It has its “Ups” and “Downs.” I notice that we always want the “ups” WAY more than we want the “downs.”
What’s unfortunate is how we can handle the valleys in our journey vs. our crave for glory and the next milestone. Imagine, we’re right there at the last climb before reaching the summit. Or it’s right before we make that last, long leap. Sometimes we’re stretched out, right in the middle of the gap, hanging by a thin line over the middle of a never-ending black hole of YOUSUCK. There’s a moment of possible failure; self-doubt. There’s even extreme physical and emotional pain that can set us back or even cause us to quit or turn around…
(…aaaaand here’s where I realize I’m writing another cliche “Don’t quit! You’re a You can-do-it-snowflake,” post. If I could shake my head instead of writing “SMH,” and punch myself in the neck, I would do it right now…just did it)
What I’ve noticed in my own experience is that, even before we reach a the level of shitiness that comes with failing or just sucking, we start to question and doubt ourselves. That self doubt I’m referring to is not so much our technical ability or skill set, but something a little deeper and central to our resilience at that breakpoint.
“Can I take this shit?”
“Do I really wanna do this?”
“I don’t know if I’m up for it.”
“What the fuck am I doing this for?”
When I train new people to box, or ask them to do harder exercises---- even though they’ve been consistent in the beginning--- there always comes a point where it gets a little too real.
For example, when training new boxers with the punch mitts: after they learn the basics of punching and defense, I start to mimic an opponent. I lightly swat at them with the mitts like a boxing opponent would. This was how I was taught by my coach, and it’s made me the hardass-dickhead-aspiring coach I am today. The better they get, the more intense and realistic I get “swatting” and “smacking” them without throwing full on punches.
(Note to insert insurance/liability disclaimer here)
Eventually, the fighter makes a mistake and takes close to a full-on smack to his head…maybe an impact of about 60% to that precious dome. A lot of trainees flinch or need to take a minute to process what had just happened (sounds better). When I say, “Okay, hands up” again, they’re a little leary of the next few combinations because of it. As a result, their technique and ability start to falter. When I see it in their newer, nervous movements, that’s when I stop.
“Listen, ” I say, “Come here. Stand right here in front of me and put your hands up by your cheeks. Just hold ‘em up there.” They listen, apprehensively, and I tell them, “Just stand there with your hands up. I’m not gonna wail on you or anything. I’m just gonna do what I just did before.”
Then I proceed to hit them again with the mitts on top of their gloves. I start at about 20% of full force, then gradually increase the impact close to 80% of my full power and speed. Eventually, the trainee is taking a good deal of impact in his defense vs. what previously caught him off guard during the drill, as I’m telling him to just stand there and feel it for a little bit. It only lasts about 5 seconds, and then I stop.
I step back and say this:
“See…I just wanted you to feel what was WAY worse than what I caught you with earlier by surprise. And you’re STILL here. Just this instant you weren’t knocked out, knocked down, or even hurt…like, at all. Look here, you’re a lot tougher and more resilient than you think. You just willingly took some pretty hefty shots to your pumpkin sized noggin, and you’re STILL standing up, listening to the words, that are coming out of my mouth. So stop fuckin’ flinching.”
During a client’s last set of an overhead press, right when he reaches that the point where he thinks he’s not going to complete the lift and has to drop it back to the rack, I do the same thing as his (a?) spotter. He thinks he’s reached his max weight, that it’ll be another few months before he can add weight to the bar successfully. I tell them to re-rack it, take a breath, and come back to the bar.
And I tell him that he’s gonna do it again…right, this time.
I myself, have been in both scenarios in my own training…and found ways to push past my limit.
Or what I thought was my limit…of pain and discomfort.
And also what I thought was my limit for success.
I look at the fighter or trainee, and tell them again:
“HEY! YOU ARE MORE RESILIENT THAN YOU THINK. You’re a hell of a lot tougher, both physically and mentally, THAN…YOU…THINK. And I can see it. When you walked in here, I bet you didn’t think you’d make it this far. And now you look and move better, lift heavier, and are stronger than every other selfie-taking gym waster in here. Now, get it done.”
(I don’t smack the lifters with dumbbells, 45 lb plates or anything FYI. I say other motivational, Gatorade commercial, “Nike Just Do It” type stuff instead.)
…I really gotta put in that insurance/liability thing.
Just as much as life is filled with the highest of highs, it’s also filled with the worst types of shittiness. It’s often right before the incoming storm of dogshit that we think about turning around or stopping our journey after a long trek. Right there on a stormy horizon it’s easier to turn around or just stop. Call it “fight, flight, or freeze,” a moment of panic or worry, I’m sure there’s a bunch of evolutionary science and study behind what goes on in our brains in those seconds.
What I know and have experienced is that your coach or trainer is also there, watching you, coaching you, and protecting you. A), it’s just bad for business if we drop a weight on your head. And B), we’ve got a little more experience than you, as we’ve been down this road in our own training. We’ve seen and experienced for ourselves, the same, seemingly impossible tasks that we’re now asking you to do. You aren’t doing this all by yourself, or for the first time.
The fact that you made it this far…in life for that matter, is proof that you’ve got some degree of fortitude and grit. The same goes for your training. You’re the one who made the decision to not only take up your training, but to walk in the gym and take on the first, unknown challenges. And then…you CONTINUED to show up. Your first goals were met, weight was added, more rounds completed, training hours began to seem like minutes.
The next few reps or rounds are just the next steps, just as you took the difficult, first steps into the gym. They may seem steeper, scarier, or even impossible. But to the next person who wants to start training today, just walking in the gym asking for help is just as scary or impossible.
You would probably tell that person, “Duder (or duderette), you can do it. EYE fuckin’ did.”
SO, Mr. Back To You…YOU are tougher and more asskicking than you think for this next step.
Believe me. You’ve got to trust your coach or trainer, otherwise they wouldn’t have put you there. We believe that you’ve got the iron-will and persistence for the next few seconds. Trust us.
Most of all though…you have to trust yourself.
Find your sKrap. And go get it done.