Watching the Hawaii Ironman World Championships unfold last Saturday, I was struck by the pain on Frodeno’s face in the final miles as he ran to a two-peat victory. He was suffering! Frodeno later stated that he had never hurt so badly in a race.
It was not that Frodeno didn’t properly prepare for the race – he most certainly did. It was that he was going deep into his pain cave to finish as fast as possible and ultimately win. You see, as we get faster, it does not get easier; and oftentimes, it gets harder as we learn how to push ourselves more. We still have to suffer, we just get to do it over faster speeds. Frodeno could have quite possibly been working harder than anyone else over those final few miles of the marathon – his years of preparations had taught him how to go deeper than most can fathom.
I think this is a big misconception in endurance sports but also what makes them so special. On any given race day, you will find professionals and amateurs together on the same course digging deep to meet their personal goals. It does not matter whether the goal is winning overall or finishing the race, they both require us to dig deep.