Where Do You Put The Pain?

An American College Professor and well know Ultra-Marathon runner by the name of David Horton said in a film made about one of his epic runs…… “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”.  I love this saying, as it typifies the long distance runner’s psyche.

Anyone that has made the decision to find out exactly how far their body will go if they push it, will know exactly what this saying means.

It’s true, pain IS inevitable. It will hurt; in fact it probably will hurt a lot. You will be faced with a number of decisions to make. Those decisions range from: Do I stop here and end the misery? Do I finish this task then avoid putting myself in this position again? Do I let the pain get to me and make me feel unworthy of a challenge such as this?

There is an alternative decision…. When the pain hits and you start to fall apart physically; make the decision to take the pain and own it. Accept that you are hurting and that getting to the end of this task is going to be difficult, but feel strong in the knowledge that each additional step forward is proof that you CAN keep going and that you need not SUFFER any longer. Suffering is a state of mind and one that you can choose or not choose.


Every time you put yourself in the position of having to push through your boundaries and through physical pain, you gain a greater and greater understanding of what is possible. There is great joy that comes from that achievement. Feel blessed in the knowledge that you have a strength that transcends pain. Feel fortunate that you even have a desire to want more from life than that which comes easy.


I feel extremely fortunate that I have had the opportunity to run a 100 mile race where everything went wrong. My body was broken and getting worse by the minute, but I was still able to finish the race, albeit in last place and 45 hours after I started with zero sleep along the way. On another occasion I ran for 5 days along a highway, 12hrs per day with a growing list of injuries that made each consecutive day harder and harder. Each day however, the suffering got less and less because I was discovering that my mind was stronger than my body. By the last day I couldn’t get the smile off my face.


Pain and suffering are two separate and unrelated things. Take the pain and own it. It is yours and you have earned it. Your ability to carry on in spite of it will bring your greater rewards than you might imagine.


Pain is inevitable… There is no suffering.


Shaun Brewster.

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