You Can Always Find a Way Around the Roadblocks of Life
The upperclassmen could always count on at least one freshman vomiting into a trash can on the first, brutal day of our 6 week conditioning period. 3+ mile warm up runs, 30 minutes of calisthenics, and then a myriad of stair sprints, hurdle hops, medicine ball tosses, fartleks, continuos relays, etc. I must say, having been both an athlete and coach, that it was much more enjoyable to be watching than slugging through each and every day… finishing up in the sport medicine facilities with ice packs and vitamin I (Ibuprofen) to prepare for the next onslaught.
But the rewards were worth it because we were routinely one of the top division 3 track and field teams in the New England region. In six weeks, we could all see noticeable improvement in our endurance, strength, and mental discipline.
Then came the ultimate test—winter break.
The Mental Challenge
It’s easy to practice when you have:
- 40+ teammates cheering for you.
- Great facilities.
- Several coaches breathing down your neck.
- Accountability partners.
- A sign in sheet.
- A constant barrage of emails to remind you.
But when winter break rolls around, you lose all of that. Rather than passionate team mates, you’re now surrounded by old high school friends that no longer participate in physical activities. Instead of an amazing track, you now have icy roads and limited access to a quality gym. And accountability? Anyone can lie over an email…
When winter break hits, the game is almost purely mental. This was proven time and time again by athletes with great physical prowess coming back worse than when they left. One multi-event athlete famously gained 15 pounds of beer gut weight in less than 21 days. Only those with mental toughness and creativity would find ways around the these external factors, preventing them from becoming excuses.
Warnings from a Hardcore Coach
The challenges of winter break were never a surprise because our coach would give us the same 30 minute lecture every year. He’d tell us in his day, he’d simply screw in 1” spikes to the bottom of his race shoes and run on pure ice. Or if he didn’t have time to get his mileage in because of a long series of flights, he would wear his workout gear on the plane and run his mileage in the terminal (this was clearly pre-9/11).
And no, this wasn’t the ole “I used to walk 3 miles to school each day uphill both ways” type of exaggerated claims from our older generations. This man had gone through 9 knee surgeries and eventually lost his ability to run after having pushed his limits too far.
20 Minutes of High Knees in 20 Degrees
My first year winter break was extremely challenging. 4’ of snow resulted in huge snowbanks on the sides of the road. The local gym in Johnstown had gone out of business. There wasn’t a whole lot of (open to the public) weight room time at my old high school. And it was usually 20 degrees during the day.
In summary: it was not a situation that was conducive for training for the pentathlon (hurdles, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 1500 meter run). It was barely conducive for push ups, situps, and jumping jacks.
But I wasn’t going to let that ruin my first season. So I found myself in full sweat pants attire in my garage doing 20 minutes of high knees and butt kicks in order to mimic what 3 miles of running typically felt like. Without a bench, I did pushups. Without a squat rack, I did lunges until I fell over…. all in a room that was probably 20 F and in the floor space of a single car. It wasn’t fun, but I stuck with it for 3 full weeks until I could return to normalcy on the track.
Am I special? Hardly. All 40+ members of my team had to make due in their own set of adverse circumstances. But the athletes that found ways around these alleged blocks were able to successfully improve upon their results from the 6 week condition period. It was for that reason that we were such a powerhouse team right out of the gates in the indoor season.
Getting in Done in 2012
I almost let myself off the hook this morning. I typically do one exercise routine every day, not because I’m trying to stay in shape, but as a means to keep my mental discipline strong and to get the rush of endorphins. Because of my foot injury (6 screws in my left ankle), I tend to steer clear of high impact activities and sports. So how do I get around my blocks? I moved toward isometric and body-weight exerices.
This morning I was slated to do Hindu Squats, which are weird looking but amazingly powerful form of exercise. However, since we moved into the upper portion of a duplex in Fort Collins, I’ve had some hesitation towards doing my exercises for fear of disrupting the neighbors below. This, of course, was my excuse.
But just like my winter breaks workouts from almost 12 years ago, the garage was calling me out and saying “well if you can’t work out inside, work out here.” So while still wearing my flip flops and khaki shorts, I busted out my full work out then and there. Mission accomplished because I felt accomplished (and severely out of breath!)
Brainstorm 3 Ways Around It
I really think a lot of us like our perceived blocks as it gives us an external excuse for NOT doing the thing we fear/resist. But if you take just a few minutes, I bet you can come up with at least 3 ways around the block. They may not be comfortable. They may be annoying. But they you move from an excuse to a choice. At that point, you’re deliberating deciding NOT to do the activity versus having something else prevent you. Stick with the choice you know you need to do, and you’re well on the way to self-empowerment.
Try it right now! What is ONE thing you’ve been procrastinating/resisting? And now what are 3 possible ways around it? You’ve now moved this block from an external excuse to an internal decision. The choice is yours.
And if you found this article beneficial or if it resonated with something that happened in your life, I’d love to hear about it below!
About Rick Manelius
I'm a Drupal Ninja (brown belt), an aspiring author, a personal development fanatic, and an overall explorer of life. I own SoundPost Media, LLC— a Drupal agency that works with small to medium sized media compaies looking to improve their presence on the web. Stick around by subscribing to my feed, following me, or simply leaving a comment below. I appreciate you stopping by!