“Are You Hurt or Are You Injured?”

jamescaan“Are You Hurt or Are you Injured”—James Caan—The Program (1993)

I don’t want anyone left out of the loop, so I’ll let those of you who don’t know the title quote in on a secret…If you haven’t seen the 1993 football classic “The Program”, you’re missing out! James Caan plays a high profile

college football coach in the film. At one point, a freshman goes down in his first college-level practice after being ceremoniously welcomed to the team with a vicious hit. He lays on the ground motionless for a while and his coach calmly approaches him and asks “Are you hurt or are you injured?” The recruit is confused and his coach offers this explanation: “If you’re hurt, you can still play but if you’re injured, you can’t”.

When I think about completing an Ironman, the first thought that goes through my head is: “This is going to be awesome to check off my bucket list!” Followed quickly by: “Yep! It’s gonna hurt like hell!” Pain, both physical and mental, will be something I have to deal with while training and during the race. If all goes to plan, the hope is, just like any athlete, the pain will be the hurt kind and not the kind that shall not be named (see title J).

How will I overcome pain?

My focus with be on the following idea: I know I’ve done some very painful things in the past and have always come out on the other side. Typically, I’ve been fortunate enough to be better off than I was before the pain happened, too! Weird! This is important on (at least) three counts:

  • It can simply serve as a great positive self-talk strategy. If research shows over and over again that positive self-talk can improve confidence and prevent sickness and even infectious diseases, it’ll do me some good to pull from this strategy whenever I can. Pain is no exception.
  • The strength of my self-efficacy (the belief that one can perform XYZ) is strongly rooted in my past experiences of overcoming pain;
  • Many research psychologists have determined that the acknowledgement of pain, past or present, can actually help to reduce the intensity of the pain. It is theorized that by one personally acknowledging the presence of pain and/or receiving someone else’s acknowledgement of their pain causes an increase in neuronal connections in the brain. The increase of neuronal connections typically allows the person to be more adaptive.

So basically, I’m going to benefit from practicing the following: “Alex, you’re in pain, pain has never been fun, but this kind of pain is absolutely worth it!” and I could also try Winston Churchill’s timeless quote “If you’re going through hell, keep going”. I’ll go with whatever works best in the moment. In doing so, I’ll be much more equipped to take on the training and the race.

Until next time everybody!

If you have questions or requests for future blogs, please feel free to write them into the comment section. 🙂



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