For new readers

To get an idea of what I'm trying to do and why I think it's possible, check out the following entries, they'll help get you up to speed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Pain Cave vs. Suffer Mountain

Jason and Chelsey of team Yogaslackers have are busy.  They are running around the country teaching acroyoga workshops, trying to raise money for a charity as part of their participation in the Rickshaw Rally (a two week adventure across India) and planning their return to the hardest adventure race in the world next February, the Patagonian Expedition race, where they've finished just shy of the top spot (2nd and 3rd) in the last two editions.  Seeing as how the latter comes so quickly on the heels of all the former and considering that they really really want to be on the podium again this time around, one might naturally ask the question - how in the world are they going to train for that?

Well, because they are so busy they've asked me to sort of train them - to use my experience with preparing for long efforts with high intensity training to give them some workouts that will provide maximum payoff. They have so much experience with expedition length racing that they aren't worried about the mental side at all - but they do want to go into the race faster than they've ever been before.  I've agreed and have started giving them 10 minute workouts to do two or three times a week.  They are going to keep doing longer efforts as well, with the caveat that they have to limit their other activity if it prevents them from making progress in the 10 minute workouts on a weekly basis.

Suffer Mountain - always pretty from a distance

A real life pain cave
They are now on their second week and Jason has reported back that he already appreciates how much being inside is critical in making short, super intense efforts possible on a continual basis.  In thinking about this (i've written about it in passing before), i've decided to describe this phenomenon with another one of my famous analogies - the pain cave vs. suffer mountain.

For me, the pain cave is just that - a cave.  The deeper I go into the cave, the more distractions I take away, the greater the potential I have of finding that pain.  Being inside - out of the wind and rain, warmed by a nice fire in the middle of the cave - it is easier to go deeper.  If i've got 10 minutes to pour myself into a workout, and i want that workout to be performed at maximum physical intensity on a regular basis - i need those distractions removed.  Yeah, once in a while i can head out to the track or have an epic tire drag session through the park - but three times a week?  Not a chance.  My body and mind will respond to all the new variables - the temperature, the wind, etc - and that little man in charge - the central governor, will have a better argument as to why he can't let me push quite that hard - and i'll believe it.  But by eliminating as many of the variables as possible, I can focus more directly on the sensations that matter - my breathing, my heart rate, the lactic acid building in my muscles, and that little voice in my head that is always questioning whether i can keep doing what i'm doing. So when the goal is maximal physical effort - or as close as i can get - into the cave i go. 

Suffer Mountain - usually not so pretty up close
On the flip side is the suffering of long endurance events.  This, for me, is like climbing a mountain.  It is the mental challenge of 'getting through' the point where you've begun your monumental task - previously just considered while sipping coffee in front of a laptop in cozy armchair - and first properly recognize its actual scope.  Its the realization that the moment that is held in the mind - the end result - is the culmination of many hours of moments, many of which may entail much suffering.  At times the climbing may be fine and the sun shining - but if the mountain is really a mountain, it's virtually guaranteed that you'll won't make it up before the afternoon storms.  And if it's my kind of mountain, it'll take at least a night spent in 'less than ideal' conditions. 

I don't usually do events unless i know they are going to involve a good bit of time on suffer mountain.  Interestingly, i'm now doing all my training deep in the pain cave, from which the mountains aren't even visible.  But i have of course spent many days, weeks, or even months on suffer mountain's slopes, and my familiarity with them (hopefully) enables me to spend my time preparing for my next 'climb' more efficiently and focused, neanderthal style. 

Occasionally you even find caves on suffer mountain.  They are rarely warm or big enough to train in though..... Jason and Chelsey during our 2010 'too much fun' expedition.

No comments:

Post a Comment