After every race, I always ask myself, "Did you go hard enough? Do you have too much left in the tank?" Mind you, this thought is for A races, the races I either want to PR or come as close as possible. If I feel as though I could keep running or am not fairly exhausted after a tough effort, I know, it wasn't tough enough and I didn't get to the right level of hurt.
This is what elite and pro athletes do at every race. It's easy to watch pro's and think, "It must not hurt them as much as it hurts me." This thinking is a load of crap. It hurts just as bad but they have learned to ignore it better and for a longer period of time. And as the saying goes, they embrace the suck.
I have seen myself in more than one race, back off too much, I'll admit it. I did not push hard enough because I didn't want it to hurt. I would get close to holding a very painful pace and I'd just give up. My mind knows what's coming. PAIN. I know it, and I slow down. We humans aren't predisposed to endure pain. We have a headache, we take an aspirin. We start to hurt during a race or workout and we make excuses.
"I can't run that fast."
"My legs just aren't strong enough."
"I'm too tired."
Bull crap. Stop with all the excuses. I know the difference between actual exhaustion and being a pain chicken. Yes, that's right. A pain chicken. That's trademarked. ;)
I know I'm not alone on this as I've seen friends and fellow athletes do the same thing when I know good and well they've got more to give. Think of this post as a little tough love. I'm going to use it on myself too.
In almost every article I read about pro athletes they have something that helps them get past the pain. No, not drugs. (Well not drugs in most cases. Ahem, several TdF winners.) It's usually a motto or phrase that helps them stay focused on their goal, and not their pain. My favorite is one I learned from a cyclist friend, Casey, who told me about the German cyclist Jens Voight. He literally tells his body to shut up, specifically his legs. His catchphrase, "SHUT UP LEGS!" (This article is an awesome homage to Jensie.)
Ok, but they are still pro's right? They are more inclined to push past the pain then us average joe's, right? Well, probably. But, the good news is that in my very small amount of google researching, I've learned there are ways to improve this pain thresh hold and they don't include walking on coals or taking punches to the gut.
Since I am working on this whole pushing past the pain stuff with you guys, I'll show you the articles I've found that offer some great advice and tips on how to increase your pain tolerance.
I hope these help. Now get to work!