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I have a story to tell.
I was a fat little kid. Two fat parents will tend to do that to you.
In high school, I had mandatory athletics. Between swimming and martial arts, I dropped a ton of fat very fast. That was pretty cool. I got more into it and that is when my passion for this shit really developed.
Then I started cycling, did a few triathlons. Found competition to be a lot of fun, a good way to keep myself focused.
My senior year I got into gymnastics by way of cheer leading. I was never more than mediocre at it but it led me to pursue a degree in Kinesiology at UCLA because I wanted to coach. During that time I got more into cycling, was introduced my junior year to in-line skating. At this point I was well on my way to being a jock (jock body, not jock mind). A nerd jock, but a jock. I was consumed literally with my field of interest. I read everything (still do) about training, nutrition, etc. Anything I thought might help my own efforts.
I spent literally my entire college years living on my skates. LA is a good city for that. When races started showing up, I did a couple. Now that was the shit.
Better skates, more training.
I trained and raced off and on for several years before I got burnt out on it (20+ hours/week of endurance training plus weights and everything else will do that to you). Moved to Austin, threw myself more into weight training sports. bodybuilding and power lifting both of which I was, optimistically speaking, mediocre at. This year, after roughly a 7 year hiatus, I decided to go back to skating.
That means that over the past 15 years or so, I have been involved in training and competitive sport to one degree or another. 15 years. If I’ve taken more than 5 days of training in a row off (barring injury or illness), I can’t recall it. I’ll skip the occasional day but that’s about it. 15 years. I intend to remain involved until they put me in a pine box (or I become immortal).
Today I suffered through 2 solid hours of misery inducing training. I warmed up for about 15′ and stretched a little. Then I spent 18 straight minutes doing one of the most boring training activities ever. It’s called down time and it’s a dry land skating drill. It accomplishes both technical and conditioning effects.
Here’s how you do it in case you want to try it. Bend your knees to about 90-100 degrees, low back rounded over so that your torso is about parallel with the floor. Like the speed skaters on the winter Olympics Now stick one leg out to the side, balanced on the leg underneath your body. Return the first leg and stick out the other leg. Repeat.
For 18 solid minutes.
During which, at every minute I thought to myself “This hurts, I’m bored, I want to stand up, to rest my back, to let the screaming in my quads abate.” But I never did. I suffered through until my time was up.
I will keep raising the time, to maybe 25-30 minutes and then I can start back on my skates. But until my technique is where I want it, I won’t be skating for a while.
Then I went to the bike, for 45 minutes at a fairly hard heart rate: about 160-165.
It’s boring, my legs burned, I wanted to stop and go eat a chocolate donut. But I suffered through.
And I still wasn’t done.
Then I went to the StairMaster for 3X3 minute intervals at my maximum power output, with a 3′ break. My lungs were screaming, my low back was toast, my legs were yelling at me and I wanted to stop every second of the 3′. My heart rate peaked out at 194 which is actually low, I can hit 199 on a good day. The three minute break takes about 1/10th as long as the 3 minute interval. Feels like it anyhow. And even during the break, I’m gasping for air, about to pull a side stitch. I want to quit, I want to go home and collapse.
But now I have to cool down. 15 more minutes of progressively decreasing effort.
Then I stumble out of the gym, brain dead. Go get some food. Come home, fall down. People have asked me if I enjoy this. Frankly, no, not really. I will enjoy it once I start racing again and see the results of my suffering. Right now, it’s just suffering. Suffering that has to be done for me to compete where I want to compete but that’s about it.
I have to lift tonight. Thank god it’s a fairly medium level workout. I skipped it last week and paid the price, I was sore as shit from my Monday workout.
And I have to repeat this morning’s workout tomorrow and the day after before I get a break. Block training is miserable but it works.
Now, I could lie, tell you that I never lost/lose motivation or drive. But that’s all it would be: a lie.
Depending on how burnt out I am or what mood I’m in, I always ask myself why I do it? All the pain, all the suffering, why? I think to myself “Why couldn’t I be like most of everybody else: fat, lazy and unhealthy.” The idea of sitting on my couch and eating donuts and pizza at every meal is imminently appealing.
Perhaps I could be like many of my friends, unhealthy, out of shape, eating shitty food that makes them feel bad, drinking themselves to sickness and misery on a nightly basis, chain smoking.
Or maybe I could be my dad who was a walking time bomb: high blood pressure, cholesterol, alcoholic, overweight, sedentary, lifetime smoker. Who died in his mid 50’s from a pointless heart attack when I was 19.
And then I realize that I couldn’t ever be that way. I realize that the suffering, the effort, the pain is all worth it. And that’s what keeps me motivated.
So if you want to question your motivation, that’s fine. It happens to the best of us.
Just don’t fucking bitch about it or make excuses or look for motivation from anyone else. If it doesn’t come from within you, you’ll never get anywhere.
Make your choice and move on.
Written by Lyle McDonald
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