Doing the hard thing

Who told you that “training” was going to be easy? Did you expect to be comfortable? If you haven’t realized yet that, you’re probably new to training or you need to find a new program. Just ask anyone who’s been training seriously for more than a couple years, your belt being “tight and pinchy” is nothing compared to trying not to piss or shit yourself during your set. Yes, that’s actually a thing.

When you train, you have goals – goals to become stronger or leaner, or both, than you are now. Creating this kind of change requires you to put your body under a stress that it has not yet experienced because you need to give it a reason to adapt, you need to overload it. Which of these words: “stress,”adapt”,” or “overload” give you cause to think that working hard won’t be involved?

We’ve all had things that we really wanted – to graduate, to get a new job, to get a raise, to run a business, to maintain a relationship, to get over an addiction, etc. What kinds of sacrifices did you make to get the things you wanted? Surely they weren’t all easy to make, I bet some of them were really fucking hard to make and you questioned yourself many times. But, you get up everyday and you make the choices, sometimes they are easy and sometimes they are hard. Sometimes the payoff is quick and others are years away, but you build your future one brick at a time, not in one shot.

In his book, The Mindful Athlete George Mumford writes about achieving great things on and off the court, “Often these things come incrementally. Remember that taking small steps, consistently, in the right direction will eventually yield big results. That said, you have to have motivation and intention behind these small things.”  Keeping your intention in mind will carry you through difficult times. Taking steps with intention, even if they are small, can yield powerful results. Similarly, training is a process that involves spending hours and hours working on your technique, learning from your mistakes and putting in the work, even when you don’t want to.

You’re not going to want to go to the gym every single time. You’re going to be tired, you’ll get sick, you’ll have a bad training day, you’ll have to deal with an injury and the weights will feel heavy. Of course the weights feel heavy! That’s their job! Stop accepting every little thing as an excuse to skip the gym. If you can’t make it to your normal gym, bite the bullet and get to another one. Does something hurt? Modify your workout. Feeling sick or tired? Lower the weights or drop a set. You owe it to yourself to at least get the gym, any gym, and do the best you can. Putting in the work will contribute to your intention and give you good training days, too.

There are certainly good reasons for needing to miss a workout, but there are definitely a higher number of unacceptable reasons. I can tell the difference between someone who is dedicated and someone who isn’t. When you show up to the gym, notice you’ve forgotten your shorts and squat till you’ve torn a hole in your jeans, you are dedicated. When part of you travel arrangements are finding gyms and tailoring your program accordingly, you are dedicated. When you show up to a session obviously tired from your demanding job but forge ahead, you are dedicated.

On a personal note, I’ve successfully and unsuccessfully spent training sessions holding back tears and doubting my capabilities. At times like these it’s incredibly easy to go into a dark place. For me, having a light house is important. The light house, in this context, is the person who can remind me of what I know but am too emotional or tired to remember for myself, even though I can see if for others. Your coach can see things that you may not be able to. Listen to him or her!

Learning what it takes to achieve what you really want can be a difficult process. If you’re a little lost here, you may need some input to help you manage your expectations and be realistic with your circumstances. A good coach can help you strike a balance.

So, until you can get a 500lb Deadlift from Amazon Prime or a 225lb bench delivered from an app invented by some skinny hipster with no ass , you’re going to have to put in the time, make some sacrifices and be tough. Show up, take the bad training days with the good and do your best not to shit yourself (especially if you are wearing your jeans with the hole in them). You’ll need to ask for help and guidance along the way, but the only person who can actually make the change is you.


One thought on “Doing the hard thing

  1. Wow! Amazing article. And to think I was alone in feeling this way – “On a personal note, I’ve successfully and unsuccessfully spent training sessions holding back tears and doubting my capabilities.”.


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