Pain and/or Gain

When Al Gore invented the internet* he didn’t plan on it being the greatest source of information and misinformation in the world.  It takes a few moments of searching for the NSA Googlez to find anything you damn please.  Quality information about exercise is everywhere, but we don’t seek out sources that have academic reputation; we turn to our friends and ask them.  We do this with everything.

On the Viralnomics website, Jon Goodman has discussed selective representation, and how we create an online persona that’s biased compared to what happens when we’re outside of the Matrix.  For example, we post about our great workouts, not about our bad ones, or if we skipped a day.  I had a tire blow out on the way to work the other day; you didn’t see that on my Tweeter account.  We tend to post the good things, not the bad.

If that’s the case, then Why in all hell do we post this shit?!

934621_341354015968036_1161457110_nIt’s a rhetorical question; I know why we post it.  We just did something hard and want to #humblebrag to our friends, or we’re providing a little motivation to ourselves.  If you’ve shaved it via social media, then you’re going to want to follow through.  It’s Facebook Official.

My problem with the shares of the picture above (as a generic example) is that we too often promote quantity over quality.  Do more, do more, do more, do more, do more.  And with the crunches above, jogging, and CrossFit as easy-to-use examples, doing more is rarely going to be better.  When I see these examples in my news feed, my stock reaction is as such:


It’s not that hard work is bad.  Hard work is awesome.  Thing is, I will rarely question work ethic, but I’ll frequently question  the application of said work ethic.  Don’t use it just for the sake of using it.  Use it to facilitate a meaningful change.

I’m an example.  I hate jogging.  I have two speeds; walking and full out ass-hauling sprint.  I’d prefer if you did not ask me to jog.  However, if you did ask, I probably wouldn’t go out and zoom through a 10k at anaerobic threshold, and I would ask to run on some sort of grass, dirt, or gravel path.  On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you’re a long-time runner and want to use strength training to get better, testing your 3RM box squat on day 1 isn’t a good idea.  It will hurt.

But that’s what we love.  We like pain.  We appreciate, “Hey, this sucks while I’m doing it, this is going to suck tomorrow, and on Day 3, Milo created DOMS.”  However, Pain doesn’t always equal Gain.  I’d say that it’s Pain and/or Gain, and “or” beats out “and” most of the time.

There are times that going full-bore is necessary, required, or mandatory.  If you’re competing in something, go kick some ass.  You don’t have time to think about your breathing, anterior pelvic tilt, or cervical flexion.  (Even if they all may be related.)  Let me ask, “What are you competing it?”

You’re probably not, at least not at the moment.  You will one day soon, but right now you are practicing.  Your goal is to get better at something, be it a fitness goal or a personal goal.  There’s a time to keep going when it hurts.  Training is probably not that time.


I need you to reflect.  I need you to think.  That’s my actionable goal for you:  Reflect on your current exercise regime.  When do you do something just for the sake of it?  What are you doing because your friend did it, not because it’s working?  I want to appeal to your critical thinker.  The You that wants to work smarter before you work harder.  The You that wants to become better, stronger, so that you may help others be better.

Where in your current training to you keep going even when it hurts or doesn’t work?  How can you improve on that?

*Citation Needed

4 Replies to “Pain and/or Gain”

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