Pain Cave Psychology and the Payoff

Yep, painful run yesterday. More mental pain than any “real” physical pain. Of course, it got me to thinking. Marathon PR done and you’re feeling all kinds of confident, swaggering around like, “Pfft…8 mile run on the schedule at 50 miler pace?  Easy peasy!” Haaaaaaaa!!!! 

That’s the thing with running, you just never know when a run is gonna knock you on your ass. Doesn’t matter if you’re a speedy BQ’er, an ultrarunner, or some other type of endurance freak…you run enough and a crap run will come your way.   

Today, I was just asking for it. Functioning on barely 4 hours of sleep, training clients early am, and forgetting to take my shake with me so was super starving…just not good preparation for optimal training. 

So I’m plodding along in warmer than usual weather with not enough hydration and feeling a fatigue that I would expect to experience during miles 30+, not 3 miles?!!  Granted, I wore my Altra trail shoes which are way heavier and stiffer than my Altra road shoes but still…  

Then it dawned on me that the reason I was much more miserable than I should’ve been was simply because I was expecting this run to be “easy”.  I wasn’t expecting to be experiencing any discomfort. So as soon as I did experience just a teeny bit of “pain”, it triggered all the negative mind chatter.  You know, the voice that’s like, “WTF girl, why are you doing this? Turn around, walk home, eat some ice cream and take a damn nap!” 

My expectation of an easy run had not been met and simply, I was disappointed! I then began to consider that most of us function this way. We expect our training, our relationships, our careers to be comfortable. We want our lives to be stress-free and most of us long for leisure and shenanigans. 

But you know what, running is hard! It’s uncomfortable. Relationships are hard too!  Even the closest of soulmates have breakdowns in communication. Building a  career and leaving a legacy is hard! Essentially, there is nothing wrong with that. The conflict arises only when we expect differently. 

So invite yourself to enter the proverbial pain cave. Expect to work hard. Expect it to be uncomfortable. I mean it can’t be as bad as being on these old trainers!!! LOL 

Realize though that when the perspective shifts to giving, much of those expectations fall to the wayside and life transforms into abundance. Running for me is giving to myself and an opportunity to give it all I have! It’s a time for me to reflect and recharge mentally while making my body stronger. 

It’s a curious dance of allowing useful stressors to encourage growth. The fact of the matter is that without “pain”, without effort, without stress, there can be no adaptation, no growth….whether we’re talking about our glutes, our power endurance, or our mental toughness. 

Zenfulness moment: Embrace whichever pain cave you choose. Be one with it and you will surely reap the rewards! 


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