Saturday, January 12, 2013

Pain. Why We Need It To Improve

       Two years ago I found out I had a blood clot in my right arm caused by a fall off my bike in Colorado, Dehydration and 17 hour car ride home to Chicago. I found out I had to take Lovenox shots in my stomach to help get rid of the clot. I gave myself these shots twice a day for 3 months. When I first started to give myself the Lovenox it really hurt. After about 3 weeks I noticed the shots did not hurt that much anymore. Why was that? Does a person’s body get use to the pain? Does the brain block out the pain? This made me think about running. When we train hard, pain and fatigue sets in. Does our body/brain get used to those feelings of pain and fatigue? In future runs our brain might tell our body that it will be ok because we have felt this pain and fatigue before. The brain allows the muscles to work at a harder level because our training has conditioned it to accept this higher level of stress. I feel this is why it is important to do speed work and to race beyond our limits. The body must be accustomed to this new level of stress and not be shocked by it.

      I always do my races based upon time – a certain pace. I have had a lot of people and  some coaches tell me to race by feel, not time. This approach to racing states that you should not look at your Garmin for your pace (or if you don’t use a Garmin you should not be concerned with each mile split). When I started to research this topic I came across an article that explained why racing by feel might not be the best way to run your fastest time.

"The brain always allows a safety buffer that prevents you from running truly as fast as you could and thus risking self-harm. The size of this buffer is influenced by various factors. Basically, the more motivated you are, the smaller the protective buffer you will, and the faster you will run. Competition is a motivational factor that shrinks the buffer. It is also influenced by goals. If you set an appropriate race time goal, you will be able to run races faster than you could if you ran strictly by feel without a number in mind. A race time goal is like an imaginary competitor to race against.''

     After reading that article I feel I have chosen the method to help me run the fastest.
How do you really know you went all out and ran your hardest during a race?  Maybe if you looked at a GPS watch and saw you needed to run faster to hit your goals you would.  I know I do.

Here is the link to the whole article:

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