By Jay Markiewicz- Endurance Racing Magazine
I want to share with you the two quotes I say to myself when I stand at the start of every race. The first one is, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” The second is, “Only in times of suffering are we closest to our consciousness!” And bam, does that get me fired up to race!
Because look, no matter how much we try, no matter how much we talk about theory, tools, applications and mind-sets, the bottom line is that we all find ourselves, at some point or another, on the edge of suffering. And it’s in those moments that we get to see the deepest part of our spirit.
Standing at the start of an endurance race, I wonder: What part of me is going to show up today? What will I learn about myself that I don’t already know? Some people shy away from pushing too hard to prevent crossing into that realm. Me, I do it to see what I’m made of. Endurance racing is as much spiritual as anything. There is a gift in that. The gift is we get to peek into our soul when we’re on that fine line between Pain and Suffering.
The first quote gives us the key – “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” Every single athlete out there on the race course is living that quote, over and over again.
“Pain is inevitable…”
Pain – a biological signal to the brain of a distressing sensation
Inevitable – unable to be avoided, sure to occur, certain
“…suffering is optional.”
Suffering – a mental interpretation and emotional response to that pain signal
Optional – not required, elective, something we can choose
The simple truth: In endurance racing, pain will be certain; suffering is your choice.
And how, again, is suffering a choice? Suffering is a choice because it is your mind’s interpretation of the signal coming from your body. A mind-set.
Maybe it would help to identify some interpretations of the pain signal. Imagine it’s late in your endurance race and you are full of pain signals. How do you interpret them?
Pain (Not suffering)
- I know this feeling.
- I’ve been here before.
- Focus on form.
- I can endure.
- I’m pushing harder than ever and crushing it.
- If I’m hurting, that guy is suffering.
- I’m blowing up.
- Why do I do this crap?
- I’m never doing this again!
- I can’t stand this!
- Slow down.
The moment of choice is your performance edge. Recognize those moments; and when you choose a mind-set of pain over suffering, you will be able to push to a higher performance edge.
I challenge you to choose to push your performance edge.
Jay Markiewicz is an endurance athlete and Fortune 500 Leadership Coach, Sports Performance Coach, and founder of Inner Competitor® – an organization that works with clients who want to perform better and enjoy their life more. You can contact Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org.