No Pain, No Gain: Does this theory really work?

“No Pain, No Gain” has been yelled at us by personal trainers, motivational speakers and keynote speakers. Explained to us by life coaches, business trainers and wellness practitioners, sold to us by investment bankers and probably chanted by tomorrows future champions. In business it means investing now for rewards later. Putting time, effort or finances into something to get the future results.  On a personal level at work it might mean working harder (though not necessarily smarter).  You’ll have longer hours, no weekends and plenty of stress and no doubt achieve good results, earn your bonus and perhaps gain a promotion, but with a little bit of wisdom business coaching and efficiency you could have done the same thing and taken less toll on your stress levels and health. I like this motivational quote because I am an ultra-runner, but I’m not sure I entirely agree with it.  In training and fitness endeavours, it’s pushing yourself to the limits or the boundaries. That is what is needed to get fitter, stronger, better. Sometimes it does hurt to extend ourselves. To get fit requires improving your current self. It doesn’t happen by remaining idle, it doesn’t necessarily happen through pain either. “Even for a professional athlete,” said Carl Lewis in his diary One More Victory Lap, “I don’t buy into the theory of push, push, push, push until you drop. You need to be smarter than that or else you are not going to be around very long. …working out should be something to enjoy, not something that hurts.” It is when you teeter on the edge or tip over the no pain, no gain edge that problems start and the gains finish. The pain turns into a more permanent hurt. Ailments, injury or damage follow and that’s the end of becoming fitter, stronger and better. There is no denying it my chosen sport of ultra-running can be painful, big time.  Same goes for the shorter stuff. I went to the local running club last night and the coach gave us ten by 400 metre sprints. It was uncomfortable, my lungs were burning and my legs were hurting, but I know it was adding to my fitness and strengthening my body not hindering it. Being uncomfortable or experiencing a certain type of pain often comes from the body’s lethargy or the minds unwillingness, then it is worth the effort to keep pushing and the gains start. Other times it can be a warning sign of an injury, then you have to sensibly back off and change your gait, shoes, speed or training methods. You find a solution and do whatever it takes to keep moving without causing damage. We have to listen to our bodies in work, business and sport and learn what needs to be noticed and what needs to be ignored. For more information about how KONA can introduce a staff stress management training plan in your workforce please contact Glenn Dobson at or 1300 611 288