Playing with Pain

Today's post is dedicated to the Rewired Life Blog Tour, where 17 self-development leaders are exploring and digging deeper into the concepts of loving yourself, healing your body and mind, and celebrating life. Check out more info here. 

My post in this blog tour comes at the end of the tour, on the second to last day. Some fantastic stories, displays of vulnerability, and deep deep wisdom have been shared thus far from women and men in wildly different walks of life. I get to throw my little piece into the mix today...excite!

As a triathlon coach, and a 15 time Ironman finisher myself, I have been witness to alarming amounts of self inflicted pain and suffering over the years. My main job as a coach is to teach age-group athletes who have careers, and families, and responsibilities how to endure suffering and discomfort "like a pro" in the name of athletic excellence. 

It's a really interesting job, people deal with pain in such different manners dependent upon their past experiences with it. Some see it as a challenge to overcome, some as an emotion to control or to ignore. Some seek and embrace it, and others melt and get scared in it's presence. My job as a coach is to understand the athletes response and to give them tools to navigate the ins and outs of their responses. 

I can usually put athletes into one of three PAIN categories.

Ignorers - these are the "nope, I'm fine" or "what part of my body feels good" athletes. When faced with pain, they look to what isn't in pain, they look for perspective on the pain. These are the ones who are running the last 5 miles in an Ironman and their feet are a blistered mess and their body is chaffed and sunburned and they are telling themselves that their pinky and their elbow feels fantastic. 

Fighters - these are the "embrace the suck" and "no pain no gain" types. They look at the pain as the adversary that they are going to battle with, a necessary opponent. Without the pain, there would be nothing to fight against. These athletes can be found with 5 miles to go in an Ironman with a grimace on their face, and tears in their eyes.   

Avoiders - these are the "I made a friend out there on the race course today" athletes who look pain in the eye and say "life is too short" and "this should be fun." Often times these athletes don't want their hobby to involve extreme suffering and when it starts to show it's ugly head, they immediately seek comfort. With 5 miles to go in an Ironman, these athletes are in pairs of two or three chatting it up with a smile on their face.

What's interesting as a coach, is that all three types can be found in the front, middle, and back of the race pack. Results don't seem to depend as much on the type of pain response. The key difference is acceptance and curiosity. Those athletes who embrace the ways and methods that they handle pain and seek to become their best self inside of those patterns usually thrive. An acceptance of their response and an almost pride in how they handle pain, can take an athlete far. Questioning, second guessing, looking at others and thinking they need to change....those athletes tend to not realize their athletic potential. 

The athletes who are curious about pain and what it does to them, and are able to put judgement aside tend to handle and process of discomfort so much better. Even the fighters who embrace their pain and treat it like a foe tend to also be most happy when they are in the deep dance of the moment. Often those athletes are asking the deep why questions. They are connecting the dots between life and sport all in an effort to learn more about how they tick. 

Next time you are in pain, I implore you to pat yourself on the back for however you are responding, and then get curious. Seek to understand and gain insight. Good Luck! 

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More Blog Tour Action:

Yesterday, Dan Mason checked in at the Creative Soul Coaching

Tomorrow, check out the awesome Rachelle Reichley - YAY! Life!

To download a FREE chapter from Audreys Book Rewired Life, click here