Why do we enjoy suffering?

Today I woke up at 3 am and while I was getting ready to reach my 5 am flight to the location of my next Spartan Race (a type of obstacle run: http://spartan.com ) I was thinking why do I need this? Why do I put myself through this pain?

Spartan Race — World’s Toughest Race
Why ultra-marathoners run miles beyond imagination? Why do people go to ironman, swim through great distances, jump off of buildings, climb to unbearable heights?

Achievement

There is an undeniable satisfaction after completing what seemed to be impossible before

I did my first race a couple of months ago and while it wasn’t a particularly long one (the Sprint is between 5km and 10km with reasonable amount of obstacle) it took a big bite of me. I struggled through the last 200 meters with a crucifying calf cramp. I was barely able to walk not to run.

But I made it to the finish line where the staff was waiting for us with the finisher medal, a t-shirt and the usual refreshments. The pain was over… and some undescribable mixture of relief, happiness and pride replaced its place. I did it!

This is something that you cannot fake, you cannot buy it, you cannot borrow it. You either did it or didn’t.

Next week I signed up two more. One of that is what I’m just about to do. A 12+ km (I’ll probably write about how it went).

Purpose

Deloitte has done a survey on employee satisfaction and one they key finding was

Engage employees with meaningful work…or watch them walk out the door

In order to be motivated you need a goal. You need to know what you are working for.

You can be training for being healthy, fit or be able to play soccer with your kids when you’re older but you need something more tangible to keep you going and keep pushing your boundaries.

I’m training since I was 4 but since I stopped competing my trainings became more irregular, less challenging and definitely not progressive. Doing the same exercises, the same weigths, same distances week by week is great but can quickly turn into a boring burden.

Preparing for a specific event, a deadline gives your routine a purpose. You’re not just doing meaningless hours on the treadmill or lifting the weights to “look good on the beach”. You’re training for something you can measure black and white. You can measure progress, set weekly goals and enjoy even the slightest improvement.

And as a side effect you will look better on the beach … :)

Victory

This is not about being first or top ten even. This is about a far more profound victory:

“True victory is victory over oneself.”

Every extra mile, every new obstacle conquered, every second you’re running faster is a victory on its own. It’s a victory over yourself, the hardest opponent to compete against.

You will learn more about yourself than anywhere else when you’re fighting fatigue, pain, cold, mosquitoes and you don’t know how much is left. You just keep pushing until you reach the finish line. And you will know there. You won!


At the end of the day no matter what challenge you put yourself up to. Just start doing it, learn to love the pain and enjoy the results!

See you at the finish line … Aroo!