Learning to Endure: Outlasting physical and emotional pain

There are many types of endurance when it comes to sport. We usually use the term in reference to an athlete’s cardio ability or their stamina, however Endurance can also be used to refer to an athlete’s constitution, fortitude or resilience towards emotional and physical pain.

20170713_110852In late 2014 I had my first real trial when it came to emotional and physical endurance. In the lead up to my first ever Jiu Jitsu tournament, I separated my floating rib during training a week before the competition which left me unable to perform even the most fundamental of grappling movements without agonising pain throughout my chest and back. I still competed in the tournament, I also did not take any time off to let the injury heal as I tried to train around it as best I could.

It took over 12 weeks until I was pain free during training, or even resting. In that time I trained myself to stop sneezing (as the pain from a simple sneeze literally blinded me and left me near-cripple afterwards). Unfortunately I didn’t learn much from this experience about endurance; I learnt more about my tolerance for pain and training around an injury. As it turned out, without proper recovery and rest, I broke that same rib almost a year later. It was then that I came to understand the lessons of Endurance.

The difference between a separation and a break is tremendous. As anyone who has experienced this can tell you; there is not much you can do for either, but the moving framework of your body has been significantly compromised. There was no chance I could train through the break, it was one of the most painful (and most limiting) injuries I’ve had. Whilst I recovered I was emotionally discouraged, as I felt all the improvement and momentum I was making in training slip away, I was also physically compromised in such a way that even the act of sitting down or getting out of bed was a painful experience. There was now working around it, pain relief was pointless. I had no choice but to endure the injury.

Without dwelling too much on my own experience with a specific injury, I suppose the larger point to this is: whatever physical or emotional trials we have to overcome, sometimes the only thing we can do is endure. Sometimes there simply is nothing we can do to change our situation, sporting or otherwise, for the better. Sometimes all we can do is brace ourselves for the inevitable test of your emotional or physical will.

One thing I have found is that the people who are best able to endure are those who regularly test themselves against uncomfortable and trying situations. All too often it is easier for us to shy away from these challenges in favour of a comfortable routine or cushy, ‘manageable’ regiment. It seems to me that people who best learn to endure are also laying for themselves an unshakeable bedrock upon which they can build success in their lives and develop a core resilience which cannot be shaken, even by the most serious of emotional or physical trials.

Learn to Endure and Learn to Succeed.

 

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