No Pain, No Gain?

This past weekend I did what I never thought possible – I ran 11 miles! Never in my life could I imagine that my body was capable of this. I despised running back in middle school and high school, and I absolutely dreaded having to run The Mile or The Pacer in gym class. You can only guess my excitement and joy when I realized how much I actually enjoyed running! It was a breakthrough and I couldn’t believe how my views on running had changed.

Upon completion of the 11 miler, I obviously felt great pride and joy at my abilities. But with the happiness came a nagging feeling that I soon pinpointed on the lack of that “I gave it my all and I’m 1000% drained” feeling. The good part? – I felt like I could’ve kept running. The bad part? – I felt like I could’ve kept running.

Yup, you read that right. My half marathon running concerns were slightly eased when I realized I was capable of completing the distance, but I was bugged by the fact that I clearly didn’t push myself out of my comfort zone. I had nothing something left in me. Was this a good thing?

At this moment in my life the answer is yes. I do not want my mind and body to associate running with pain. I know myself well enough to realize that I will end up hating running if this occurs. I run for pleasure and never force myself to maintain a certain pace. It’s no secret that I have zero pain tolerance, which steers me away from those extremely painful energy-sucking runs that leave me immobile (let’s ignore the fact that I am still ridiculously sore from my long run, especially in my quads…damn DOMS!).

In my opinion, there are loosely two kinds of runners (and I say loosely because no one fits into one category perfectly 100% of the time) – those that enjoy pushing themselves to the edge and those that often ignore their time and pace. I’m clearly the latter…for now at least ← this may change in the future. No pain, no gain No pain, all gain!

A half marathon is a new-to-me distance and I love the feeling of excitement and anticipation associated with it. At this point in my life my ultimate goal is to actually finish the race and continue enjoying my runs!

My final thought is this: I will never feel unsatisfied after a run even if I ran so slow I was basically crawling. Of course, not all runs are created equal, but to me a run is still a run regardless of the pace. I run my own race (thanks Janae for this quote!).

 What kind of runner are you? Do you believe in the no pain, no gain mentality?

♥ Irina

17 Comments

  1. July 12, 2012 / 8:36 am

    Wow, congrats on hitting 11! That’s HUGE!

    It all depends. I had a similar feeling after my long run on Tuesday (even though it was only 5). On shorter runs, I like to leave it all on the concrete, but on longer runs, I like to train my brain to associate them with being “easy”. Okay, not easy, but you know what I mean – I like to feel like they’re within my capabilities. I dread them, so walking away from a long run not hating life/feeling like I owned it makes it easier to do next week!

    • July 14, 2012 / 5:19 pm

      Thank you!! It was a big moment for me. Those are my thoughts exactly – I try to avoid associating “hate” with a run because the feeling of dread will pass on to all future runs. For me, training is very much mental as much as it is physical.

  2. July 12, 2012 / 9:12 am

    I LOVE THIS POST.

    I very much relate to not wanting my mind/body to associate running with pain. I’ve had a couple of ugly training runs over the past few weeks for various reasons, and for awhile it made me very skittish about getting out there again. It was a terrible feeling. So I think it’s very important to make sure that running stays fun and enjoyable. Otherwise, the risk of hurting yourself mentally and physically is just too high.

    I also love your thought on never feeling unsatisfied after a run, no matter how it goes. I need to start implementing that mindset myself. I find it’s too easy for me to slip into comparison mode and see that other runners are faster or stronger than me, and to get frustrated with myself. You are absolutely right that a run is still a run, and that we all run our own races. Running is something we do for ourselves, first and foremost! (By the way, I read Hungry Runner Girl, too. =) )

    CONGRATULATIONS on your 11-mile run, and especially the feeling that you could have kept going afterwards!!! That is an AMAZING accomplishment and you should be SO PROUD of yourself!!! You are going to do AWESOME at the RnR Chicago Half!!! (I can’t believe it’s coming up in less than 2 weeks!!! I’m really excited for what’s going to be a really fun race for all of us!)

