Coping with Pain While Racing or Training

 Serious athletes are well acquainted with pain. For most, the pain is self-inflicted and therefore very controllable: all you have to do is slow down. For those who don’t want to hold back, the only way forward is to “embrace the suck”, so to speak, and to become a connoisseur of discomfort. Most athletes who want to be good realize at some point that there are various kinds of pain: sharp, dull, burning, etc. and that it can come from your muscles, your lungs or can actually rotate around to different parts of your body. The best way of dealing with pain is to actually dive INTO it. Seriously. Study it objectively: notice where it’s coming from, breathe around it, and relax into it. Reframing what the pain means is also important. Speed doesn’t feel good after the first 15-30 seconds. And, that “feeling” is what speed feels like. Getting stronger often means enduring pain longer. All of that said, the pain of going fast or working hard is one thing. Injury pain from torn muscles, tendonitis or a stress fracture is an entirely DIFFERENT sort of pain (the kind that doesn’t stop when the workout ends) that should not be ignored or worked through. The bottom line: the more discomfort you are willing to “study” during training, the better you will be at handling it when it matters (race day).