Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pain, Pain Go Away

I started investigating the impact of mindset on running earlier this year, kind of by accident as we had to read Mindset for work. And, because I am more tuned into it, it seems that "the mental side of running" is all the rage lately.  Lucky me! To date, I have focused generically on "mental focus" - creating mantras, thinking positive thoughts.  I have read about the power of habit (another work book!) and therefore started practicing mantras while not racing.  I have found that these have been helpful but still not exactly right.

Then I read Mark Remy's August 2016 column in Runner's World and CLICK!  I had it.  My issue.  Pain. Suffering. Hurt. Discomfort.  I don't like it.   I can so clearly remember a conversation back in high school before a big cross country meet where one of my teammates said, "I just don't want it to hurt" and emphatically agreeing with her.  Indeed, if I reflect back on my race history - when they started to hurt, I lost it, most of the time.  I think my marathon especially suffers from this.  I mean a 5K is so quick and while it hurts, I can easily talk myself out of the pain knowing it isn't going to last too much longer.  During a marathon? I am not successful.  Out of 7 attempts at that distance, I only have 2 that I don't remember bonking at:
1) The 2006 Chicago marathon, which was my second marathon and where I dropped 38 minutes and 16 seconds off my time from my first attempt to qualify for Boston in 3:30:20.

2) The first time I ran Boston, in 2007, where I didn't care what my time was and ran entirely by feel, and had an enjoyable time (and finished in 3:33:28, which was almost exactly 3 minutes slower than my qualifying time.)

Pain Face during Race for the Bacon

Every other marathon, I distinctly remember the point at which I backed off because it hurt.  Um, how can I be in love with distance running and be unable to deal with pain?!  Easy.  Generally, I have found minor success at running good enough.  My breakthrough moments in running have come when for whatever reason I could push past the pain.  If I can learn to deal with some pain, I can easily get my 3:15 marathon goal.  I know it.  I had an amazing training cycle preparing for Boston 2016 - including a number of long runs where everything clicked and they were amazing.  I also had a number of long runs where they didn't feel right/I wasn't comfortable and I remember dwelling on that the entire run.  

Now that I am aware of this, I can more effectively work on making this common practice, right?  So say the sports psychologists anyways.

Here are some of my favorite recent readings on dealing with pain:

"There is a big difference between pain and discomfort - work on understanding why you are backing down." 

From the aforementioned Remy's World:
"Suffering is a constant.  It'll be there no matter what. Do your speed workout and you will suffer.  Put it off for weeks or months (or years) and you'll suffer.  run today and you may suffer, at least a little bit. Skip it and you'll suffer for that too.  Go get it done. you might as well choose the kind of suffering that makes you faster."

Jason Karp, via @heather_runs74 on Instagram:
"There will always be that voice inside of us that says, 'This is too hard', or 'This hurts' or 'I want to stop'. We can either let that voice get the best of us, or we can work at mastering ourselves and our emotions."

If you have any other quotes/links/etc, share them. :)

Pain Face during Acuity Health Race

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I like the quote about pain vs. discomfort. What we think is pain at the end of races is often discomfort. I think the key is to EXPECT that a race will hurt. And when it does, have a plan for dealing with it mentally.