Pain is synonymous with sport. Endurance athletes relish the challenge of ‘pushing through pain’. As Greg Lemond famously said: “Cycling never gets any easier, you just go faster”
Some athletes actually perform better when in pain
Research from the University of Toronto Canada reveals that pain doesn’t affect the performance of all athletes equally. Some actually perform better when in pain, according to Karen D. Davis, PhD.
Dr. Davis classifies athletes in pain as either A-type or P-type. The A-types can focus their attention on making their sports goal: running the race, beating the competition, etc. Their intent is so strong that they do well in their sport despite the pain—and sometimes even perform better than when not in pain.
P-types, however, focus intently on the pain and do not usually perform well, as their attention is diverted. We don’t know if it’s possible to change a P-type into an A-type.
If you are an A type, you have an inbuilt advantage over P types, but for everyone else (including me) it can help to see the positive benefit of pain in meeting your goals.
Here are some positives you can take from the most common types of pain
These have worked for me:
Pain from Lactic acid build up: Good, You’re pushing hard and your liver can convert this lactate into glucose to give you even more energy.
Pain from (fear of) losing: Good, this pain lasts forever whereas muscle pain in temporary. You need to go faster and win!
Pain from Cold and Rain or Snow: Good, you’re training while others find reasons not to!
Pain from pushing a high gear: Good, you’re resistance training your muscles which will grow stronger.
DOMS Pain (Delayed onset muscle soreness): Good, DOMS post workout means that you were pushing hard, you’ve been challenging your muscles with more resistance than they’re used to handling and they will grow stronger.
Pain from a restricted diet: Good, this means your body is burning fat which will increase your lean body mass percentage!
Pain from Injury: Good, the pain is telling you have a problem and you could cause permanent damage. Take expert medical advice before riding through this pain.
Pain from Bad Bike fit or Poor technique: Good, don’t ignore or ride through this or you risk permanent damage. Get your bike fit sorted and you’ll go faster! Take expert medical advice before riding through this pain.
Pain can be good but not all pain should be ignored
You need to remember that some types of pain and warning signals to STOP damaging your body and you mustn’t ignore these.
Others are signals that you are making progress and should inspire you to achieve even more success.