Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Enjoying the Pain?

I've started a winter workout program on rowing machines on M/W/F/Sat. These workouts last about an hour and can be grueling. Our new Ukrainian rowing coach is intense and has challenged us to work harder.

Our coach has come up with some interesting sayings during these hard workouts. This morning, while we were doing the last of three 20 minute rowing sessions, he said, "Enjoy the pain." What I think he meant was "enjoy the physical exertion of a hard workout."

While I didn't enjoy the workout, I did enjoy the results. After a hard workout you feel relaxed from the endorphins that are released. You also feel good when the pain of the workout stops. You're hungry for breakfast and feel fully justified in eating a full breakfast. At night, you're tired and sleep better.

A hard workout is a useful metaphor for certain times in our life. When we have endured a painful or difficult time, there is relief when the pain stops. There is also the positive feeling that "I've survived this." Often, we can learn some life lessons from a painful episode.

I'm not suggesting that we seek out painful experiences. Enough pain comes into every life without looking for it. What I'm saying is that we can learn how to survive these challenging times and become stronger in the process. Perhaps we can even learn to enjoy the pain-- after it's over.

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