Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Good Pain vs Bad Pain
With new clients it's generally a challenge teaching them to sort out good pain from bad. Good pain is the type associated with "no pain, no gain," while bad pain is more associated with "no pain, no brain." The former is the type that exercise induces that is your muscles and cardiovascular system working against the forces of your workout. The latter is bone, joint, connective tissue or other signs your body is giving you that you're doing something harmful to it. It's often not easy to sort out the difference. To max your body's potential you need the ability to fight through pain, but if you fight through the wrong kind of pain you'll never be able to reach your potential.
New clients often think that the standard soreness from a hard session is the sign of an injury. Conversly, seasoned athletes tend to feel that they can ignore and fight through anything with enough willpower. This often leads beginners to give up training altogether and athletes to be chronically injured or, only slightly better--to spend most of their careers in a state of being overtrained.
How hard is it to get right? Well, I've been around this block a bit and I often can't tell. Part of it is from sheer manicness. If I can't exercise I'm a bad person to be around. My doctor recognized this straight away, telling me "you're going to f@$% this recovery up, aren't you?" And in spite of his warning and my own knowledge, I'm probably bordering on pushing too far. I've regressed a bit in the last two days. It may be a normal part of the recovery but I had just inceased my exercise level as well, so I'll blame myself. Today I'm back to icing and sitting in front of a computer.
There's a saying amongst the endurance athletes that goes "it's better to be 25% undertrained than 1% overtrained." This is because 1% overtrained means injured, or at least a state of cumulative microtrauma. It means that you can't train or can't compete, productively. It means that racing someone 25% undertrained will be frustrating because they will have their emergency fibers ready for use while yours are extinguished. And then you'll be racing someone that you know damn well hasn't put the work in that you have, and they will beat you. This is a horrible feeling. It happens all the time.
I always tell myself that if I don't feel like training then I shouldn't. I try my best to stick to this rule; I still often fail. I just had a surgery. I hurt. But it's beautiful out. My bikes are all clean and beggin me to ride them. And I want to. I want to bad. But I'm not going to. I'm going to sit here and ice and work and read and maybe watch a movie. I'm not going to ride. And making myself do that hurts a lot more than any pain I'd face on the bike.
pic: good pain: the only thing more painful than time trialing is not time trialing.