A common understanding among athletes is that ‘pain is temporary.’ Many athletes know pain, but appreciate it in different ways. Here are two of my favorite.
Terry Fox created the Marathon of Hope and ran a marathon a day for 143 consecutive days to raise money for cancer research. Terry Fox was an amazing young man, who succumbed to his cancer at age 22. Terry Fox knew pain, likely better than most of us will ever encounter. But he also knew that his pain was for a greater cause – one more important than what he was feeling. Today was the annual Terry Fox Run in Canada.
Haruki Murakami, author of “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running” refers to pain in a transcending way. More than just a physical discomfort, it is something greater within us to overcome. To be able to consciously change a feeling is the result of dedication and of opening up to the experience.
Of course it was painful, and there were times when, emotionally, I just wanted to chuck it all. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren’t involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the triathlon or the marathon, which demand such an investment of time and energy? It’s precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive–or at least a partial sense of it. Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself.