UltraMarathon Pain Management: The Pain Cave

by | Nov 20, 2018

What is your perspective on ultramarathon running? Adventurous and exhilarating? Calming and therapeutic? Full of pain and suffering?

Pain management has much to do with your perspective on running an ultramarathon.

What is your perspective?

Why do you run an ultramarathon?

This question, this question of purpose, is the answer to your ultramarathon pain management.

UltraRunning is unique in that it’s the incredible intersection of adventure, fitness, community, and mental toughness training. Ask any ultrarunner, wearing his Patagonia shorts and Nathan Vapor Krar hydration pack or her Altra Trail Shoes and Wicked Trail post-race tee, what he or she loves most about ultrarunning, and one of these will probably come up. In fact, I bet that person can’t pin down just one of these reasons he or she takes to the Wicked Trail.

That final point, the one of training mental toughness, is one ultrarunners don’t have to work too hard to experience; the Wicked Trail, any ultra-endurance event, will greatly test one’s mind.

It will test the one who ventures into the forest, up a rugged ridge, searching for the mountain top, searching for a Taller Peak.

We’re going to give you the tools to Go Farther, Run Faster, and Live Stronger.

All in ONE weekly email!
Sign up NOW to receive weekly posts!

 

The test is delivered in discomfort, fatigue, and the relentless expenditure of energy on a trail that never seems to end.

Discomfort –pain– must be managed if success is to be found.

Pain must be managed in the ultramarathon. Your mind must be managed in an ultra marathon.

Take from an ultramarathon the breathtaking mountaintop views, the lush forests, the warm community, and the inspiration of the other runners.

Take with you the joy of seeing your crew and the volunteers, the warmth of the overnight broth, and the ecstasy of the sunrise.

Take the beauty of the ultramarathon with you.

But don’t forget the adversity.

Take with you the pain, the fatigue, the fear, the trembling hands and shaky knees. Take the blisters and cuts and bruises of the Wicked Trail, that which climbs on into the mountains you love.

Use your ultramarathon as your own rejection of comfort, a testament to your culture; put yourself in a place of fatigue, distress, and vulnerability. Find where it starts to hurt. Explore the world beyond the hurt.

Preparation. This is your perspective on running the ultramarathon

Place yourself in the pit of pain, of adversity. The pain cave. It’s dark, there is a storm churning the sky, the trail is rugged and leads up a steep ridge, and your feet and bruised and beaten. Rains form mud beneath you. Feel it. Place yourself into your own pit of pain and adversity. The pain cave.

Learn to manage your pain.

Remember, I said pain must be managed if success is to be found.

What is success?

Earning the belt buckle?

Just making the cutoff?

Exploring your own iron will?

You’re down there in the pit of pain, of adversity. You’re in the pain cave.

Let your mind wander out and look back in at yourself. Your bruised and beaten feet sink into the mud. You scramble toward the light, only to be pulled back in. The damp cave echoes your heavy, fatigued breathing.

What do you see when you look back at yourself, struggling in the cave?

See the blood, the sweat, and the tears. The trials and failures and fear. You scramble toward the light, but are pulled back in. You fall down. Sitting in the mud of despair, all seems lost.

Welcome to the pain cave.

Your mind has wandered out; you are self-aware. You know where you are, this cave, and you understand the predicament: You continue to struggle toward the light of relief, of comfort, but cannot get a footing. You sink deeper into the mud. Count your blisters, cuts, and bruises.

Look at yourself. What do you want to yell out? Do you want to show yourself the way out? Do you want to drop a rope and pull yourself out of the mud of despair?

Do you want to quit?

No. Wait.

Remember why you first came here. You entered this cave for a reason.

Why are you running the ultramarathon?

Look around you; you’re not the only one watching yourself in the struggles of the cave, this pain cave. Standing around the mouth of the cave are your friends and family and the volunteers and spectators who came to watch; your children, parents, siblings, coworkers, and friends are watching!

What do they see?

Certainly they see you scramble about the cave. They see the mud, the water, the treachery. They see your blisters and cuts and bruises. They see the adversity.

But do they also see an iron will and mentality forged by extreme conditions? A body capable of much more than what seems possible? Do they see indomitable character?

Or do they see self-pity and a deterioration of will, embers stifled by the rain and wind, by the cold cave?

Don’t call out to them “Help! I’m in the pain cave. I can’t find a way out. Throw me a rope! It’s cold and dark in here!”

Steady your voice. Change your perspective.

