Well this is round two. I wrote this blog once but lost it to the ever-mysterious “laptop”. I thought I hit save but usually when I think the computer screwed up, it was probably me.
I was listening to a vlog on YouTube the other day by Kendrick Farris. Kendrick, for those who do not know is a three-time Olympian for the US. Kendrick competes in Weightlifting and has been training for over 15 years and although the sport has grown immensely, Kendrick has never been all that great at social media. For the time I have followed his carrier, very little has been known about his personal life, his training, and his injuries. He pretty much showed up every 4 years, did what he had to do to get on the Olympic team and left the rest to our imagination. Well fortunately, for us Kendrick has started a YouTube channel and is taking us along to see how he operates daily. Through the last few episodes, the issue of his shoulder injury has been a main topic. What is particularly interesting is I did not think Kendrick got hurt. Yeah sounds somewhat silly when I say it out loud but it’s true. He never let anyone in on his conditioning, what he was lifting or if he was hurt. I just always thought he was smarter than the rest, that he had a better coach or program and that he has been able to train for so long because he never dealt with injuries.
We all do this same thing from time to time. We think that when someone is at a particularly high level, that they did not have to deal with the same difficult things we have had to deal with. We think these people are on a constantly upward trajectory and they never have periods where they level off. The story above of Kendrick proves otherwise. In the vlog he is talking with his physical therapist and she makes a passing comment I found interesting. She said something to the effect “we have gotten you ready for each Olympics and have got you through multiple injuries”. That stopped me in my tracks. You mean to tell me that Kendrick Farris the Olympian who has been to the last three Olympics has dealt with multiple major setbacks? As I have watched him, I have been realizing that he is not always at his best. There are multiple months in a year where he cannot lift close to his best numbers. He is not always in his best shape, he has peaks and he has valleys. This really made me think. You see our training is no different. I have found over my many years of training that I have been in great shape, strong and mentally dialed in. I have also had periods for whatever reason where my training was suffering. Life got in the way and I could not keep progressing physically. My strength numbers went down, I did not have the motor I once had and mentally I was in a different space.
We have to stop expecting constant physical progress from ourselves. It is not emotionally sustainable to expect yourself to improve every month of every year, for years on end. This is a recipe for mental and emotional collapse and eventually you will quit. I have noticed over the years that when a person trains with us multiple times a week for about three years something shifts. They start to realize that they more than likely won’t be going to the games, not because they couldn’t but because they really don’t want to. They start to question the program, their results and why they are doing this every day. Some decide it is not working, they blame the program and they get frustrated with what they don’t have and quit. Others take a different approach. They realize this is forever. That training is a part of being a human and that the expectations they had previously were not healthy. They start to enjoy training a bit more and they start to accept the ups and downs, the peaks and valleys. They give themselves permission to let some of the self-inflicted pressure go and just let training be a fun part of their life, always knowing that there will be a day when they have the desire to push the pedal down again and challenge themselves to a difficult goal.
I have been in great shape before and I have been very mentally tough. I have proven both of these things through crucible events that pushed me to some dark places. I am not that person right now. I know I am not mentally as strong as I have been and physically I am not even close, but that’s ok. I am really enjoying this period of time where my workouts are part of my everyday but I’m not pushing limits. I work on my mind but I’m not constantly feeling the need to test it. The stress of difficult physical and mental training takes its toll and there should be times when you can take a step back and soak in what you have learned.
Training is a layered system. Basic skills and strength levels are built layer on layer adding more advanced skills and strength over time. However you can’t build a home on lose ground, it needs to be compact and settled before it can support a large structure, our training is the same. There are is a time after layering on skill after skill that there needs to be a settling period, a time when you allow those skills to solidify and become part of who you are. This applies to all aspects of what we do. Progress is great but only if the change is lasting and to be lasting it needs to be a true part of who you are.
My encouragement to you is don’t quit. Kendrick isn’t the most talented lifter to ever live but Kendrick has proven that even through great adversity he doesn’t quit. Even when he has maybe, taken ten steps back he still stays in the game because his vision isn’t of the next Instagram post. He is building a legacy of daily choices that over time when looked back upon will be something his children can model their life after. Train hard but don’t be obsessive. When life throws you a curve ball, don’t be afraid that you may lose a bit physically while you deal with it. That’s just life and dealing with that in a balanced way is how you learn to enjoy each and every day we are given.
Lastly, if we all start to think like this what an awesome group of people we will be surrounded by. I have heard it before but Kevin in the 6:30am class always reminds me “you are an average of the 5 people you spend the most time with”. Well if we are a group of people that constantly strive for balance and challenge our bodies and minds in a healthy positive way, Uncommon will be an even more special place to spend our time.