Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Simon Thompson

When Simon came to speak to us this fall he told us when he toed the line in the Athens olympics he absolutely knew he was ready. That perspective took him to a 10th place finish despite 2 bike crashes.

When it comes to looking at things, it amazes me how people may have a different perspective, or completely different take on it. (yea this one is a little deep) Ask 3 people what they think about "x" and they each might have totally different spin on it; sometimes this can lead to confusion, misunderstanding, or... a totally new insight. Add to that a Male's opinion of "x" and compare that to a female's and 9/10 they will be completely different.

Take for example in the aftermath of an Olympic distance race when all are strutting around trading race stories and giving their own personal re-cap Joe Shmo might say, wow it was such a hilly run, I was so not ready for that. Where Tommy Tri Geek might say that wasn't hilly, that was nothing compared to "x". You could substitute wind, cold, heat, for hills and have the same conversation. Each individuals past experience can shape their perspective on any given thing.

This time of year, a 2 hr indoor ride seems long, but 2 hrs of riding outside goes by in a flash. For an athlete returning to running after time off due to injury, run 4 miles can seem like a marathon, or an athlete who has had their ACL reconstructed, just pedaling a full circle on the bike is a big milestone. Sometimes perspectives can change as our experience changes.

Perception of pain is no exception. In the clinic I work with people in some degree of pain or there wouldn't be there to see me. Usually some amount of pain is causing dysfunction, or impairment to some aspect of their life. For some it may be just sleeping, others simple day to day tasks like walking, getting dressed or just sitting at their desk, and others ....it affects their sport. Individuals have their own level of pain tolerance. Some can handle a lot, some can only take a little. Each perspective is different. For those that have pain that impairs their sleep, might face each day with a whole different perspective than those who have pain only when playing tennis, running or shooting hoops.

Perspective on how the day will go, or how a workout will go before the start...can influence the outcome. If you go into a workout saying; this isn't going to go well because I'm tired, hungry, sore, bored then most likely that perspective will take you right there to a bad workout. Sometimes even if the above is true (hungry, sore, tired, ) and I have given workout that seems daunting, I have to really psych myself up to do it. There have been plenty of times the negative perspective has won and its has been for sure a bad workout, but....there have been many times that I have overcome what seems impossible and amazed myself.

That pain tolerance for each individual is evident during triathlon. How much pain can you tolerate when racing, doing hard interval sets, or hill climbs. As a coach it gets difficult to educate athletes on dealing with the pain that comes with pushing and taking it to the next level. It is difficult because everyone's perspective of pain is different. In the middle of a race when it starts to hurt (if its not, you're not going hard enough), how much pain are you willing to endure before slowing down. In an Ironman how long can you go before the pain makes you stop and walk. This level of pain is different for everyone. The pro's get good at tolerating pain. Their experiences in training and racing help them with their perspective on enduring it.

Changing your perspective and opening your mind to greater potential, faster times, higher wattages, can make or break your workout or your race. A better perspective can allow more tolerance of pain.

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