“I’ll find my way out. I’m exploring this cave. I’ll learn its passageways. I’ll trip over rocks and roots, sure, but I’ll understand its layout. I’ll find my way out.”

Welcome to the pain cave.

What will they say about you? What will they take away from your example?

You see, when you put yourself down in the pain cave, the pit of adversity, and expose yourself to extreme conditions and physical toil, you’re setting an example for those watching. An example of adventure, and experience, one of fortitude and perseverance.

Let your mind rejoin your body; explore the pit. Explore all the roots and boulders, its stalagmites and rocky ledges. That’s what ultra running is: Familiarization. Placing ourselves in the pain cave, the pit of adversity, is a way to become familiar with what is to come upon our return to society, our return from the trails and mountains.

You see, life will not be kind to you. At any moment you are subject to crippling disease, death, heartbreak, mental degeneration, complete loss of comfort, violence, oppression, and rejection.

Familiarize yourself with discomfort. Prepare for these and remember who is watching: yourself and those you interact with daily. You came here to find out what you’re made of and now you get a front row seat to the show, to the cave.

Take a new perspective on the pain of ultramarathon running; allow your mind to wander out and see your actions on the trail, in this cave. Explore it. Align your life with discomfort and set an example for those around you. The ones who, aligned with the culture of the common man, say “I could never do that” or “Be realistic” or “I’m comfortable here.

Be a shining light in the darkness of complacency.

Take a new perspective on the pain of ultramarathon running.

This is pain management. This is a fulfillment of the purpose of pain. It’s not supposed to be easy. You are meant for this moment, this moment of pain and fear and hopelessness.

Dismantle The Wall, explore the pain cave, and inspire others to do the same.

This is how the Wicked Trail Runner, one who rejects comfort and lives as his or her own culture, manages pain…

Stay on the Wicked Trail.

trail-running-perspective-text-photo-quote
Written by: George C.

Written by: George C.

Writer, Wicked Trail Running

When he's not running with his Cattle Dog, Cowboy, in Raleigh, North Carolina, George likes to kick back and keep the content on Wicked Trail Running fresh and engaging. He's got a few Ultras coming up in 2019, so if you need to get in touch with him, the local parks and greenways around Raleigh are a good place to start looking.

He really doesn't like cooking, so if you've got any quick vegan smoothie ideas or recipes, shoot an email to george@wickedtrailrunning.com. He also enjoys talking about running, mental toughness, and the art of mindset alteration.

Follow George on Instagram @georgecarterc!

Book of the Month:

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds is a dive into the demons that plagued David Goggins -elite ultra endurance athlete and Navy SEAL- through his early life and an exploration of what it took for him to become a master of his own mind against all statistical odds. His tools for mental stimulation and growth are useful for anyone interested in venturing into endurance sports, becoming a better person, and mastering his or her mind. A must read!

Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

Ultra marathon running isn't about winning, unless it is. Ultra marathon running is subjective; a person's journey through the darkness, down the Wicked Trail, is driven by his or her own passions, fears, and desires. This journey into pain is driven by his or her own...

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Most people running their first, or second, or third ultra marathon carry expectations into the race. They had training expectations; they planned the miles and hours they'd have to train, running and strengthening and stretching their way to ultra endurance. When...

Fasted Running Is Your Best Friend: 3 Reasons To Try It

For thirteen miles, I felt invincible. For the final three, I wasn't sure I'd finish. I felt like I did near the end of my first 100 mile race, although with much less lower body-body pain. It was an ultra marathon replication. I smiled during those long, arduous...

The Best Ultra Marathons: Is Yours On The List?

"What's the best ultra marathon?" Is it the most remote or adventurous like Marathon des Sables, the most challenging like Badwater or the H.U.R.T 100, or is it simply your first 100 miler, the one that breaks you into the world of ultra-endurance? Is it the race that...

Ultra Marathon DNF: Yes, You Failed. Yes, It’s Okay.

I was perusing some online ultramarathon running groups last weekend and came across a post about DNFs in ultrarunning. DNF stands for "Did Not Finish;" the participants name is not published and no belt buckle is awarded. The DNF is dreaded by many as hot-spots and...

“Find the Time” to Train for Your UltraMarathon

"I'd love to sign up for an ultra marathon! I just can't find the time to train or be away from my responsibilities. It's just not for someone like me." Find the time.  Where are you looking for time? Early in the mornings and late at night? Around lunch? Anywhere you...

share this post

UltraMarathon Pain Management: The Pain Cave

by | Nov 20, 2018

What is your perspective on ultramarathon running? Adventurous and exhilarating? Calming and therapeutic? Full of pain and suffering?

