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By Grahak Cunningham.

“No pain, no gain” has been yelled at us by personal trainers, business 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 tomorrow’s 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.

But 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 mind’s 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. Sometimes when we hear it so much from business speakers, motivational speakers, keynote speakers, fitness trainers and so on we forget to do that.

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Australian motivational speaker Grahak Cunningham is an ordinary Australian who dared to dream. Challenging himself to go beyond what he thought was possible, he knows we can accomplish anything and stay happy and positive even in the most trying of times.

He is a four-time finisher of the world's longest certified foot race and ultra marathon: the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race.

Founded in 1997 the 3100 Mile Race is held every year on a concrete footpath around an 883 metre block in Queens, New York.

Runners are given 18 hours a day, from 6:00 a.m. to midnight, for 51 days, to run a minimum of 60 miles a day (96km) to complete the distance. This involves circumnavigating the block 5649 times.

Over the duration of the race, runners wear out fifteen pairs of shoes, and their feet swell an extra two sizes. In a typical New York summer, temperatures can reach 40 degrees centigrade with 85% humidity. Competitors must contend with boredom, fatigue, torrential deluges, extreme pain, injuries and sleep deprivation—but most of all, they have to deal with themselves. Outwardly for their efforts they will receive a plastic trophy and a t-shirt but they make a lifetime of progress.

He works as a conference keynote speaker from his base of Perth and enjoys traveling (by plane not foot.)

For more information, please visit

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