No pain, no gain is not the best approach.

I am going to continue with the injury theme from last week. I want to explore the common sentiment of, “No pain, no gain.” It is often said as a badge of honor between people suffering injuries in reference to continuing to exercise even though they are hurt.
I’m sure by now you know that I don’t agree with that approach, but today I want to look at pain and progress a little differently. Exercising through pain hurts, but it never hurts as much as resting when all you want to do is practice your sport. This is where the real pain comes from.
Interestingly, I find this is where the real “gain” comes from also. To me, there is no gain when someone continues to exercise through an injury. Usually, it just makes the injury worse. But when someone faces the pain of stopping and takes a much needed break, they learn a tremendous amount about character.
They learn about delayed gratification, facing adversity, facing the world alone, and the frustration that comes from not being able to do the things they love. All those new skills translate into passion and drive when they get back to the sport. A runner that has faced an injury won’t give up in a race when something goes wrong. They have practiced suffering and know how to fight through adversity.
Given the choice, I will always bet on someone that has come back from an injury to race again. They may not be the most talented, but they have more heart than anyone that has never struggled through an injury.
I think there is gain with pain. The pain is the suffering of not doing what you love, not continuing to injure yourself. The gain comes from the personal development that goes with saying no to something you love.
Heaven forbid you ever have to face an injury, but if you do, confront the real pain and reap the rewards that come with it.