No pain - no gain - no motivational cliche

"No pain - no gain" is a half-truth.

"Pain is weakness leaving the body," is dead wrong.

Suffering an injury when you're on the brink of a major challenge or p.r. is like picking Mr. Peppermint when you've just cleared the Molasses Swamp. But maybe if we combine the two oft quoted but false sayings we'll come out with something semi useful.

"Pain is weakness leaving the body - no gain." Or something like that.

While I don't often seriously utter motivational quotes, this mish-mash may be on target. What people are usually trying to convey is the value of toughening up mentally and physically. They're reminding us that there's no reward without intention, grit, and usually plain old suffering.

And it's the regular and disciplined practice of intention and grit that helps mold who you are, what you do, and how you respond to life above and beyond the gym or athletic field.

No, really, check THIS out. Also this.

[And yet all good things can easily be taken to unhealthy extremes. I believe there is more to living than the mechanical and biological...]

Compared to everyday existence, purposeful exercise is physically uncomfortable and mentally irritating. But those are some of the things we need most in our relatively comfortable society.

Name something that...

provides genuine physical and mental benefits
with a regular opportunity to take on challenge and risk
in a relatively safe but real environment
with parameters that you do realistically have some degree of control over?

Now how do you obtain the full dose of physical activity while minimizing the risk?

1. Smart programming. Study up so you know what you're doing or find someone who does.

2. Let gradual, process-focused progression be your guide. When we want results yesterday, we miss the value and built-in safety mechanisms of the ride.We do too much too soon and something suffers.

3. Watch the extremes: dead lifting your body weight for many reps with ease = good. Dead lifting triple body weight for one rep = risk. 5 K for faster time = good. Completing five marathons - risk.
Risk is fine if you're aware of what you're getting into.

4. Smart programming: Some degree of variety helps hold your interest and keeps you from over-training any one area or component of fitness. But too much variety never allows you to know where you stand in terms of truly facing limits. Doing too much at once often leaves you spinning your wheels due to incompatible goals (like improving both strength and running endurance). Think in terms of months and years not days and weeks. Set a goal and stick with it for a while. 

You don't have to destroy yourself with effort and injury in order to enjoy the plethora of "gain" associated with physical activity. The process need not require much time or expense. But the practice of discipline is a must, and that's never easy. Feeding your system relatively controlled doses of discomfort is absolutely good for us on a number of levels. The key is discovering the zone where you actually find joy in it.

"No hurries. No short-cuts."

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