Anyone who works out for any length of time knows the dreaded pain barrier all too well. Some call it the wall, an apt name since you can’t go around it, you have to simply power through.

What is it?

When our bodies require more energy than can be provided through oxygen and fat reserves alone, the body switches from aerobic to anaerobic mode. This burns glycogen, which then breaks down into lactic acid, and that acid burns. It can feel as if every nerve is aflame.  

Micro manage

There is almost universal agreement that the degree of pain is a matter of perception, and that our perception depends on our attitude. Many recommend setting micro goals within our workout to help conquer the wall. So even though we don’t stop at each milestone, it helps us to break it up into manageable targets. Top athletes recommend sheer passion and determination as the best attributes to break the pain barrier.

If that’s not enough to get you through it, there are further psychological techniques that can help.

No fear

Embracing the pain is key – since if we attempt to avoid or minimise it we are simply putting off the inevitable, and a self-limiting approach built around a fear of pain will never allow us to excel as athletes. Find pleasure in the heart of the pain, and keep on burning.

Try to associate the feeling of pain with a positive thought process or feeling – remind yourself that as you experience the muscle burn it is a sign that you are progressing, that you are strong and determined in achieving your goals.

 

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