Embrace the Suck

This is something that I’ve gotten from Adventure racers, Adrenalin junkies, and CrossFitters. There are sports and activities that we can do that are fun. But the real fun is getting into the pain zone. For the uninitiated, that sounds like the worst thing ever. But for the crazy athletes who like to drop themselves in a pit only to find a way to scrape and claw their way out of it, that’s the thrill of it all. Its a great feeling of accomplishment.

Now, what most people are thinking of is the physical aspect. What does your body have to go through to prepare for the challenge? Yes, that’s part of it. You want to set yourself up for success and not failure. Its more of a mental game than physical. You need to actually put yourself in the pain cave daily and get accustomed to it. You need to make friends with it.

Embrace the Suck!

But I even see this to some extent in my yoga classes. And I’ve felt it myself in yoga. I often say to yogis "you shouldn’t feel pain in yoga, just a lot of discomfort". So for such a mind-body, non-competitive, seemingly soothing physical activity, yoga can always take us to that uncomfortable feeling. I see people in my Rocket Yoga classes sneaking in a child pose when they can. And then I put them in the next pose. Non-competitive is true, but when you see others around you in their practice, you feel you should stand up and get into the pose.

Something that I may have mentioned before is a common practice for me. I often mix my workouts with Yoga. This is how it feels.

The countdown timer starts to beep and your heart is already at 80% of your target pulse. You anticipate grabbing the bar and lifting. You feel super strong and you try to find a groove that won’t wear you out. Once you lift the bar, you don’t want to drop it. It takes more energy to get it back into position again. So you go unbroken for your first set. Then off to the next exercise. You still feel strong and you’re moving fast. If its a skill movement, you’re concentrating on efficiency in your form so you won’t fall out of position. Then the next exercise starts to get at you. You can feel the lactate creeping up to higher levels. Then….you’re finished! Awww not yet. You have 4 more rounds of this. The wheels probably fall off a couple times. But you find that zombie state in the pain cave. Your body screams but your face is calm. Last round. Your body and mind are toast. But you actually speed up rather than slow down. You know the pain is only going to be there for another minute. You can handle a little more pain. It will all be over soon. Now you finish. You collapse on the floor, but the pain isn’t over. There’s about 5 seconds where you feel numb. But then the next 30 seconds, it all creeps in on you. The pain is the most intense here. Much more than the workout itself. That’s when I pop into Pincha (forearm stand). What can you do when you are at your lowest point? That’s where you grow your mind.

Embrace the Suck!

Maybe not to the same extent, but yoga can be like this. Especially, Rocket yoga. Fortunately, like Ashtanga, people know the sequence. They know they can last through the last Prasarita Padottanasana. But then middle splits and splits follow. Its that long sequence of standing poses on one side followed by Pincha Mayurasana. That’s what gets you. How do you do something strong and technical when you’re tired? That’s the key.

So I Embrace the Suck. I do a WOD and am totally in pain. Then go straight to Pincha, or crow, or some other pose that takes strength, balance, and focus. You can do this in many ways. Run a hard 5 miler and then hold plank for 2 minutes at the end. Its what builds the mind. A strong mind keeps your will to fight.

Embrace the Suck!

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