I wrote this article back on January 1, 2015 during a time of extreme change in my life. Mistakes I thought I’d never forgive myself for led me to find what my real passion was: Strength. Sounds cliche, but ever since I wrote this article I have become stronger that I ever thought possible, in every aspect.
These words were written for myself during a time I needed a kick in the ass and to this day I read this article every few months, as a reminder I will never again feel as hopeless as I once did. I hope it serves as a friendly reminder to yourself, no matter what you have been through.
Life will throw unexpected things your way that are completely out of your control. If you have a plan, you better be willing to accept that at one point or another you are going to have to deviate from that plan. It’s inevitable that things don’t always go as you had hoped or planned, and at times that may seem unclear, and even downright unfair, but that’s life. The battle of life, in most cases, is fought on an uphill path. If there were no difficulties, there would be no success. If struggles and setbacks didn’t interrupt your plan, then what would ever really be achieved?
I want you think about your greatest moment in your sport (whether in competition or training) whatever that may have been for you. Maybe it was something very specific, like the time you surprised yourself with a new PR — one you previously saw as unattainable. Or, maybe it was the time you signed up for a competition that you knew you weren’t exactly ready for. Whatever this moment was for you it was your moment. Now, close your eyes and remember all the details about it, the more vivid the better. How did you feel right before, during, and after? How many emotions were running through your mind? What did you accomplish? How many times did you have to fail before you got to where you wanted to be? Hopefully this exercise brought a smile to your face, perhaps even a surge of adrenaline.
Now do the same exercise but with one of your worst moments. Maybe it was the time you got injured, the time you failed at one of your best events, again, whatever that moment may have been for you. After you do this, think about whether or not you want the good moments, or the bad moments to define you, because whoever you are, you have both. It’s important to allow yourself this self-reflection so you are able to see the big picture and dig down deep to find your own personal motivation as to why you do something. It’s sometimes in our weakest moment that we are able to find out how strong we really are, as those are the instances that impact our future.
Training for a competition, regardless of your sport, is a metaphor for life, there is good and bad. Regardless of why you compete, you train so that you are actually able to compete, against yourself and others. During training, you set certain goals and expectations for yourself, sometimes you exceed these expectations, and sometimes you fall short. If you compete in strong(wo)man you are lucky because you are never training for the same events, as the sport differs greatly from one competition to the next. If you love this sport then you also probably love the challenges that come with it, some events you can own and some you could certainly live without.
You could spend hours analyzing all the variables and constants in training but it all comes down to one thing- how you handle it when you’re not “where you want to be.” The only thing that remains constant in training is that you never know what to expect — there are good days, mediocre days, and downright horrible days where you feel completely defeated. Anyone can tell you to move on and leave it behind you, but often it’s not that easy. No matter what adversities come your way, in training or in life, it’s all about how you deal with what lies ahead of you. I once heard “simplicity is the key to brilliance,” this is a hard thing to accept, especially in a society where we over-analyze everything. Truth be told, if you keep it simple and just move forward (or on), then, and only then, you are able to make progress.
Don’t ever question whether or not you deserve something; it’s all about the work you put in. Training is a physical and emotional state, much like life where there is happiness, sadness, joy, angst, frustration, pain, excitement, determination, pride, fears, tears, sorrow and laughter. All these adjectives are though are words. It’s up to you to define them and ultimately choose how you let your training impact your life. If you learn to take the good with the bad, I can guarantee training will only make you stronger in every single aspect of life.
When training and life gets tough, giving up is the easy option. It’s in the midst of your failure, that you must dig deep and find your passion, the invincible passion that will carry you through. I urge you to focus on your greatest moments, if you continue to think like that and let that fuel your fire, then soon enough the great moments will be what defines you, as an athlete and person. No matter what, always be willing to embrace the failures, without them, your great moments wouldn’t shine. Now go lift some heavy weights, because life is a lot like squatting, when there’s a heavy load on your back- you need to get back up.