    • July 14, 2012 / 5:25 pm

      Thanks so much!!! It really is a terrible feeling when doing something you used to enjoy (i.e. running) gives you anxiety and fills you with dread. It’s exactly what I want to avoid! You’re dead-on when you refer to the potential of hurting yourself mentally with “traumatizing runs” – I couldn’t agree more. And one of the first things I forced myself to accept when I started running was that I should always run my own race and never ever compare my fitness level/speed to anyone else. It really helped change my outlook on those not-so-great runs. Looks like we’re on the same page about the no pain-no gain mentality 🙂

  3. July 12, 2012 / 10:39 am

    Training runs are supposed to be easy! A great mentor told me “you should finish every training run feeling like you could go further” That leaves you feeling charged enough to push harder on race day! 😀 (Not that i can talk, i frequently run races where i don’t attempt to push myself in anyway….)

    • July 13, 2012 / 7:29 pm

      I was going to comment the same thing. You WANT to feel like you could keep going at the end of a training run. That is a good thing. That means you aren’t burning yourself out with training, and you will have enough in the gas tank for race day. BUT, that means on race day, if you want to, you can leave it “all on the course” and push yourself so you are drained at the end. Of course, you don’t HAVE to, if that’s not why you run. Actually, for your first race at any “new” to you distance, I recommend not pushing yourself as hard as you can. Push yourself, but still have fun with it, and finish feeling good. Then at your next half marathon, you can try to PR and push yourself harder 🙂

      • July 14, 2012 / 5:40 pm

        That is so great to hear from both of you! Burning myself out physically and mentally was one of my major fears during training, which is the main reason I avoided pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I know how sour my thoughts/mentality get the moment my body starts feeling less comfortable and more in pain, so my main goal has been to acclimate my body to running and enjoying it! We’ll see how the RnR goes…I’m getting nervous :/

  4. July 12, 2012 / 11:58 am

    Awesome job on the 11 mile run! Wow! That is so amazing! I just my first run in 2 years last night and it was.. well, MUCH MUCH MUCH shorter than yours, but I felt happy to see how well I did. I don’t think I would/could ever do a maranthon, that’s some intense sh*t but good luck to you! 🙂

    • July 14, 2012 / 5:26 pm

      Thanks! And like I said – a run is still a run regardless of how fast, slow, or far you ran! So you have plenty to be proud of…congrats!

  5. July 12, 2012 / 8:18 pm

    Wow, I’m so proud of you! That is awesome! I believe in no pain-no gain unless it’s injury related, then I’d rather take the break then gain the pain haha. Great job!

    • July 14, 2012 / 5:27 pm

      Thanks 🙂 I’m a baby when it comes to pain (and injuries of course) so I’m still taking it easy since my legs are just starting to adjust to the increase in mileage!

  6. July 12, 2012 / 9:49 pm

    Wow! Congratulations on your 11 mile run- that is awesome!
    For me, I do believe that in order to grow and ‘gain’ you have to experience some level of discomfort. Pushing yourself is never easy! But, if it becomes a pain that’s associated with injury, then it’s definitely not worth it! Your health, safety, and well-being have to come first!

    • July 14, 2012 / 5:34 pm

      Thanks so much! I completely agree that ‘gaining’ and growing is a challenge that requires pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Since I’m a newbie to running I’m still afraid of pushing myself too hard in fear of injury, burn-out, and falling out of love with running. However, I hope that I can soon start going that extra mile (literally and figuratively) with my runs.

  7. July 15, 2012 / 5:48 pm

    CONGRATS!! 11 miles is amazing 🙂
    I think I need to start pushing myself out of my comfort zone with my workouts. no more thinking I can’t!

    • July 15, 2012 / 9:39 pm

      Thanks so much! Sometimes it’s better to not push yourself too much though because you don’t want to burn yourself out! I say push yourself when you’re ready to go that extra distance 🙂

  8. July 16, 2012 / 3:09 pm

    I would say distance over speed, meaning make sure you can complete the distance before you worry about speed. I personally would rather have somewhere to improve to in the future than a bad taste in my mouth in the present over a race that went terrible awry. You can always work on improving your time in the future, provided you still enjoy running when the race is over.

    • July 17, 2012 / 9:09 pm

      My brain has definitely been on distance above speed mode! My thoughts were that once I knew I could physically complete the distance, the constant repetition of the distance will lead to a natural increase in speed.