The lack of blog posts lately has been due to a very busy schedule on multiple fronts. I hope to post at least twice per week going forward.
When training for any competitive event, there will be times when you want to give up and take an unscheduled break. This is only natural, because the very thing that makes a competitor great is also the same thing that is tedious, boring, and often hopeless: Deliberate practice.
Deliberate practice, as I’ve said countless times before, is paying precise attention to what you are doing on a daily basis to improve. You must compare yourself to your former self, others you are trying to beat, the greatest in the world at your sport/activity, and figure out how to move forward. Progress isn’t a straight path from beginner to expert; every great competitor spent days, weeks, months, even years maintaining or even regressing in their skills – sometimes due to injury, sometimes just due to the impossible difficulty of the task at hand. It is precisely at these times when the temptation is so great to want to give up that it seems impossible to continue on.
But if you do, in 5, 10, or 15 years, you’ll eventually look back and say “I could have done more.”
Real Life Examples
One of my clients is playing baseball at a college where the program’s coaches are short on understanding pitching mechanics and exercise science, and the majority of his teammates don’t see the value in things like throwing weighted baseballs, frequent long toss, or squatting heavy two or three times per week. He’s made big strides from his high school junior year to his freshman year of college, so he’s behind the development curve a bit, but he has an outside chance of playing professional baseball if he keeps up the hard work that gave him the chance to play college baseball. The environment that he’s in keeps him down because the coaches are constantly harping on him about his weight room activities (he does extra work on top of their high-rep bodybuilding regimen) or thoughts about pitching mechanics, but he knows that he has to keep his head down and simply bust his butt. One of his responses to someone harping on him about his heavy deadlifts was: “You do you, I’ll do me, and we’ll see who starts on the field in the spring.” You have to turn around the negativity and turn it into a positive motivator to keep yourself going.
Another one of my clients is throwing the shot put for only his second year. As a high school senior, he’s very far behind in experience. However, a relative of his is a well-known high school throws coach in the Midwest, and he’s a big proponent of working hard, lifting hard, and eating big. This client went from 165 pounds to 250 pounds in just about 16 months by eating tons of food, drinking lots of milk, and lifting frequently. Now that he’s developed a decent level of strength, he’s cut back the lifting and has been throwing every day on his relative’s workout plan. His high school does not have a throwing ring, so he has to take the bus to another school a few miles away, but their ring is fenced off and locked. No one is ever practicing there, naturally, so he has to hop the fence with his 12 and 16 pound shot puts in his backpack. While there, he sets up his camera and makes 50-70 throws with varying techniques (some standing, some halfs, some full motion throws). Three times a week after he’s done, he hops the fence and catches the bus to Driveline Athletics, where he’ll lift heavy stuff.
I’m rehabbing herniated discs in L4-L5 due to a lifetime of terrible posture while sitting down (I firmly believe schools ingrain this terrible posture by forcing kids to sit for hours at a time in class). Last year I had it nearly painfree with regular visits to the chiropractor and doing my own rehab protocol, but after my son was born, I reaggravated it due to sitting with a flexed spine. I couldn’t properly rehab it while playing baseball and pitching twice per week, so it continued to be a chronic issue – especially bad in the mornings. However, the offseason is here, and I’ve taken control of my rehab so I can compete as best I can in 2012. I’m doing over 250 reps/day of back extensions, reverse hypers, yoga posture poses, tire flips, deadlifts, pull-ups, Pallof presses, and other back work to regain full function and start squatting heavy again. By February of 2012, I need to be at 100% to head into my baseball season, and I don’t want to look back with sciatic pain in my right leg and wish “I could have done more.”
Deliberate practice is really boring, painful, and soul-eating. But the alternative is a life full of regret. Don’t wish you could have done more.