You're probably wondering where I'm going with this title. Destination... Primal!
I want you to close your eyes and think about how well you deal with pain. I'm talking about pain in competition and sport...in pushing yourself towards unknown physical and mental territories.
While listening to a post-race interview of Ironman champion Faris-Al Sultan describe his challenging performance at the 2011 Ironman Championship in Kona, I became fascinated by his remarks. He said that it just wasn't his day and that he didn't have the energy and fortitude to place better than 10th (which is still awesome). Faris revealed that for the first time in 15 years, he couldn't leave the comfort zone and enter the pain zone. He continued to say that in winning 2011 Ironman Germany, he left a part of his soul along the Frankfurt race course. Wow!!
Isn't this what it's all about though...how far can we push ourselves? (Not just in sport but in life as well.) When you're hitting the pavement, what determines whether you achieve that 7 min mile vs. 9 min mile? What pushes you to cycle 25 mph or an easier 20 mph? Outside of genetics and talents, it's experiencing discomfort while training and even more discomfort while competing.
A quick point though. Not for a minute do I promote training through physical injury in connective tissues, joints, or muscles. This is detrimental and unwise to future training and future wining.
Some sports involve more skill and ability, while others rely heavily on the idea of "ahhh, this hurts, and I wanna stop...OR...this hurts, but I wanna win"! And it really does hurt too. The chest and lungs ache for more oxygen; the quads and hams burn for more blood flow. The physical and mental fatigue can, if you allow it, take you down!
But know this, the only factor that separates you from the competitor in front or behind, is your ability to embrace the comfort in discomfort.