Maximize Cycling Performance:
Clear Discernment Between
Discomfort and Pain
To maximize your cycling performance you must be able to discern between discomfort and pain.
Pain is not an inevitable daily condition of cycling performance. However, discomfort is essential. If you train to improve endurance, strength and speed (the enablers of performance), you will experience the discomforts that arise from stress and fatigue.
It’s important to know the difference between the irritability of discomfort, and the agony of pain:
- Discomfort usually arises gradually, and has a generalized, overall feeling.
- The onset of pain is typically more abrupt, and tends to occur at a specific location in your body, with a distinct sensation.
It is the consequences – more than the actual sensations – that distinguish one from the other:
- Discomfort results in healthy stress that stimulates recovery and adaptation to improve your performance. (See Endurance Training Cycle.) It’s a sign that you are challenging your current limits – which includes pushing beyond your comfort zone.
- Pain results in injury – which impedes recovery and adaptation. If you are focused on performance, you want to recover and adapt quickly, so you can continue the process of building fitness for your goal races.
So, when does stress become injury? How far do you push the discomfort of stress in your pursuit of cycling performance?
This distinction and discernment are unique for each of us and require experience – through consistent and sustainable training, and through goal racing. During your goal races, you may be willing to “gamble” a little – to sustain some degree of injury for the sake of your performance. In the days following your goal race – when sustainable training is suspended – you will discover the consequences and evaluate the results.
During your race, you must:
- Determine if you can maintain the pace and make it to the finish line without “blowing up”.
- Determine if the degree of injury you are sustaining is worth the glory.
It is a personal choice as to how you balance the glorious athlete in this moment with the ordinary human being who will return home after the finish line.
Performance has two sides: Failure and success.
- Failure is not a person. It is an experience.
- Success is not a person either. It too is an experience.
Both can be equally valuable in your growth and pursuit of excellence – the choice to create benefit from each one is yours.
The more mindfulness you bring to your training and your racing, the better your discernment between discomfort and pain. As you train, examine your relationships with pain and pleasure. Develop the equanimity that leads to wise discernment.
Bicycle Comfort: Addressing Common Cycling Pains
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