Sunday, December 21, 2008


the spin room at the jcc has a few new posters on its walls, and they all mention the word pain.
I find this interesting.
there's the lance armstrong quote:
"Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever."
well, I think this statement has come back to bite him in the butt: obviously his version of quitting does not last forever.
and then there's a quote from frank schleck:

"Pain is worth it. You have to go as hard as you can, for as long as you can."

obviously, these two elite professional athletes have endured a great deal of pain in their lives. both having to do with training and not, and also, both physical pain, and not.
we all get significant doses of pain administered to us throughout our lifetimes: that's just the way life seems to work.
but the self-chosen pain of physical activity is a fascinating thing to think about. what is it about us humans that drives us to push ourselves so far, so hard? there are endurance races out there where people run 100 miles on trails, and mountain bike rides that last 24 hours. we choose to push ourselves to exhaustion, and then beyond . . . why do we do this?
I can feel pain during an hour-long spin class. I can feel pain during a simple yoga class. I can even feel pain during a set of reps in the weight room.
I feel it, I bear it, I mentally steel myself to survive it, and then I come out the other side.
I endure.
and for some reason, I like this process.
I know it is making me stronger, and I am almost more interested in the mental strength than the physical strength. I view physical strength as a nice thing, pleasing to my self-image, part of my "growing old gracefully" plan. but the mental strength is the fulcrum upon which the rest of my life balances. if I can accept the difficulties, the challenges, the sorrow and pain, knowing that I can bear them, outlive them, survive them, then I have won. I have tested myself, pushed my boundaries past the level of resistance I thought I had, and I have proven my own potency.
today's pain came during a couple standing sprints, and then on a long hill climb, and again on some circuits. I push myself because I know I can do it. I accept the pain because I know each time I do, I become a more patient, tolerant, accepting person.
I'm not a sprinter, a racer, a fastest-to-the-top person.
I am deep and determined, and in it for the long haul.

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