10 ways to push through pain and reframe suffering to run faster and longer
1- Believe in yourself. A study from the University of Illinois, US, found athletes who felt they could tolerate leg-muscle pain did better in a running test than those who doubted their ability to stomach discomfort.
2- Remind yourself that pain is temporary.
3- Use past experiences – even negative ones. Did you quit because it hurt so much last time? To boost motivation, harness the anger you felt with yourself for failing to push harder.
4- Be part of a group. At Oxford University, a study found pain tolerance was higher following a group rowing workout than it was after rowing alone.
5- Get some support. In Marcora’s study of social encouragement, cyclists rode to exhaustion while looking at a screen that flashed happy or sad human faces. The riders shown the happy faces lasted 12 per cent longer.
6- Use others. In a study published in the Journal
of Science and Medicine in Sport, cyclists raced against an avatar moving at the speed they’d achieved in an earlier time trial performed alone. They reached higher speeds against the ‘competition’.
7- Accept the pain but don’t focus on it, suggests a University of California study. Participants found that relaxed breathing helped performance.
8- Use cafeine. It acts on the brain to make exercise feel easier.
9- Get used to it! Prior experience of pain or the sensation of intense efort informs future eforts, which is why it’s sometimes said that athletes have greater pain tolerance.
10- Run when mentally fatigued. ‘Run at the end of a tough, stressful day,’ says Marcora. ‘You’ll have fatigued your mind, so it will require more efort.’