Thursday, August 09, 2007
I am feeling yesterday's workout, let me tell you. There were some times where everything was hurting and no matter how hard I pushed my body kept decelerating, wanting and needing to stop.
"Enough," it said.
"No," I responded.
I leaned harder on my body, pushing it more and exhaling deeply. I completed all the sets - barely. I don't go this hard too often, I'd break down, but from time to time you need to find the walls of your limits and push against them.
For some background, I wrote here a while ago how my brother, training for his last season, had enrolled in a 16 week strength and fitness program with a personal trainer. All season long, as the Hodags' fitness coordinator, he brought what he learned from professionals to the team and designed the workout program that laid the foundation for the Hodags' dominance of their competition. That same knowledge and philosophy, continued by Muffin last year and this coming year, led to one of the most dominant runs through Nationals competition ever. And now, with my brother's arrival on Bravo this year, he has resumed that role in weekly (and optional) workouts for the team. It's beginning to pay off, several teammates have said. And why?
It's not a secret, but it bears remembering: If you do not flirt with pain and exhaustion in your workouts you won't know what to do when they start a conversation with you on the field.
This is perhaps the hardest thing to do with my high school kids. Many of them pull up at the first sign of pain or exhaustion, the moment their bodies start taxing. I understand, when I was their age I rarely wanted to push myself too hard. It takes work. Gritting your teeth and going that one level up is something our body naturally resists, and will whine as much as it needs to place itself out of harm's way. But it can be practiced, and each time your mind and body get more comfortable with performing under duress. You focus less energy on how you feel and more energy on performing well.
Naturally, nutrition is as important as your workout. If you don't eat something with protein and carb within 45 minutes of the end of your workout, you'll be doing more harm to your body than good. You might as well not have worked out and stopped your body from consuming its own muscle mass. Food and stretching after workouts like these are vital if they are to be beneficial instead of detrimental.
Your ability to push your body past the point where it wants to quit is a skill that can be developed like any other. But when the moment comes it is entirely about will. You have to block out the desire to quit as you do other distractions and focus on the correct form of your movement. It feels a bit like taking your body off autopilot and manually working each of your muscles. Teams love players like this, because it shows a conscious unwillingness to quit, and that's a powerful intangible. When you complete a season with only one loss luck may have something to do with it, but it's those invisible mental pushes for more - a renunciation of your body's discomfort for the sake of your common goal - that fill out the W column.
I'm getting ready.
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