Ok, so I have been tossing up what I wanted to blog about this week. I was going to write about nutrition but then I realized that nutrition is over rated. Yes, its important but there's one little thing that trumps it. You can have the best nutrition in the world and not perform. In fact, a couch potato on a diet playing Xbox could have better nutrition than you. But, they are not on the bike or running.
So what makes you different? The pain factor. Bicycling magazine recently had an article on pain and how one can push through pain. Its a great article so if you have the Jan issue, read it. If you don't then read on.. So, I read it and decided to do a teeny tiny experiment. I set off to hit the hills to see just how much pain I could inflict on myself and to see if I could switch off the pain receptors in my brain. I cruised to the base of the hill at an easy pace, then I hit the climb with everything I had and more! My legs seared with pain, my lungs ran out of air. I thought I was going to pass out and die. But, I didn't. Rather, I got a new personal best on the hill and did not die. I felt amazing. The rest of the ride was uneventful but I had proved my point - you can oush beyond what you think you can.
My next race was ok, I tried to push but did not succeed as I had hoped. Still got an awesome time and result but knew I could do better. So, my next race was the Dis-Chem Ride for Sight and this time I had a plan: I was going to rock this race. I headed out the start and was with the front guys but within 800m, I knew their pace was too insane so I sat up and waited for the bunch. (Interestingly I hold the Strava QOM for the start so I know I went all out.) I stuck to the front of F batch, helping when I felt like it but I worked on conserving energy. The bunch was going at a crazy pace!! I was really really scared that I could hang on. Someone in the batch said we covered the 1st 44km in 1hour. It was sore!!!! But, I somehow transferred the eina to energy and kept going. Then came the hills and i switched my Bryton to Heart Rate view and saw how much I could suffer. I set a goal of where I wanted my HR to be and i kept it there. I also marked a stronger climber and tried to stick on their wheel or ahead of them. Up the big Heidelberg climb, I tried to see how many people I could pass. One person commented that we were almost at the top. In a psychopathic moment, I looked back at the hill we had just been up, looked down at my gearing and went "um, hill? I am still in my big blade!" Ja, I got chirped and told to go away... so I did I dropped a gear and cruised up the hill. The rest of the ride was the same: keep near the front of the batch. Then came the last 1km. I attacked. The bunch came with so it didn't work. I kept trying to get away to no avail. In the last 800m, I got boxed in, so dropped back and at 500m I attacked again, this time giving it all! I am not a sprinter but I went all out, and so did everyone else. It was so cool! A bunch of us in full Tour de France style sprinting mode. It was amazing and it didn't hurt. I had switched off pain and was fully focussed.
So, for 116km, I had managed to ignore pain and actually make myself suffer. Best part was that I have always worried about bonking if i went all out but I didn't. Instead, I learnt a valuable lesson: one can switch off the pain part of the brain and perform. New records, new feelings. At times I felt the pain, at other times my stats said I should be in pain but I wasn't. Weird.
Want proof I pushed harder than ever? Well, my time of 3:25 speaks for itself. Add the fact that I was 13th in my group and 1st lady in my group, I think I set a new level for, myself. I felt amazing!!
So, next time you are running or riding and you feel that feeling of pain, go harder. When the pain is intense, up the pace, when you feel like you are going to die, just remember that those around you feel the same then keep going. Its not always the fittest who wins, its the one who can push harder and suffer longer.
Now: go out there and experiment in your own push pain to the back game!