Do You Like Pain?
I don’t consider myself a masochist, but then again, I have been training (hard) for endurance sports for over 25 years. Endurance sports demand you to establish a certain comfort with pain in a way that not all sports demand. To reach the top of the sport, you must embrace this pain at a level reached by few. With that said, there are many middle-of-the-pack athletes who can embrace pain at the same level as the best. Pain connects us as endurance athletes – from the first finisher to the last – as we all experience it and learn to push through.
Is it really pain though? For me, it does not feel like pain in the traditional sense. Instead, it feels like being alive. The pounding of my heart, the gasping of my lungs, the tightness in my muscles: it all is a very rewarding experience for me, especially when it lingers after the workout. It doesn’t feel the same as acute injuries. The difference is that there are so many great physiological and psychological responses intertwined with the pain that the positive response outweighs the negative, in most cases.
Regardless of what we call it, we must embrace it. We must seek out pain in our training and racing – learn to value it, look forward to it, and embrace it. The ability to do this depends on your ability to frame it positively in your mind and not see it as pain but rather living.