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Pushing Past the Pain: Secrets of Elite and Not-So-Elite Athletes

So this one isn’t necessarily related to snowboarding. In fact, it may be more related to – gasp! – cycling, but I thought I would share it anyway. Especially since I just completed my first half-marathon last weekend, and I’ve come to realize how much of it is mental rather than physical. I firmly believe that once you can train your mind and body to put up with running 10k or 15k, running 21k (a half marathon) or a 42k (a full marathon) becomes far easier. Which is why I found this New York Times article interesting. You can find it here.

The article basically surmises that elite athletes in sports like running and cycling focus almost entirely on motivating themselves to do better and improve. Recreational athletes, on the other hand, try to almost distract themselves from the challenge in order to simply complete it. The more an athlete can tolerate pushing themselves and straddling the line between performance and all-out blowing up, the article suggests, the better they do.

Sounds simple, I know, but the article makes it sound like a science.  🙂

Steve and I actually talk about this a fair bit when we discuss cycling or running. I was a lousy recreational runner for many years; I would run a 30-minute 5k or 6k every five days or so and tell myself I got some exercise. The problem, though, was that I really wasn’t pushing myself to get any better, nor was I really achieving what I set out to do (lose weight).

About this time last year I joined a gym, and got much more serious about getting in shape. I started running several times a week, and still do. I run the same distances, largely, that I ran before, but I’m always trying to run them hard and fast. By always pushing myself to work harder and exert myself further, I have found the results have slowly started to come. But it sure takes a lot of time and dedication, and falling off the path for even a couple of weeks means the results start to unravel a bit!


  1. This could be similar to snowboarding still. Once I started competing in the halfpipe I started hiking the pipe more and more. Even avoiding the lift lines to help keep my concentration and not get caught up in the recreational side of things! Great post, thanks!

    Posted by snowboard halfpipe | October 23, 2010, 1:08 pm
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