Source: Digging into the Pain Cave – the psychology of suffering, Part 2 | Ella

Found this series of articles on Ella, Australian cycling website devoted to the more graceful gender. I wanted to comment directly, but their authentication system is too cumbersome (Disqus AND email verification? Next they’re going to send me a differential equation displayed in CAPTCHA). Instead, I’ll just add my thoughts here!

If one could be blue balled intellectually, that’s what happened to me reading this article. It claims to tell us how pain affects our performance and how we can overcome it or use it to our advantage in training and racing, but I felt like it just stopped before actually really going anywhere. Like, how does doing one more interval when already in pain make pain my friend? That doesn’t sound like it will accomplish anything.

I think there are people who can love the pain, really revel in it, and there are people for whom the hurt is an obstacle between them and success. People who don’t like the pain, well, you can’t teach them to like it. I think that’s just how people are set up. Take a holistic view. In order to reach the peaks of your potential, you have to push past your comfort zone. The more you push past in any given session, the more it hurts. Some people want to improve without it hurting. That just means their pace will be limited and their ultimate potential will never be reached. That’s just how our bodies are built.

On the other hand, I think those of us who can really dive in, swallow the pain and diffuse it throughout our bodies (yes, I’m using “our” because I am one of these), this ability is not something that we learned somewhere. It comes from within us. Those of us that dig deep, we are feeding from a well of hunger to go harder, faster, bigger, longer, farther than we have ever gone before. In a way, we are driven by something far greater and far more osoroshii (terrific?) than any amount of pain a single ride could deliver us.

I think, in many ways, that’s the difference between the top athletes and the middle of the pack. If there were a secret to going from one category to the other, we’d all be at the top, but that just isn’t how it works.