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Old 03-17-07, 12:07 AM   #1
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Racing and pain -- an observation

How is it we forget pain so quickly? It's not really masochism. But everyone experiences that feeling at least once a season (for me, once a race): that "what the hell, never doing this again" feeling. But almost immediately after the race, it's forgotten and the racer is planning his/her next wilful invitation of pain and humiliation. I suppose it's just an evolutionary thing: that capacity to quickly forget pain that doesn't injure. I shouldn't mischaracterise. Racing is fun, but an uncomfortable type of fun even at the best of times. Ah well, chalk it up to adrenaline.
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Old 03-17-07, 12:33 AM   #2
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Crushing the souls of thine enemies and hearing the lamentations of their women folk makes it all worth it.

Also, it helps if you go on at least one training ride near the beginning of your season that is as painful as possible. Find a stronger guy to ride with and spend 40-50 miles just trying to hold his wheel on some hills. Racing will feel like cake in comparison, I ****e you not!
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Old 03-17-07, 01:39 AM   #3
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I used to wonder if the guys who were winning were hurting as much as I was.

Then I started winning and learned that it hurts even more at the front.
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Old 03-17-07, 06:54 AM   #4
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Simple; the body does not remember pain.
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Old 03-17-07, 07:04 AM   #5
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I think everyone feels it, and thinks about quitting. I know I've felt that, and I know other very strong riders who win a lot feel that way.

You're suffering, and you wonder why you do it. Why bother? You're too slow/too fat/too weak to win. It's stupid...but the draw of the race keeps you going, and keeps you coming back.

Competition is both the means, and the end.
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Old 03-17-07, 07:44 AM   #6
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I've known plenty of pain as an ex-racer running road races. Many running road races and track races are done way above LT. Talk about painful. Your chest is heaving, lungs burning in an attempt to get more oxygen to muscles that are accumulating more and more lactic acid and producing hydrogen ions. You can't slow down because that's what you should be feeling for that race distance.

At the end, some people say "never again" and I wouldn't see them out there the following year. Others say, "never again", but next season, there we are toeing the start line again. It's crazy.

Racers, who are their own engines, have an appreciation for the feelings incurred during a race. The excitement at the start, the jockeying for position, the pushing of physical limits within the context of the race distance and requiremets, the eventual pain and fatigue, the battling past the pain and the fatigue to finally cross the finish line, the elation and feelings of fulfilment that you did the very best you could. And for the very few who cross the line first, the pride of being one of the best for that day.

Your everyday man and woman on the street has no clue.

Last edited by NoRacer; 08-06-07 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 03-17-07, 07:51 AM   #7
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Same could be said for childbirth, right?

On a side note: When I was about 18, I read an article in Bicycling about pain in racing. The pain this. The torture that. About how it's the most overwhelming thing in racing--how to deal with the pain, pain, pain. It turned me off of racing, which was a shame, becuase now that I'm 50, I'm finally going to try my first race.

So while I understand the pain angle, I also appreciate the idea that, hopefully, it's not the biggest aspect of the race. It's the race. (Right? Tell me this is right!)

Cheers.
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Old 03-17-07, 07:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bitingduck
I used to wonder if the guys who were winning were hurting as much as I was.

Then I started winning and learned that it hurts even more at the front.
+1 After winning, I about fell over at the line and thought "WTF?" That was the day my burnout started -- and unfortunately the day I earned the last of my Cat 3 upgrade points...

I think training for suffering is as important as training for fitness, and my head's in a lot better place with it now, 15 years after that win. I find myself, suffering much more by myself and much less when others are trying to dial it up.

I think the best example of forgetting pain is with women giving birth. The fact that they'll agree to a 2nd child is astonishing.

EDIT: just beat me to it, Second Mouse!
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Old 03-17-07, 07:57 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Second Mouse
Same could be said for childbirth, right?

On a side note: When I was about 18, I read an article in Bicycling about pain in racing. The pain this. The torture that. About how it's the most overwhelming thing in racing--how to deal with the pain, pain, pain. It turned me off of racing, which was a shame, becuase now that I'm 50, I'm finally going to try my first race.

So while I understand the pain angle, I also appreciate the idea that, hopefully, it's not the biggest aspect of the race. It's the race. (Right? Tell me this is right!)

Cheers.
It's the feeling that you pushed yourself to do the best you could do. It's icing on the cake to finish first.

Being flooded at the end of the race with endorphins reenforces the desire to do it again in the near future.
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Old 03-17-07, 07:58 AM   #10
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The vast, vast majority of us are just random Cat X guys vying for a spot on the cheap plywood podium. There are no dreams of turning pro, making money, etc. In most cases, there's only a 1 in 75 shot that I'll win the day. Much worse odds than the guy who's teeing up with his regular foursome right now.

