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The Pain Cave

Posted by Gale Bernhardt Jul 27, 2007

To realize your full potential as an endurance athlete, you've got to love to suffer. All of the endurance athletes I've worked with are willing to visit the darkness of the pain cave now and then.


Am I suggesting that you push through the physical pain of a sore joint? Am I suggesting that you visit the cave every day? Of course not.




I am suggesting that if you are in sports long enough, you will do some suffering if you hope to search for your potential as an athlete. Enduring discomfort is part of the deal.




During a hard climb, right when you want to give up, push just one more pedal stroke.




When it seems that your final destination is unmanageable, focus on making it to the next marker - a rock, a tree or a sign post - that lies just ten feet ahead. Then do it again.




When lightening, rain and wind are breathing down the back of your jersey--race them to the safety of your car.






The photo of Ernie Wintergerst and I was at the end of a preride of the Columbine Mine climb at Leadville, Colorado. (Thanks to Scott Ellis for the photo.) Although I can't speak for Ernie, Scott or Alan Ley I can tell you that parts of the climb were tough for me. I could hear Phil Liggett commenting, "She's in difficulty now..."




Those difficult times passed for me and yours will too.




For the weather, we lost one weather race, but won another.




It may be hard to see much detail in the photo, but our faces are fully spattered with mud. Charging ahead of us, the rain laid a slippery carpet down a good part of the descent. Water and mud sprayed everywhere as we rode down the mountain.




While riding down, another cloud heavy with rain threatened us. Bangs of thunder and flashes of lightening made us feel vulnerable.




At the end of this particular ride, I was happy to celebrate the discomfort with a big smile. Although dirty, cold and wet, we were smiling and happy. We beat the worst weather...this time.



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