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Is Suffering Inevitable in CrossFit?

Pain Is Inevitable; Suffering Is Optional. When in the middle of a CrossFit workout, juggling with a bar, a wall-ball, the timer ticking, and the coach instructing to keep moving, at that precise moment, there seems so be two kinds of scenarios. We either zone out and keep moving, or we pause, with what feels like an intense feeling of pain submerging our entire body, begging our mind to stop. If the way we perceive pain does not necessarily correlate with its intensity, can we avoid suffering altogether in a wod?   Is pain physiological or emotional? According to Moseley and Butler authors of Explain pain: ‘Pain protects you, it alerts you to danger, often before you are injured or injured badly.’ The message of danger moves along the spinal cord to the brain, positively charging particles to rush in neurons. But the two experts also claim that: ‘If the brain thinks that experiencing pain is not the best thing for your survival (…) you won’t experience pain no matter how serious the injury is.’ Which means that Crossfitters could have the choice to suffer or not when pain arises.   We do chose to suffer? image 131If we understood better why the body reacts the way it does to an outside threat or as a result of an injury, we could alleviate suffering in some specific instances. When we are half way through a workout and a burning sensation occurs in our quads, how do we experience this reality? If we were aware that muscles are probably the last components of our bodies to get injured because of their stretchy structure and their effective blood supply then we would understand that what is most likely to occur during an intense workout like a metcon is the ‘build-up of lactic acid which makes the alarm bells ring’. It seems that it is our reaction which triggers suffering. If our response is emotional then perhaps there are methods to learn on how to react to the specific scenario of a CrossFit workout.   Easing the mind to discomfort image 066We can train our minds to increase tolerance to suffering and step by step become familiar with it. Tom Foxley, mindset coach suggests in How to suffer skillfully for better performance blog that we get on an Intensity Inoculation course. ‘To take the smallest of steps into intensity before falling back behind the safety barrier of familiarity where your subconscious will process your prior experience of discomfort.’ According to Foxley, instead of ending the workout at the time cap or when the reps are done, we should keep moving until reaching muscle failure. Outside the gym, listening to our language when we are having a bad day or getting physically uncomfortable (cold, wet, or warm) could be the first step to removing suffering and accepting pain.   Would it tranGuerilla Fitness in life in general? When the brain receives alerts, it sorts the information before sending back a message ordering the response. It will among other processes, run through previous similar events. It therefore makes sense that the more we experiment with discomfort and develop the positive language that goes along with it, the more we are likely to handle pain in comparable situations. Tamara Akcay

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