We suffer because we do not suffer enough. Ya, not a typo. I read a great book on how we often suffer more, and longer because we are too afraid to really hurt. It made me think on a level that I admit is not always easy to appreciate. The outcome of working through this concept is worth it however, especially if I can apply it to coaching/training.
Its like this. Take a child who gets a deep sliver. You have 2 options. A) leave it in B) get it out. Option A is less painful to the child right now, because as long as they don’t use that finger, the sliver is not agitating anything and can not be felt.
But tomorrow it will be swollen and in a few days it will be pussy and infected. Eventually a doctor will have to remove it, or if left in still, it can cause so much damage that the finger may need amputation in extreme cases. The longer it is left, the more pain overall and the higher overall cost of getting it out.
Option B is going to cause the child some discomfort and pain up front.. pulling it out with tweezers is not fun or painless, but the sliver wound can start to heal after the sliver is out. Shortly after it is removed it is forgotten about and the body can heal itself and carry on with important things like playing and exploring.
As my first track coach would say, “Pain is beautiful. It means the body is alive and speaking”. Ask someone who has no feeling in their body (the condition is called congenital insensitivity to pain) and they will tell you it is the greatest curse on planet Earth. These people are dangers to themselves as they do not know if what they pick up or touch is too hot and is burning them, if what they are standing on is sharp and cutting into them, if some body part is being restricted or squished, etc. Pain is the body’s way of letting you know whats going on and when to get out of danger.
That being said, there is good pain and bad pain. As an athlete, I have been confronted by both. Knowing the difference is important. Years ago I fractured my femur and kept training and racing on it. That pain was the bad kind but I did not know the difference, and wanted to tough it out and push through. Typical young and dumb athlete. It cost me a year of my university eligibility to learn the lesson of what the difference between good and bad pain was. Nowadays I try to listen to my body when it is giving me feedback on a workout or even just in general. I also can now appreciate to a higher degree what the difference between good and bad pain looks like as I coach others. I watch intently as any of my athletes or clients do their workouts to ensure that the inevitable pain they will experience is that of the good variety.
It seems logical to try to avoid the bad pain, but going after good pain can reap great rewards. Good pain is the kind that says “wow, you worked HARD and I’m exhausted. It ‘hurts’ (in a sore, not injured kind of way) but I just need some recovery”. That is the kind of pain you want in a hard workout. It is also the kind of pain that is the ‘lets get the sliver out earlier rather than later’. This good pain leads to overall quality of life, like bending over to tie your own shoes with ease, lift groceries out of a shopping cart comfortably, or being able to carry on a conversation going up a flight of stairs. A little regular soreness from regular workouts beats a heart attack from a ‘comfy’ sedentary lifestyle any day.
Here is to good pain!