Pain management has much to do with your perspective on running an ultramarathon.

What is your perspective?

Why do you run an ultramarathon?

This question, this question of purpose, is the answer to your ultramarathon pain management.

We’re going to give you the tools to Go Farther, Run Faster, and Live Stronger.

All in ONE weekly email!
Sign up NOW to receive weekly posts!

 

UltraRunning is unique in that it’s the incredible intersection of adventure, fitness, community, and mental toughness training. Ask any ultrarunner, wearing his Patagonia shorts and Nathan Vapor Krar hydration pack or her Altra Trail Shoes and Wicked Trail post-race tee, what he or she loves most about ultrarunning, and one of these will probably come up. In fact, I bet that person can’t pin down just one of these reasons he or she takes to the Wicked Trail.

That final point, the one of training mental toughness, is one ultrarunners don’t have to work too hard to experience; the Wicked Trail, any ultra-endurance event, will greatly test one’s mind.

It will test the one who ventures into the forest, up a rugged ridge, searching for the mountain top, searching for a Taller Peak.

The test is delivered in discomfort, fatigue, and the relentless expenditure of energy on a trail that never seems to end.

Discomfort –pain– must be managed if success is to be found.

Pain must be managed in the ultramarathon. Your mind must be managed in an ultra marathon.

Take from an ultramarathon the breathtaking mountaintop views, the lush forests, the warm community, and the inspiration of the other runners.

Take with you the joy of seeing your crew and the volunteers, the warmth of the overnight broth, and the ecstasy of the sunrise.

Take the beauty of the ultramarathon with you.

But don’t forget the adversity.

Take with you the pain, the fatigue, the fear, the trembling hands and shaky knees. Take the blisters and cuts and bruises of the Wicked Trail, that which climbs on into the mountains you love.

Use your ultramarathon as your own rejection of comfort, a testament to your culture; put yourself in a place of fatigue, distress, and vulnerability. Find where it starts to hurt. Explore the world beyond the hurt.

Preparation. This is your perspective on running the ultramarathon

Place yourself in the pit of pain, of adversity. The pain cave. It’s dark, there is a storm churning the sky, the trail is rugged and leads up a steep ridge, and your feet and bruised and beaten. Rains form mud beneath you. Feel it. Place yourself into your own pit of pain and adversity. The pain cave.

Learn to manage your pain.

Remember, I said pain must be managed if success is to be found.

What is success?

Earning the belt buckle?

Just making the cutoff?

Exploring your own iron will?

You’re down there in the pit of pain, of adversity. You’re in the pain cave.

Let your mind wander out and look back in at yourself. Your bruised and beaten feet sink into the mud. You scramble toward the light, only to be pulled back in. The damp cave echoes your heavy, fatigued breathing.

What do you see when you look back at yourself, struggling in the cave?

See the blood, the sweat, and the tears. The trials and failures and fear. You scramble toward the light, but are pulled back in. You fall down. Sitting in the mud of despair, all seems lost.

Welcome to the pain cave.

Your mind has wandered out; you are self-aware. You know where you are, this cave, and you understand the predicament: You continue to struggle toward the light of relief, of comfort, but cannot get a footing. You sink deeper into the mud. Count your blisters, cuts, and bruises.

Look at yourself. What do you want to yell out? Do you want to show yourself the way out? Do you want to drop a rope and pull yourself out of the mud of despair?

Do you want to quit?

No. Wait.

Remember why you first came here. You entered this cave for a reason.

Why are you running the ultramarathon?

Look around you; you’re not the only one watching yourself in the struggles of the cave, this pain cave. Standing around the mouth of the cave are your friends and family and the volunteers and spectators who came to watch; your children, parents, siblings, coworkers, and friends are watching!

What do they see?

Certainly they see you scramble about the cave. They see the mud, the water, the treachery. They see your blisters and cuts and bruises. They see the adversity.

But do they also see an iron will and mentality forged by extreme conditions? A body capable of much more than what seems possible? Do they see indomitable character?

Or do they see self-pity and a deterioration of will, embers stifled by the rain and wind, by the cold cave?

Don’t call out to them “Help! I’m in the pain cave. I can’t find a way out. Throw me a rope! It’s cold and dark in here!”

Steady your voice. Change your perspective.

