Pain and Suffering

Posted on July 22, 2011


Post REV3 Quassy aka in PAIN!

Sometimes others say it better.

“He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.

– Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

An active life serves the purpose of giving man the opportunity to realize values in creative work, while a passive life of enjoyment affords him the opportunity to obtain fulfillment in experiencing beauty, art or nature. But there is also purpose in that life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and which admits of but one possibility of high moral behavior: namely, in man’s attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces. A creative life and a life enjoyment are banned to join him. But not only creativeness and enjoyment are meaningful. If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death human life cannot be complete.

-Victor Frankl Man’s Search for Meaning (1959)

Matt Fitzgerald on Mastering the experience of Pain (Brain Training for Runners:

  1. Increase your tolerance for the pain and suffering of fatigue.
  2. Reduce the amount of fatigue-related suffering you experience at maximum [training] effort.


It’s funny how, in certain phases or periods of life, you’re attracted to like-minded people, ideas, books, etc.

  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • Brain Training for Runners by Matt Fitzgerald
  • Flow Psychology by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • Fit Soul, Fit Body; 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You by Mark Allen and Brant Secunda

Those are some of the current books I’m reading and they all have a similar theme:


Not really rocket science but, in this “magic-pill” day and age, everyone wants to know the secret successful “trick” or “tool”.  And yet people, employers, coaches, spouses, etc want to make simple things very complex! C’mon people; K.I.S.S.

Endurance sport is a blue-collar domain. There are a lot of white-collar people who enjoy participating or working in their various endurance sports but, at the end of the day the gloves must come off and you have to suffer like a old work horse. And if you’re required to experience pain in your competition then you better design some hard training sessions that force you to suffer!

I read another book a few months ago about “the winning brain” and it suggested several strategies to “think, act and be a winner”. One of them was to think of a successful person and emulate their behavior, psychological perspective, etc. Fortunately I have surrounded myself with successful people and Bec and Laurel Wassner are two of them.

From Day 1 I was amazed at their relentless ability to self inflict pain during training. At first, to be honest, I thought they were training too hard. Hearing of them winning races, watching them win races and then training side-by-side with them and many other successful and talent athletes out in Tucson was a huge wake-up call that triathlon (along with other endurance sports) requires blue-collar, hard work that down-right hurts!

So after recovering from REV3 Quassy, I realized I wasn’t training hard enough so I started punishing my body with long, hard tempo efforts. The next two weeks were hill climbs, bounding and big gear work. And the last bit is hard, fast, race simulation training. When it gets tough I put my chin down and push because I’m hell-bent on getting top 6 at the NYC Tri.

I’ll continue to read these great, thought-provoking books.

I’ll continue to do Bec’s swim workouts where I want to hurl in the pool.

I’ll continue to spend time in the saddle grinding out the TT intervals.

I’ll continue to run hard repeats on the track around 5 min/mile pace.

I’ll continue to experience the pain and suffering it takes to make it in this sport.

All for NYC TRI.

P.S. If you want to see what it takes watch the two videos below. Although they show only a snapshot of a hard 24-48 hours in an athlete’s day it sheds some light on the amount of pain you must endure and what kind of training the top coaches are prescribing.

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