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How to embrace the Pain Cave

NOV 24, 2023

Minute 1: Suffer better, run faster

In Buddhist teachings, it’s said that fundamentally, life is suffering. Whether you are a follower of the wandering ascetic from South Asia or not, you may believe that logging miles on your feet inevitably involves some pain. If you’ve got any race experience, you’ll know that suffering is just part of the process when chasing a strong performance. That’s why some coaches teach their athletes: “How to get better at embracing the suck.” To run faster, you don’t need to reduce your pain, but rather, adopt strategies to cope with it. One technique is called segmentation, in which you frame a race in smaller, more achievable chunks of the whole. Instead of embracing the fact that you’re going to be hurting for several miles, just focus on the mile or the 1/2 mile ahead. Making an effort to congratulate yourself with each segment completed can give you a dopamine boost, pushing you deeper “Inside the Pain Cave.” With a name like that, we’d understand if you weren’t eager to visit this destination, but for Ultrarunning legend Courtney Dauwalter, the pain cave is exactly where she wants to be. She says that during tough races, she literally imagines a physical location she enters, and it’s a place where the longer you stay, the stronger you become. Becoming comfortable with discomfort is a superpower for some runners, but it’s important to recognize the difference between good and bad “Running Pain: Should You Keep Running Through It?” Generally speaking, if a pain is sharp and sudden, gets worse throughout the course of an activity, and affects your life beyond your running, it's the sort of pain that you need to stop and take care of.

Minute 2: Top 10 Black Friday deals for runners

For 360 days per year, we buy our new running gear at a couple of nearby specialty run shops. On occasions like Black Friday and Amazon Prime Days, however, the deals are just too good to pass up. Continuing a tradition of the past few years, we have scoured the interwebs to produce our list of the “Top 10 Black Friday Deals for Runners.” Today and rolling into Cyber Monday, you can find good values from top brands like Apple, Therabody, Lagoon, and Bombas. The Running Event, the largest trade group for the running industry, considered more than 12,500 nominations for its prestigious list of the 2023 Best Running Stores award. If you don’t see one of your local shops on that list, previous winners of this industry award are listed here. Until you venture forth to visit one of these shops, enjoy some leftovers on the couch and do some shopping with your thumbs from our list of the “Top 10 Black Friday Deals for Runners.”

Minute 3: Strike a balance between stability and explosivity

As runners, we value long slow distance (LSD) as much as Timothy Leary loved lysergic acid diethylamide (the other LSD). Racking up miles during Sunday long runs can clear out some headspace while also prepping us for upcoming races. That being said, we also understand how effective training for explosivity can be – even for marathoners. It can improve your efficiency, top speed, and durability, which is why you should consider: “Plyometrics for Trail and Ultra Runners.” Training plyometrics increases your body’s capacity to take on the stresses of trail and distance running, says Dr. Jesse Rile. Squat jumps, lunge jumps, single leg hops, and jump rope are all effective ways to engage in plyo. Once you’ve built up your explosivity, you can then work on stability with yoga. Think of it as the peaceful yin to your explosive yang in training, and these “4 yoga poses to build core strength you can do anywhere” are a solid place to start. The core is composed of your abdominals, the muscles in your lower back, pelvis, and hips, which all work in tandem to support your spine. That’s vital for maintaining proper form, especially on long runs and challenging trail runs. Yoga may be all about finding your inner peace, but over time, it can turn you into quite the warrior, as in: “The 5 Warrior Poses of Yoga.”


Minute 4: Brian Metzler's take on Black Friday

Last week, Brian Metzler, contributed a thoughtful essay in this space: “5 Ways to be Inspired About Running During the Holiday Season.” Brian follows up his thoughts on the “why” of running, with an overview today of “why you should love” Black Friday bargains on running gear. Like us, Brian is a passionate advocate for local running shops who also recognizes the ease and potential savings of shopping online. A few highlights of Brian’s Black Friday approach are below, but for his full take, check it out on our website.

‘Tis the season to start thinking about next year’s running goals. But before 2024 rolls around, it’s time to collect some Black Friday deals. If you’re a runner looking for shoes and gear, I would highly recommend visiting your local specialty running store. Your neighborhood shop probably has its own Black Friday deals as it tries to clear out a lot of 2023 shoes at a discount, not to mention special deals set up for Small Business Saturday.

