Posted On:
Tuesday, January 9, 2018
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Coach Tip Tuesday: Pain is Not Weakness

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Thank you all for joining me for another round of Coach Tip Tuesday!!

Today’s tip is simple, but intensely important: pain is not weakness.

Over the years I’ve watched so many athletes not only train through pain, but celebrate it when they do.  I’ve watched people cross finish lines of races completely injured when they should have withdrawn.  I’ve watched athletes continue to come to group workouts so they don’t miss time with their friends despite their body giving them clear signals that that isn’t the best call. 

Let’s be clear.  There is always discomfort that comes when we push our current physical limits and boundaries.  This is *very* different than actual PAIN.  Pain is your body’s way of telling you that it perceives a threat.  Your central nervous system is an amazing thing for many reasons, but one of the neatest things about it is that it’s designed to tell you when it doesn’t believe that it’s safe.

How many of you have heard the quote “pain is weakness leaving the body”??  Or, how many of you have believed that pain is something that you must disregard and push through?? 

It’s time to stop thinking that pain is weakness, or that it’s there for no apparent reason.  Believe me, I do understand why so many people think this.  They don’t want to hear the follow-up to acknowledging that they have pain: that they need to stop, rest, and work to resolve the root cause of what is causing their pain in the first place.

I see this ALL the time with the customers who I work with at Fleet Feet Sports Syracuse; they come in looking for a miracle shoe or product that will resolve their pain and keep them running.  Unfortunately, I tell them something that I know they have absolutely no interest in hearing.  But, it’s what I also tell all of the athletes who I work for when I know that they are experiencing pain: cease the offending activity, and if the pain persists, get it checked out by a qualified medical provider.  Better to take a bit of time off and resolve what the problem is than “toughing it out” only to land you on the Injured Reserve list for an extended period of time.

While “mind over matter” is something that can get us through a lot of hard times in our lives, it’s not something that should be applied when physical pain manifests.  You’re not being weak by acknowledging that it’s there….quite the contrary, really.  You’re being smart and thinking long-term; you want to keep doing the things you love for as long as you can, and sometimes that means hitting the reset button and starting new after some time has passed.

So rather than being a stubborn bullhead (admit’ve been there just like I have), respect your body and acknowledge pain if it pops up for you.  Pain is not weakness.  Know this, and work to resolve it so that it does go away so you can get back to doing what you love most.


Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at

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