The Pain Cave

Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

Sometimes you surprise yourself and realize that you are capable of more than you thought possible. Sometimes you are humbled by how far you have to go.

Sometimes the training is physical. Sometimes the training is mental. Some days you push your body harder than you want to. Some days you just have to convince your tired legs to keep moving.

Like a lot of people, my training took a hit over the holidays. This last week has been my first week back in full training mode and it hurt. A lot. With 11 weeks to go until Boston, things have to get serious. I went out for a 16 miler that turned into a 17 miler; when you run that long, the extra few minutes seem like torture. I learned that I can push tired legs a long way and I learned that I’m really not in shape to go run 17 miles.

At the start of the year, our Crossfit coach gave us a short talk on intensity. How most people who do Crossfit get wrapped up in lifting heavy weights that they miss the point of a lot of workouts – intensity. He advised us to go lighter and go faster and to get the most out of our gym time. To sacrifice our ego in exchange for real progress.

As we were warming up for the day’s workout, he told me that he wanted just the opposite from me. He told me he knew I could go fast and he wanted Crossfit to benefit my running adventures, but he told me that my version of pushing the intensity needed to be heavier weights. Go heavier, even at the risk of not finishing the workout. He told me that he believed I was capable of more. As an athlete, that is exactly what you want to hear and exactly what you don’t want to hear, all at once. It means someone believes in who you can be and it means that you are going to have to work harder than you want to work. You are going to struggle. A lot. You are going to camp out in the pain cave.

That is the theme of this training season. As I gear up for Boston, I’m going to be pushing myself way outside of my comfort zone. I trust that it will pay off. Physically and mentally. ¬†Because victory (and PRs) require payment in advance.

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