There is pride in overcoming adversity. Maybe it's just not getting dropped this time. Maybe it's finishing with the pack. Maybe it's winning the prime or the finishing sprint. At the end of the day, though, it doesn't matter. The satisfaction comes from pushing harder, faster than before, and the further we push the more we realize we're capable of.
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Old 03-17-07, 08:39 AM   #11
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For me the pain is much more noticeable doing solo interval training. In a race or hard group ride, there is inherent external motivation (not to embarrass yourself) and there are other people and actions to focus on.

Doing hard intervals, I am constantly wanting to quit and thinking "why am I doing this" "this is stupid" "I am hurting myself" "I could just quit right now" "I am getting over a cold so it's okay if I quit early" etc, etc...

Fighting that internal voice is really hard.
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Old 03-17-07, 08:59 AM   #12
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Because in the end, win or lose, something is gained.

And it's worth it.
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Old 03-17-07, 09:02 AM   #13
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For me the pain is much more noticeable doing solo interval training. In a race or hard group ride, there is inherent external motivation (not to embarrass yourself) and there are other people and actions to focus on.

Doing hard intervals, I am constantly wanting to quit and thinking "why am I doing this" "this is stupid" "I am hurting myself" "I could just quit right now" "I am getting over a cold so it's okay if I quit early" etc, etc...

Fighting that internal voice is really hard.
x1 billyun...I guess that's probably pretty similar with everyone. I do 99% of my riding with others, even interval sessions.

I wonder if a big difference between those who see huge gains from training vs those who don't is the first group has a much higher pain threshold and hold hard efforts for longer...

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Old 03-17-07, 02:48 PM   #14
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See these two threads ...

why do we suffer?

pain

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Old 03-17-07, 11:52 PM   #15
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Really interesting responses. It's cool to see the different attitudes we have to the same phenomenon.

+1 Big time to the pain of training though. The great thing I've found this year is that it doesn't have much -- at least for me -- to do with motivation; it's just a matter of having very focussed goals; and then having tons of discipline.
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Old 03-18-07, 12:29 AM   #16
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Same could be said for childbirth, right?
I wouldn't know.
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Old 03-18-07, 04:23 AM   #17
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I'm quite sure that if you ever mention to a woman in labor that what she's going through is in any way similar to a BIKE RACE, you'll get injured.
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Old 03-18-07, 04:58 AM   #18
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I'm quite sure that if you ever mention to a woman in labor that what she's going through is in any way similar to a BIKE RACE, you'll get injured.
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Old 08-06-07, 07:18 AM   #19
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I think I am too weakly motivated when cycling alone. That internal voice that says "Ok you can just get off an walk now" or "why bother, you are training for endurance", or the best one yet "you still have 6 weeks until the big ride". The only time I really can push myself is in a group when the embarrassment of getting dropped keeps me going. I gotta figure this out, though, cause so much of training is a solo effort.
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Old 08-06-07, 07:29 AM   #20
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I'm quite sure that if you ever mention to a woman in labor that what she's going through is in any way similar to a BIKE RACE, you'll get injured.

I'm glad I never have to find out what that feels like!!! I'll take a bit of gutter action any day.
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Old 08-06-07, 08:37 AM   #21
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I find the pain of intervals easier to endure than the pain of racing. With an interval, you know when the pain will end ("just sixty more seconds and I can recover!") but in a race the duration of the pain is beyond my control. That makes it scarier.
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Old 08-06-07, 04:06 PM   #22
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I've known plenty of pain as an ex-racer running road races.
I've realized that when I was really beat running though I slowed down enough so that I couldn't hurt myself anymore. I suffered but caught my breath and was good to go in a day or two, even after marathons.

The difference on a bike is that I can be fairly toasted and still kick out repeated efforts that will rip me up enough so that I'm sore for a week. It's obvious that for me personally, getting into situations where very hard efforts are very painful and make me go faster is pretty easy. But it's also the case that these efforts impact my overall workout schedule.

I'm trying to figure out now if I'm stronger after these thrashings than if I'd just done races and workouts below this high pain threshold. I'm more interested in continuous improvement than this year's race performance. I know Carmichael's said about Lance's post cancer training was that more focused on things like aerobic fitness than pain.
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Old 08-06-07, 05:15 PM   #23
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Then I started winning and learned that it hurts even more at the front.
I think Greg Lemond said it best (although I think he was refering to racing up mountains)

"It does'nt get easier, you just go faster."
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Old 08-06-07, 06:11 PM   #24
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I know Carmichael's said about Lance's post cancer training was that more focused on things like aerobic fitness than pain.
I'd also be willing to bet that there are plenty of CAT2/3 sprinters who could nip post cancer Armstrong at the line in a crit.

We who generally only race 60 minute crits, and 60 mile RRs probably don't want to train the same way as a GT centric pro does...
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Old 08-06-07, 07:14 PM   #25
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I'd also be willing to bet that there are plenty of CAT2/3 sprinters who could nip post cancer Armstrong at the line in a crit.

We who generally only race 60 minute crits, and 60 mile RRs probably don't want to train the same way as a GT centric pro does...
I would also point out that listening to some Pro or Trainer as Carmichael as to how one should train is akin to listening to Dorian Yates give you pointers on body building. Pointless.
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