The best thing about visiting your local running store is that you’ll gain so much more than a transactional moment of buying shoes at a discount. You’ll not only get expert shoe-fitting service, but you’ll also be inspired by seeing other local runners buying shoes and overhear them talking about their running goals. You’ll likely engage with people in your local running community, get motivated to begin a training program, learn about the store’s weekly fun runs, and so much more. Local running shops are still the lifeblood of running, both as a sport and as a community-oriented activity.

When it comes to Black Friday deals, if you plan on shopping from your keyboard, your first online stop should be at RunningWarehouse. This well-stocked running shop has been offering great deals on shoes during its Black Friday Week sale that began last weekend. A quick search turned up a $150 discount on a Garmin Forerunner 245 GPS watch, 25 percent off all Saucony shoes and apparel, $50 off select colors of the Nike Streakfly and several high-quality shoes available for less than $100.

Every runner knows the best running headphones are made by Shokz and if you sign up for the brand’s email newsletters on Friday, you can get 30% off a new pair of wireless Open Run ($90) or Open Run Pro ($125) models.

Nike has a lot of great running gear at a discount, both in its closeouts section and via its Black Friday promotion. (Use code: BlackFriday to get an extra 25% off already reduced items!) Tracksmith is having a sitewide sale with up to 40% off, but if you use HARVEST20 at checkout you can get an additional 20% off. Also, The Harrier, a running-inspired casual brand of clothing that launched in 2020, is closing its doors for good on Dec. 10, so it’s blowing out its final inventory this weekend.

For Brian’s full perspective on holiday shopping for runners, check it out here.

Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Have you ever done a run that was so nice, you wanted to live it twice? Well, we’ve got good news for Strava users, since they’re implementing a new feature that allows you to take a virtual bird’s eye view of your route. We can’t think of a better way to cherish and appreciate our more scenic runs, so we’re thankful for the innovation: “Strava releases ‘Flyover’ 3D video recap of athlete activities.”

  • Speaking of being thankful, we want to wish all our readers a belated Happy Thanksgiving! In our fast-paced modern lives, the value of slowing down and expressing gratitude for what we’ve got can’t be overstated. In fact, some experts think gratitude is so powerful, it’s a shame we don’t make an effort to express it more. That’s why keeping a daily gratitude journal is worth exploring, and to learn about the benefits, read: “Giving thanks is good for you. Here's how to make it a habit.”

  • Is it just us, or is there something about the brisk fall weather that makes you want to return to a simpler time, chop some wood, and enjoy a cozy fire. If that sounds enticing, just wait until you hear about the health benefits the lumberjack lifestyle can bring! If your goal is developing functional fitness, you’ve got to learn “How to Get the Body of an Old-School Logger” by performing farmer’s carry, medicine ball ax chops, and other frontier-inspired exercises.

  • Our fast friend and running music recommender in chief, Rebecca Trachsel, is back this week with a new featured song: "Easy" by Misterwives. Formed back in 2012 and based in NYC, Misterwives is led by singer Mandy Lee. Apparently, the band came together because Lee wanted an ‘80s cover band to play for her birthday. And that's all she wrote. Pun intended. The well-known indie-pop band was dropped by their first label mid-pandemic and "Easy" is about being resilient, managing heartache and eventually getting back up and starting again. The message – even when things are difficult, they will get better – resonated with me and, I'm guessing, likely does with most readers here. I can't help but nod my head to the beat as Lee sings: "I'm still standing and my heart's still beating. It gets easier, but it's not easy." Tell me that doesn't apply to almost everything we deal with in life. Especially running. You can find it on Spotify here and on Apple Music here. #turnitup

Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

In our last issue, we gave a tearful shoutout to Kayleigh Williamson, one of the first women with Down Syndrome to ever complete a marathon. The video of her crossing the finish line captured the joy and agony of the moment perfectly. Today we are sharing a finish line video that captures another vibe entirely. @earth_oscar finished the Korat Marathon in Thailand this month and showed us the best finish line dance moves we’ve ever seen. Check out the sassy performance in the video below.


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