Suffering-the choice we all make

Suffering is a constant.

Take visiting the dentist, as an example.  If you go, you will suffer.  Shots, fillings, x-rays, cleanings, etc…none of them feel good.  Choose not to go, and you suffer.  Skip your cleanings and inspections and your teeth can rot.   Skip your checkups and potential cavities don’t get addressed, and then real damage can happen.  Either way, go or don’t go, and you suffer.

Jeff Gaura, racing against Europeans at the Powerman World Championships
The final run in Zofingen, against my peers from Europe.

Same goes with your athletic health.  If a cyclist skips riding for 4 weeks because of, say, weather, he/she suffers when they return.  Ask a runner who hasn’t ran in a few months what it is like to head back out…they can tell you stories.  They suffer.

Avoiding suffering creates a different dynamic.  Human nature convinces us that pleasure is good and pain is bad, and we decided to make that is a black and white issue. We have lots of negative self-talk about suffering and we associate with others who empathize with our desire to avoid suffering.  The different is that this avoidance policy yields zero benefits.  We don’t want to hurt, so we skip that which makes us hurt.  Later, we discover that we actually hurt more, care of our avoidance policy.  Too often, we are convinced that the day will come and we will “get around to it,” but we never do.  In retrospect it is stupid behavior we know not be true all the time, but we act like it is.

These next two weeks, I will suffer.  This am, I completed a 14 mile run.  It was humid and hot, and I changed shirts twice, as each one got soaked.  I even had to change my running shorts at the 10 mile spot, as they were so heavy with sweat that they were causing chafing.  My shoes were soaked with sweat and required a change out, as well.  The only items that I didn’t change were my hat and sunglasses!  The effort hurt, but it didn’t hurt as much as not being ready for Zofingen in three weeks.

Jeff Gaura, before the 2014 Long Distance National Championship, in Transition
Pre-race transition setup.  

This evening, I am scheduled to do a 30-mile bike ride.  Following up later in the week, I have a time-trial effort on the bike.  Saturday is a 75+ mile ride with a lot of climbing through the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Next week is an 18 mile run.  Scattered throughout these next two weeks are items like speed work, frequency runs, max strength/weightlifting and the like.  All of them have a “suffering” component to them.

If I don’t do them, I will certainly suffer mid-race.  Everyone who races Zofingen knows that there is a good chance (not just a slight chance) that circumstance/bad luck will cause even the fittest athlete to get a DNF.  The bike course is hilly and 90+ miles long. The run immediately following is hilly and contains sections of running on grass, gravel, trail and paved road.  I have talked to folks whom have raced it 5 times, only to finish once.

The only honest choice to consider is “which suffering” do I prefer.  I prefer the one that I control.  I prefer to have an alarm wake me up before sunrise to head out before the heat is overwhelming.  I prefer to get up early and Saturday and ride to the mountains so I can get stronger instead of sleeping in, wondering when I will get the moxy to “get around to it.”

Makes me wonder…when was the last time I saw the dentist?  I also need to get a colonoscopy scheduled.

Time to “get around to it.”

One thought on “Suffering-the choice we all make

  1. Lauren Schultz

    This is a great post, Jeff. I tend to flee hard work that hurts but you make a valid point about controlling the suffering versus having it dumped on you. Also, I need to go to the dentist too.

    Like

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