Dave and I have competed in many Ironman competitions. It’s a common practice from friends and family to post signs of support along the bike and run route. We agree the most humorous message we ever saw was posted about half-way along the 180-km bike course on one Ironman race. Amid all the motivational and heartfelt messages was a small sign that read “Eric, you look like crap.” It made both of us chuckle that day, even while we were dealing with the discomfort. So how do you prepare yourself to get through the tough times and come through stronger in the end?
It is well known among athletes that experiencing discomfort is part of athletic activities and is often part of a successful training program. To build muscle and increase strength, the muscle must be stressed beyond what it is used to experiencing. This discomfort is what is considered good pain and is the basis of the popular phrase, “no pain, no gain.” Typically, this exertion pain is short-lived and resolves soon after the activity ends.
But many people pull back during their workout when they begin to feel discomfort, confusing it with pain or even injury.
So how do tell the difference and how do you push through the barrier to see improvements in performance without causing injury. Too much stress and the body falls apart. Which brings us back to the question, in seeking discomfort to improve how do we push ourselves to the line without incurring injury? An article by Sarah Bowen Shea shares tips from top athletes on dealing with discomfort and pushing through exertion pain to improve performance…something we can use to help us improve our performance.
Remember, discomfort during a strenuous quality workout is a good sign that the exercise is pushing the limits of your body’s physiology. The discomfort and fatigue should leave you somewhat exhilarated but not overly exhausted. When it lasts more than a few days or is chronic it means your physiology has been excessively challenged, and this means that the muscles and the energy stores are not being effectively replenished and suggests that the individual may be overtraining. But we will save that to discuss another time.
Note: if the fatigue continues after appropriate rest, it may be a sign of other medical problems and you should consult your doctor.
Eric, I hope you did well!