Pain doesn’t hurt.
“Push yourself until the pain comes and then go on, until you think you cannot survive. Here the ego will let go. Here you will be purified.” – Lillooet Vision Quest
“All the true wisdom is to be found far from the dwellings of man, in the great solitudes, and can only be attained through suffering. Suffering and privation are the only things that can open the mind of man to that which is hidden from his fellows.” – Igjugardik
“Pain is weakness leaving the body.” – anonymous
In 2009 I ran my first triathlon. It was an Olympic distance which is a 1.5 km swim, 40 km ride, and a 10 km run. What I got from it was not what I was looking for. It was better… deeper. It put the hook in me. It was painful. I had to push through not enjoying what I was doing in order to finish. It took me outside my comfort zone. I had to swim in open water that was freezing cold (57f) and over grown with massive kelp plants that were so thick in places you could stand on them.
What it didn’t do is drain me as badly as I thought it would have. I found out that I could have pushed myself harder, further and faster. Now my goal is Ironman. I want to hear my name followed by “…YOU are an IRONMAN!!!” I want the tattoo.
An Ironman triathlon is 140.6 miles long, consisting of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 marathon all done in under 17 hours. It is a test that goes beyond physical ability. Unless you train it properly, your body will shut down and cease to function for you. It is impossible to just go out and run a triathlon. You have to trick your body into believing you can do it. You have to trick your mind into thinking you can endure. At some point you will begin to feel real pain and you will hear your own mind saying “we can walk for just a little bit, it is OK…” This is the voice of mediocrity and the reason you are not better than you could be.
The things you do not think of, are what will stop you: muscle cramps brought on my dehydration, exhaustion, or not being athletic enough are the things most will say would stop someone. However I challenge you to face the uncomfortable truth that you quit pushing yourself before you should. Listening to that cancer will eat your soul and leave you haggerd and full of regret. Lance Armstrong’s mantra is “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.”
I point to people like Elizabeth Thompson who, in June of 2008, suffered a stroke so massive, she could not walk or talk. She finished Kona in October 2009. Rudy Garcia-Tolson’s legs are only a few inches long. He has no knees. He tried and failed to finish Kona, but just a few months later he crossed the finish line in Arizona to become an Ironman. Another person I have mentioned before is Sarah Reinertsen, who has only one leg. Both she and Rudy failed at their first attempts to finish an Ironman, but it did not stop their desire. In fact it fueled it to a stronger finish for both.
Dick and Rick Hoyt have been in 6 Ironman triathlons. If you have never heard of Team Hoyt, http://www.teamhoyt.com/index.html it will rip your heart out and force you to stand up and do something.
As a child my heroes were all imaginary characters from far off worlds with superhuman strength or abilities like Superman or the X-Men but as an adult I have come to see heroes in a different light: A hero is someone who gives you hope or motivation, someone who shows you that something can be done. To watch someone who may be perceived as having less of a chance to accomplish something than yourself, actually achieve that goal is motivating.
My two pronged challenge to you is this: Find a new hero, and set a goal that is beyond your comfort zone: something painful: Lose that weight, stop smoking, get that job, start that business, ask that person out, whatever your impossible is, you can do it.
A girl with only one leg, a man with no legs and a man pulling and pushing his son the whole way, all became an Ironman…
What have you done?
Pain does not hurt, it’s what growth feels like.