“I’ll find my way out. I’m exploring this cave. I’ll learn its passageways. I’ll trip over rocks and roots, sure, but I’ll understand its layout. I’ll find my way out.”

Welcome to the pain cave.

What will they say about you? What will they take away from your example?

You see, when you put yourself down in the pain cave, the pit of adversity, and expose yourself to extreme conditions and physical toil, you’re setting an example for those watching. An example of adventure, and experience, one of fortitude and perseverance.

Let your mind rejoin your body; explore the pit. Explore all the roots and boulders, its stalagmites and rocky ledges. That’s what ultra running is: Familiarization. Placing ourselves in the pain cave, the pit of adversity, is a way to become familiar with what is to come upon our return to society, our return from the trails and mountains.

You see, life will not be kind to you. At any moment you are subject to crippling disease, death, heartbreak, mental degeneration, complete loss of comfort, violence, oppression, and rejection.

Familiarize yourself with discomfort. Prepare for these and remember who is watching: yourself and those you interact with daily. You came here to find out what you’re made of and now you get a front row seat to the show, to the cave.

Take a new perspective on the pain of ultramarathon running; allow your mind to wander out and see your actions on the trail, in this cave. Explore it. Align your life with discomfort and set an example for those around you. The ones who, aligned with the culture of the common man, say “I could never do that” or “Be realistic” or “I’m comfortable here.

Be a shining light in the darkness of complacency.

Take a new perspective on the pain of ultramarathon running.

This is pain management. This is a fulfillment of the purpose of pain. It’s not supposed to be easy. You are meant for this moment, this moment of pain and fear and hopelessness.

Dismantle The Wall, explore the pain cave, and inspire others to do the same.

This is how the Wicked Trail Runner, one who rejects comfort and lives as his or her own culture, manages pain…

Stay on the Wicked Trail.

Written by: George C.

Written by: George C.

Writer, Wicked Trail Running

When he's not running with his Cattle Dog, Cowboy, in Raleigh, North Carolina, George likes to kick back and keep the content on Wicked Trail Running fresh and engaging. He's got a few Ultras coming up in 2019, so if you need to get in touch with him, the local parks and greenways around Raleigh are a good place to start looking.

He really doesn't like cooking, so if you've got any quick vegan smoothie ideas or recipes, shoot an email to george@wickedtrailrunning.com. He also enjoys talking about running, mental toughness, and the art of mindset alteration.

Follow George on Instagram @georgecarterc!

Book of the Month:

Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds is a dive into the demons that plagued David Goggins -elite ultra endurance athlete and Navy SEAL- through his early life and an exploration of what it took for him to become a master of his own mind against all statistical odds. His tools for mental stimulation and growth are useful for anyone interested in venturing into endurance sports, becoming a better person, and mastering his or her mind. A must read!

Light 2 Light 50 Race Report: First Ultra Marathon Victory

Ultra marathon running isn't about winning, unless it is. Ultra marathon running is subjective; a person's journey through the darkness, down the Wicked Trail, is driven by his or her own passions, fears, and desires. This journey into pain is driven by his or her own...

Ultra Marathon Training: Crush Expectations

Most people running their first, or second, or third ultra marathon carry expectations into the race. They had training expectations; they planned the miles and hours they'd have to train, running and strengthening and stretching their way to ultra endurance. When...

Fasted Running Is Your Best Friend: 3 Reasons To Try It

For thirteen miles, I felt invincible. For the final three, I wasn't sure I'd finish. I felt like I did near the end of my first 100 mile race, although with much less lower body-body pain. It was an ultra marathon replication. I smiled during those long, arduous...

The Best Ultra Marathons: Is Yours On The List?

"What's the best ultra marathon?" Is it the most remote or adventurous like Marathon des Sables, the most challenging like Badwater or the H.U.R.T 100, or is it simply your first 100 miler, the one that breaks you into the world of ultra-endurance? Is it the race that...

Ultra Marathon DNF: Yes, You Failed. Yes, It’s Okay.

I was perusing some online ultramarathon running groups last weekend and came across a post about DNFs in ultrarunning. DNF stands for "Did Not Finish;" the participants name is not published and no belt buckle is awarded. The DNF is dreaded by many as hot-spots and...

“Find the Time” to Train for Your UltraMarathon

"I'd love to sign up for an ultra marathon! I just can't find the time to train or be away from my responsibilities. It's just not for someone like me." Find the time.  Where are you looking for time? Early in the mornings and late at night? Around lunch? Anywhere you...

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