Are You Tough Because You Race or Do You Race Because You’re Tough?
|October 10, 2013||Posted by The Fit Scoop under Uncategorized|
A study in the aptly titled journal Pain reported earlier this year that triathletes have higher pain tolerance than their fit but non-athlete counterparts.
The study found similar pain thresholds for both the triathletes and the controls, but discovered that triathletes have a significantly higher pain tolerance than the recreational exercisers. This probably isn’t a surprise to triathletes since anyone who has raced a triathlon understands that it requires the ability to withstand significant discomfort for a relatively long period of time. However, it raises the question as to whether triathletes (and other endurance athletes) are born or made. Are individuals with higher innate pain tolerances drawn to endurance sports, or does the training required to race endurance events teach the body to tolerate pain better? The lead researcher attributes the better pain tolerance to physiological and psychological factors, but unfortunately does not know whether these factors are innate or acquired.
The study makes me think of the related topic: different pain tolerances among endurance athletes. Are “fast” athletes faster than other athletes because they can tolerate pain better? Among the elites, does the winner win because they have a higher pain tolerance? Among amateurs, is your PR potential dependent upon an innate pain tolerance? I always find it interesting to read race recaps from other bloggers, especially how they describe the discomfort of racing. Some people describe feeling discomfort at levels I’ve never been able to push myself to, and it makes me wonder whether their ability to withstand such pain is innate or trained. I’ll admit I’m rather interested in the topic of pain at the moment considering I’ll be giving birth in about a month. I’ve done several triathlons in the past – does that mean I have a higher pain tolerance? Keeping my fingers crossed that I do!