pain. When pain is the primary focus, married with the lesson you taught yourself about not being able to handle the pain on hilly courses, where is your race?

Venciendo la fatiga durante el sector de carrera a pie de un triatlón celebrado Rincón de la Victoria. (Málaga)
Photo by Quino Al / Unsplash

We talk a lot about the race going up the road, but where’s it really going?

Up the road or up in your head? So our little practise for today is this-

* Allow the performance to come into the pain.

* Don’t speak against the pain in the race.

* Don’t speak against your ability to handle the pain on the course.

* Don’t create mental boundaries and fences that hem in your ability to stay         present in pain.

* It’s never the course, it’s your mental perception of it.

* Your race focus is bound by your acceptance of it, your lack thereof is a product of your resistance to it.

These are all very simple choices.

Observe closely the choices you make and you will very quickly become a better athlete and also a better human.