Learning How To Suffer - Steph Colburn
How many times have we heard “Pain is temporary, pride is forever?” I know for me over the years of training and/or racing, I never truly understood the meaning of that statement.
So often when we are training we let our mind detach from our body and become unaware of how or what our body is saying to us, or for that matter what it really needs. The little voice inside our head can be so strong that it starts to run the whole workout. We can find all kinds of excuses to stop or not push ourselves to better our performance.
How much or how little the amount of work you put into your training will show on race day. Learning to listen to your body will allow you to understand what it needs. Override the ego that talks so loudly and focus on your breathing, heart rate or cadence, whether that is biking, running, or other sports.
Let’s talk about breath for a moment. I have asthma which can be triggered by sports, cold or allergies. I also have a form of anemia which causes me to have low white and red blood cells. We all know how important those red bloods cells are for oxygen. So with these two physical issues you can only imagine what challenges can occur on a daily basis. I have varying degrees of difficulty breathing from day to day. This breathing issue has really taught me a lot about suffering. So in many ways I guess it is a blessing that it has taught me many things. By listening to my body I have learned that even though I may feel like stopping (ego talking), I can push myself to a point where I know I will recover (mind body connection) and get my breath back. It is not a comforting feeling to not be able to breathe fully with each breath. It can be frustrating at times when my body is feeling really good and my breathing is making my training more of a challenge. I have learned through these physical challenges that my breath does come back. My perception of my breath not returning, most times is my ego talking. It is at these particular times I fire my ego for the day. It is more of a weight on me mentally than what I am actually physically doing at the time.
Each training session is designed to push your body to the next level of endurance. Each time that challenge presents itself there is a degree of discomfort we put our body through. That is when the ego starts talking and saying things to try and make you stop. After all why are we putting our bodies through this? I would much rather be laying on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing right now than this. But do we really have to stop because physically we are going to fall over? Or is it the ego trying to trick you into thinking you are incapable of accomplishing the goal you have set out to do? Of course, ego talking can also affect us in the opposite way by pushing through that discomfort to the point of injury. So listening to your body works in both ways, to better your performance or to prevent furthering an existing injury or even creating a new one.
Mind body connection is a practice everyone should be doing on a daily basis. We tend to rely on gadgets all the time to help us during times of training. We use heart rate monitors, cadence monitors, etc. Even though these are absolutely a must for training, try to go out on a run without the use of a heart rate monitor one day and see just how well you are tuned into your body. Monitor yourself without the aid of the device. Can you create the same pace and heart rate by just listening to your body? Can you slow your breathing to recover? Do you need nutrition, hydration?
Go gadget free and challenge yourself! After all what will you do on race day if your gadgets stop working?
USAT Certified Coach