Hopefully the title piqued your curiosity! No, this is not about the pain when you have seriously injured yourself or over-trained, but the pain of hard, raw, daily training. This article intends to give you perspective on the pain of training and how to use it to your advantage on race day.
Pain. How one deals with pain is what can truly separate great athletes from average athletes. In fact, gripping the pain from hard work should be your goal during every hard training workout. Pain can either be seen as undesirable or satisfying, and if dealt with properly during training, can be reassuring when times become tough during your big race day.
Scenario 1: When you are in the midst of an intense training workout, your muscles are burning and you are mentally feeling weak, what do you do? I hope you said “Obviously you dig deep, push through it no matter what and finish strong.” As you do this, you begin to teach yourself to welcome the pain you are putting yourself through. Do this over and over again, each time tolerating your pain and pushing your limits no matter how tired you are.
Scenario 2: It’s race day. At some point during the race you begin to experience the same pain you put yourself through in training, BUT, you have been here before and pushed though it every time. That should give you the best reassurance! This is now race day… your adrenaline is pumping, you are motivated by the competition around you, so if you have pushed through this pain before, you unquestionably can do it again. Use what you have put yourself though in training to mentally encourage yourself in the midst of racing.
What I’ve learned is that if you always train slow, you will race slow. No athlete miraculously becomes fast without pushing their pain tolerance. Those that always train slow and expect to comfortably race fast are scared. People ask me “Scared of what?” … they’re scared of pain. No athlete gets to the top of their game by not embracing their pain. Instead, it is welcomed and a tough training day is seen as unsuccessful without having to tolerate pain.
Believe me, I definitely know the benefits of recovery days and even recovery weeks, but not every day can be easy. You know it has been a great training day when you come inside and want to lay on the floor for a while because your body is tired and burning. Learn to enjoy that as your prize, and eventually you will experience better race days from the mental toughness you have garnered throughout your training.
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