Tuesday, January 14, 2014

control of pain

one of our coaches likes to bring in tidbits of information about cycling, exercise, and nutrition.
he also likes to tell stories about his adventures, and we've heard all sorts of things from his riding a bike home---with numerous painkillers on board---from an emergency room visit, to assorted different crashes, to his bonking and occasional vomiting during cycling events.
he's got a great, self-deprecating sense of humor.
but last week he told us about an article he'd recently read that stated those of us who like high-intensity workouts like them because they provide for us a pain that we can control.

we humans experience a lot of pain in our lives.  physical pain, emotional pain.  although some of it may be in our control, most of it isn't.  a loved one dies, someone jumps and lands on our foot.  we slip and fall.  we break a bone, we break a heart.  we disappoint someone, we let our own self down.  we stub our toe or sprain an ankle.  pain happens.  and although we often have some warning, we often don't, and we have very little control over it all.

enter the hardass workout.
the workout where you can control just how much pain you suffer and for how long.

I'm not sure about the science behind this concept.  I'm not sure that we like our hardass workouts because they are situations where we can control our pain.

what I find more important through this process is that I learn that I can tolerate/manage/endure amounts of pain that I might not have thought possible.

I don't think I'm enduring the pain simply because it's under my control;  I think I'm enduring it to prove to myself that I'm stronger than I think.

because this is the gift I've received over the years.
this morning's workout was a tough one---named the "l'alpe d'huez climb" by our program's creator---and after it ended the coach came around, asking each person how it went.  my response was,
I just do what I'm asked to do.

and this is what I've learned through my years of cycling training:  I can do whatever I'm asked to do.
pain, tolerance, tedium, endurance, fatigue, everything, it's all manageable.
for me, it's not about controlling it, it's about learning that I can endure it.

but the greatest truth is probably best stated by arthur golden:

I don't think any of us can speak frankly about pain until we are no longer enduring it.

No comments: