Time to redefine how you interact with pain by Monica Liston

Here are my top four tips to managing pain during a race


Back to basics

The hype of race day and seeing all your hard work paying off can often lead to distraction from the race plan. So, when you start to feel pain, stay calm and take yourself back to basics:

– Have you had enough nutrition?

– Are you well hydrated?

– Do you need pain killers (no need to be a martyr in a race situation).


Beware: Unhelpful thinking styles

Get to know how you react in situations of stress or pain. We all have unhelpful thinking styles and to different extents in everyday life. Increasing your awareness of certain thought patterns you may be prone to will help you to prepare for their onset during the race. You don’t necessarily need to fight with these. Your awareness of them will naturally decrease their power and influence on you.

Two of many examples of unhelpful thinking styles include:

  • Catastrophizing: We blow things way out of proportion, resulting in a feeling of hopelessness.
  • Mental Filter: We focus on the negatives, and disqualify the things that are going our way.



There’s a big difference between acute pain, and chronic pain. The brain is much better at conceptualising and dealing with pain when it can see an end to the pain. The race will end, the pain will end. So in the mean time, use distraction. What’s the best form for you?

  • Intentional focus on the next km, the next aid station, the next lap
  • Interaction with spectators and competitors around you (positive interaction that is). This not only helps others, but can both distract you, and lift your spirits in a down patch.


Experience is everything

You’ve been here before. Maybe not this race, but you’ve been in the pain cave during training or other adversities in life. When that voice starts to say “the pain is too much” “I can’t do this”…. actually I can and I’ve got evidence to prove it. Take yourself back to those times of pain in training or in your life, and use the knowledge that you got through it to empower you to keep going.

By Monica Liston


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