I am a mama’s boy, I’m not afraid to admit it, because I am. I’m much closer to her than my father; I think most of it was a direct result of being the youngest, and the natural pull of our similar personalities. I have no idea why I am professing my MamaBoyism, especially knowing that Shady Bear will read this and now call me a Mama’s Boy.
Ever since I can remember my mother would tell me that I start things really well, whether it was the Violin, Piano, Trumpet, Bass, Guitar, Tae Kwon Do, Computer Programming, and for all intensive purposes everything in life, but she always told me that I never finish anything.
A big portion of my life is like a brand new book, which barely has the spine broken, and only the first 5 chapters with turned pages.
I’m great at preparing and starting something, I do the research, learn about methodologies, find out who the best in a particular field is and then start down a road which indicates all probability of success, the only problem has always been I get 1/3 of the way through and I get bored, or frustrated and quit. To say the least I have great ideas, great plans, and poor execution.
Through my early 20’s when my first business failed, I could hear her words in my head, that I don’t finish well, and I that I won’t ever be successful in my life if I don’t learn to finish.
So I find a hint of irony in the fact that finishing strong is the reason I choose to workout with such intensity. Somewhere along the way, perhaps during one of the many ass kicking’s at the hand of Sam Pouenu, I decided that I was going to finish stronger than I started.
Not to say that I haven’t accomplished anything, I just never did it like a winner.
What do I mean by finishing?
In any given period of work I think most of us go through a similar process. We start off strong, working hard; to some degree we are trying to move our body from a basic starting point of zero into the work zone.
The work zone is where we start to excel and perform well, we can feel it in our muscle fibers, the application of good technique, the feeling of strength and power. As time goes on, our body starts to breakdown, and our weaknesses start to materialize. The pain starts to increase, and our mind starts to tell us it’s a better idea to stop and rest than it is to continue.
I think for most people this where they start to slow down, or it’s where they start to take breaks, but in that moment of inner weakness I feel this how we fail during our workouts. It’s not good enough to just get through, fuck who in life wants to just get through anything?
The decision we make in these pending moments of fatigue, frustration, and physical breakdown is how we learn about ourselves, we test our own mettle, and decide to either make progress in our physical efforts, or succumb to our imaginary pain threshold. I say imaginary because the physical pain is real, yet the intensity of the pain level is determined by you. The human body can adapt to anything, and your pain threshold is like your patience, you can condition it to make it more durable.
If you choose an active lifestyle, then this pain is something that is a part of your life, you have to ask yourself will the pain win everyday, or will you?
When I write about pain I’m not talking about running with a damaged Achilles, or doing push presses with a shoulder injury, I’m talking about the pain that always exists when you work your body. I am talking about that dull pain, that starts to seep into your mind as the lactate acid builds and as your muscles get tired, and your mind starts to lose focus.
All of these developments that occur during your workouts are part of the human body’s natural processes, yet the amazing adaptability of our bodies allows us to endure more, and as time goes on perform at a higher level longer.
It’s in these moments of strife that we can give in, or choose to overcome the situation and make progress in our fitness goals. This is a battle that no one else can help you with, as it’s a personal struggle between your body, and your mind. The more often we can win against the defeatist part of our personalities, the more often we evolve our ability to function, and increase our capacity for victory.
It’s here that we build our killer instincts.
I by no means enjoy running, but there is an aspect of it which, I am falling in love with, last night at CFE our WoD was to run four 800-meter intervals, with 3 minutes of rest between intervals. The goal was to keep our times within 5 seconds of each other, and to work on our newly learned running cadences.
My first interval was okay, and I finished in 3:30. Then after my second interval I asked myself did I really sign up and pay for this shit? I finished in 3:25. By the third interval I was ready to quit. I could feel my hamstrings, and quadriceps getting weaker, my mind turning into an unfocused mess of shit, but I finished the interval in 3:21.
At the start of my fourth and final interval I was about 8 seconds behind Pete and Kevin. As I took off from the starting line I was determined to catch Pete and Kevin. By the turn onto Glebe road I was only a few steps behind them. As we headed down the sidewalk towards the Sunrise Assisted Living turnaround point, I was gaining on them, and at the point where we start to turn around I was directly behind them.
The entire time I chased them down this hill I could feel the pain building in my lungs, I don’t know if this is what runners mean when they start talking about the burn, but it was a dull pain that grew as I worked harder. It almost felt like a black cloud of smoke bleeding into my lungs, causing me to fight to breathe, it’s probably a fight between my lungs and heart for blood flow.
When we started back uphill, I lost at least a dozen steps to them, it takes quite a bit of effort to slow this big ass body down, and then start it back up. I knew I had to recover quickly and close the gap early or I would never keep up with them. About halfway through the second half of the final interval, I was right behind them, and as we approached the street crossing near the Papa John’s, I was looking for enough space to pass them.
The entire time I trailed these two guys I was dying inside. My breathing became heavy, I felt like I couldn’t continue, in fact my right quadriceps was throbbing so hard, I’m pretty sure that a third of my blood flow was in that leg.
The only thing I kept telling myself was, finish strong. Finish hard, and finish strong. I wanted to shift into a new gear, and finish like a winner.
When we made that final turn, there was a split second where I wanted to quit, but when the road widen enough for me to pass, there was no question as to whether or not I would quit…quitting is for suckers.
How could I quit when the last 20+ minutes was all but a staging ground for this one moment of triumph or failure?
It took everything I had left in me to sprint the final 50 meters; I passed them and ran as hard as I could. A few of the steps I took I could feel my legs wanting to buckle, there was nothing but pain permeating from every part of my body, and my lungs felt like they would collapse.
When I finally crossed the finish line, I had run my fastest interval, 3:15. I had accomplished my goal, and I know that I left last night’s workout having done everything I can to improve my capacity to run.
What I call my dark place, is the pain abyss, and it’s the place you can either choose to get lost in, and give up, or choose to fight through and make progress, incremental progress over a log period of time is all it takes to succeed at anything.
I choose to win, it might not happen every time I go out, but it’s happened more times than not, and finishing hard is the reason I have been able to lose the weight that I have, and I know it’s the reason I will summit Mount McKinley next year.