Mindset Training

Issue 11

ASRV Wings

​​“Once you have a taste of what it feels like to have your body rebel against the mind, it is addicting.”

Valley of Fire

In the realm of human experience, pain has long been regarded as an adversary, an unwelcome intruder that we avoid at all costs. Yet athletes have always held a different perspective on pain. The quote featured above references a phenomenon known to endurance athletes as, “the pain cave.” In this issue of the Mindset Training Newsletter, we delve into this headspace where athletes find solace amidst extreme physical suffering, and where individuals from all walks of life can discover new depths of discipline and resilience.

For professional athletes, descending into the pain cave is an expression of their desire to win; for everyday individuals, it is a chance to get closer to our true selves and reveal our ability to endure. The pain cave is not a physical space, but a mental sanctuary. It is a headspace where the noise of the world fades into insignificance, and all that matters is the battle unfolding within. It is within those depths that we confront our vulnerabilities, face our demons, and emerge stronger.

Neuroscience Highlight:

In 2017, researchers from the University of Cardiff embarked on a study to understand the allure of intense exercise and the intriguing interplay between pleasure and pain. Their findings shed light on the inner workings of our minds and bodies during such demanding endeavors, revealing that pain has a unique ability to sharpen our focus and reconnect us with our physical presence.

Within the confines of the pain cave, the mind and body engage in an intricate dance orchestrated by our neurochemistry. Adrenaline courses through our veins, sharpening focus and heightening our senses. Dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, floods our brain, allowing us to experience a unique euphoria amidst the struggle. It is in this neural symphony that we find the remarkable power to push through the limits of what we once believed possible.

And, despite its acute unpleasantness, pain offers a temporary respite from the burdens of self. Within the pain cave, our thoughts fade away, and we become immersed in the raw physicality of each passing moment. These insights highlight the profound relationship between pain, self-awareness, and the untapped potential that lies within us all.

Creating Your Own Pain Cave:

Carving out your own personal pain cave takes both time and commitment. The following steps will give you a starting point, but as the pain cave is an immensely personal experience, the rest is up to you and you alone.

Embrace the Threshold:

The pain cave exists at the edge of our limits, at the moment when the body begins to rebel against the mind. Some may get there quickly, while for others it can take a long time. Approach your own limits and acknowledge the discomfort as a gateway to transformation.

Trust Your Resilience:

Find what works for you, but you may experiment with the practices of self-talk and affirmations. Remind yourself of your past triumphs and the strength that lies within. Visualize yourself conquering challenges, and let that image propel you forward. You’ve been here before; trust in your ability to endure.

Seek the Flow State:

In the pain cave, time seems to blur, and you become one with the task at hand. Find your rhythm, synchronize your breathing, and let the outside world fade away. As your body moves with grace, you will tap into a state of flow where effort becomes effortless.

Visualize the Cave:

As you follow the steps above, begin visualizing an actual cave in your mind. Allow each moment of pain to dig a little bit deeper into the cave; carve out your sanctuary.

The Everyday Pain Cave

Whether in athletics or life, pain plays a vital role in our growth. It forces us to confront the disruptive, awful, and occasionally inspiring realities of the world around us. And it causes us to ask ourselves how much we are willing to give for the goals we’ve laid out.

When we adopt the mindset of the pain cave, we shift our perspective on obstacles. We recognize that the path to success is paved with discomfort, setbacks, and moments of intense struggle. And in the face of such adversity, the pain cave becomes our refuge.

Our willingness to venture into the depths of the cave for physical challenges is applicable far beyond the physical realm alone. The same sanctuary we carve out on a long run can provide solace during the challenging times in our lives or careers. We can find profound meaning and growth in these times if we acknowledge that we have been here before, survived, and even thrived.

The Valley of Fire

For the Summer ‘23 season, we were inspired by the duality of the pain-cave experience. We wanted to introduce a collection that spoke directly to the beauty and pain found at the limits of human endurance. For the visuals in this campaign, the “Valley of Fire,” with its scorching intensity and unforgiving terrain, served as both a physical and metaphorical representation of this phenomenon.

The product design for this collection was informed by those activities most conducive to pain-cave experiences, and the warm color palette is meant to reflect the natural landscape of the desert. Products of highlight include the 0786. Ripstop 3" Belt Pack Short, with an innovative 3-in-1 design for distraction-free running, the 0784. Ultralite™ 6” Liner Short, debuting a new material with the perfect balance of lightness and durability, and the 0772. SilverPlus™ Mesh Oversized Jersey, offering a highly ventilated throw-over for summer training.

Final Word

As we explore the depths of the pain cave, we invite you to embrace the challenges that lie ahead. Let the Valley of Fire be your refuge, your sanctuary, your home away from home. Embrace the discomfort, revel in the challenge, and remember that each step you take, each breath you breathe, is a victory in and of itself.