Embracing pain so you can grow

We just wrapped up the 2018 ECo EPIC weekend.  From my perspective, it was a great weekend. The athletes had their fair share of challenges, but each person dealt with it in their own way and came out the other side stronger. During the weekend, I happened to read a quote from Epictetus that resonated nicely with the ‘feels’ of EPIC. 

“The philosopher’s lecture hall is a hospital – you shouldn’t walk out of it feeling pleasure, but pain, for you aren’t well when you enter it.”

– Epictetus, Discourses, 3:23.30


To modify the quote a bit, “The endurance athletes training grounds are a hospital – you shouldn’t walk out of it feeling pleasure, but pain, for you aren’t fit when you enter it.”

Our “hospital” was EPIC. The nine athletes that chose to participate in EPIC did so because they knew they needed ‘treatment.’ And that ‘treatment’ was a BIG weekend of solid training. 🙂

EPIC athletes endured a lot of pain this past weekend and finished the weekend feeling physically destroyed (but emotionally alive). We went through mental and physical suffering. But, as I imagine EVERY PARTICIPANT will tell you, they walk out knowing they endured the pain and are stronger for it.

During hard times, we often question why we are in pain.

Sometimes the pain is voluntary (like EPIC). Other times the pain is against our wishes (boss has a deadline and we need to work overtime, a friend or loved one is sick or dying, WE are sick…). But we will always question, WHY am I in pain? And can I do anything about it?

Of course the answer to the second question is, “Yes!” You CAN do something about it. You are always in control of your choices. You can choose to embrace the pain or be a victim of the pain. You can look for positives in the suffering or drown in the waves of suffering.

Turning this scenario back to endurance training and EPIC, this past weekend, each EPIC participant experienced a moment where they wondered, “WHY am I putting myself in this painful position?” and “Can I do anything about it?” Each person answered those questions in their own way, BUT the result was the same. Each person persevered and made it to the finish line.

I don’t know each person’s internal conversation and negotiations they made as they slogged through swimming 10k, biking 210 miles, and running 26.2 miles, but they had to face a moment where they weren’t “feeling pleasure, but pain.”

Too many times we take the path of least resistance. Why? Because it’s easy. It makes us feel good. But often this is NOT the path to growth. We need to extend ourselves physically and mentally in order to improve. And this often hurts or is uncomfortable. You struggle as you “enter the hospital” (training, studying, practicing). But this is the path to a better you.