Pain is Good! No, Really!


“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” – Haruki Murakami, ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’

Running alone, it's you, the road, and your thoughts. Are they good companions?

Running alone, it’s you, the road, and your thoughts. Are they good companions?

Today, I decided to share with you one of my favorite (and most useful) quotes of all time. This is a great mental tool to keep in your head to pull out when you are in the middle of a grueling training session! Pain is going to happen, so when it does, what will your reaction be? Complaining? Suffering? Quitting? I hope not…read on!

Obviously, pain and suffering are two seperate ideas. Actually, maybe its not so obvious. One is more physical and the other more mental/emotional. Too often though the phrase “pain and suffering” is used in everyday conversations and in  multiple contexts, leading most people to view it as one whole and overwhelming concept. However, if we maintain the clarity of mind to seperate the two into their individual elements we will find them much easier to deal with and even use to our advantage. In fact, we do not even need to suffer at all!

In my mind, physical pain is the manifestion of discomfort in the body due to some outside stimulus (We’ll focus on the pain/discomfort from our training). If you push yourself beyond a certain threshold you are certain to experience this. It is going to happen whether you want it to or not; theres no way to control it. What you can control however is how you react to it. This leads me to the latter of the two ideas: suffering.

Suffering is a state of mind that we create in response to some negative/painful event or stimulus. It is our perception of this event and as such, something completely seperate from it. Quite unlike pain, suffering is something that we create ourselves, and it follows, something we have control over. We choose whether or not to suffer, to let the pain get the better of us, overwhelm us, and ultimately prevent us from achieving our goals. Therefore, suffering is unaccpetable. It serves no purpose and needs to be avoided. Easier said than done it many cases, but we must strengthen our minds as well as our bodies! We have the opportunity to do this every time we begin a training session, by not allowing ourselves to fall into the trap of suffering.

There is always a place and time for pain, there is never for suffering. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to train until you’re injured. There is a distinct difference between the pain of exertion and the pain of injury. You need to have the ability to distnguish between them to identify and respect that difference. If you are injured, or are about to be, you need to stop, period. However, if you are experiencing pain from exertion its a good thing. Its an indicator that you are reaching the limits of your body are are pushing past them. Place your body in this cycle of exertion to recovery to adaptation in order to come back just that small fraction stronger eveytime. Progress.

In other words, use the pain. Suffering doesn’t exist.




Warm-up: .5M jog, dynamic warm-up including lunges, karaoke, backwards run, world’s greatest, and inch worms.

Running: Ran approximately 3.5M of hilly trail at 90%, time was about 32:00.




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