Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Pain in Racing--Words of Wisdom From Dr.Sheehan

The wonderful thing about Dr George Sheehan was that he was not only a medical doctor, he was also a competitive runner.He experienced everything we competitive runners experience.He possessed remarkable insights into this great sport.Consider his thoughts in regards to pain.
"Pain is a private affair.My pain cannot be felt by another.When I am in a race I know the others around me are also in pain.But each of us is in a separate cell.I can never know quite what the runner next to me is going through.
There is but one answer to pain:go out to meet it,plunge into it,grasp it as you would the nettle.If your instinct is to withdraw,you are done.There is always the chance you will push through it into an area as calm as the eye of a hurricane.
The runner is not a masochist.He does not enjoy pain.But between the runner and a personal best lies pain in quantity.He does not seek sufferance but once it has been experienced he somehow feels better for it."
I would add to the last sentence that the runner also gets a sense of satisfaction after the race knowing that he resisted the little voice in his head that was telling him to ease up when things started getting painful.
A good point Sheehan makes is that every runner in a race is suffering as much as we are. We need to remember that fact because more runners than you think do back down or let up some once the going gets tough.This is especially true of the runners who come in after the first one third of the finishers at a road race.Frankly, from what I've seen these days, the figure may be closer to three quarters but that is a topic for another post.
As Cerutty,Lydiard and others have taught,acclimate yourself to dealing with the pain you'll experience during the closing moments of a race,practice finishing strong so it almost becomes a reflex action when the real thing comes,remind yourself to remain smooth and relaxed,maintaining form; tell yourself that everyone is hurting but you have prepared yourself better than anyone else in the race.
Successful racing is all about meticulous mental and physical preparation.

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