I vividly remember running 300s. Around this time of year, about 20 years ago. Skyline Football summer training camps, ahhh those were some formative years for this kid!
Usually we would start by running a mile for a warm-up. Some people would coast this, but I would usually try. I had just rode my bike about 6 miles to get there, so I was already warm.
Then we would lift weights for about an hour, usually a bunch of sets of 10 of squats, bench or seated military press, some power cleans and a few random machines. Our weight/locker room was basically a large storage shed, and it smelled like a bunch of teenagers’ dank workout clothes that seldom went home to wash. Ew. But after a while it was semi-pleasant reminder that this was a training room, where “boys became young men.” Bark bark.
If you’ve done some CrossFit or triathlon training, you know what it’s like to run on wobbly legs. But lining up on the starting line to run 300s in the sun on our dirt track, adrenaline was king. We were usually grouped by position, so it was expected you would compete, as you were also competing for a starting job.
3-2-1 go! 300 meters is almost a full sprint, taking about 40 second, and on the dirt track we were usually slipping while trying to pick up speed and get an inside lane on the turn. You also don’t really feel tired during these until the end — other than feeling nauseous from ramping up quickly — when your breath and legs catch up with you. But man, it would hit me at the end. We would walk the straightaway back to the starting line, and repeat for a total of 5-8 rounds.
Then we would have practice! During the summer this was a lot of drill and skill work, AKA more running, but mostly zigging and zagging and doing football things. As a defensive back (DB), we did a lot of backpedaling, which in retrospect built some strong quads for Thrusters years later, but my legs were done at the end of each day. And so were those of my DB teammates, and everyone for that matter. But after a while, I started to get this funny feeling: if we were all doing the same things, and we were all working hard, how could anyone hope to improve relative to everyone else?
I started to pay closer attention to details. Who would slack off a bit in the middle of something when no one else would really notice? Who would get there early and stretch? Who would make sure they had enough food and drinks packed to make it through a full day without bonking? Who would do extra reps of their skill/position work after practice or on other days? Who was hungry for a college scholarship? Who seemed to like being there and putting in the work, versus who was just paying their dues to play during the season? In short, how would some set themselves apart from everyone else?
And that’s when I started to improve drastically. On the surface it felt like just being more competitive, but over time the daily process of leaning into every small thing that would make me better became an end unto itself, and it became enjoyable for me to just do that without concern for the outcome. Who was selling out on the 3rd round of 300s? This guy :).
Now, this is a true story, and I didn’t become a star football player following this realization. I actually got injured (probably from doing too much), came back, and rode the bench for most of the remaining season. But it is a triumphant feeling to discover that you are much more capable than you thought, and it is something I definitely took with me and have applied ever since.
And here we are in 2019! What are some ways you can stand out today? You probably aren’t running for a starting position, but you may still be missing some opportunities to compete against yourself, which in my opinion is the greatest competition there is.
Furthermore, after doing hundreds of goal reviews with our members, I have seen so many recurring themes that the opportunities are obvious:
- Remember Your Why – You will excel as far as your Why is strong. Write it down somewhere visible, and recite it as your mantra every day. Tell some people you trust about it.
- Make A Plan To Show Up – We all know that showing up/consistency is 90% of everything, but with the juggling of responsibilities in adult life, it is all too easy to get derailed here. So make a plan to avoid this common pitfall. Write it on your big calendar at home, set an event with reminder on your calendar app. Tell your family and co-workers “I am setting aside this Me Time,” and then when they ask you to sacrifice it at a later date, say “sorry, this is my Me Time.” This is one of those Simple Not Easy things, but self-care boundaries are critical to your long-term growth, and that of your relationships.
- Pump Yourself Up – Practice daily gratitudes and affirmations, friends. Life is hard, you know. But the best know how to put on the manual override by talking to themselves in positive and self-motivating ways until they start to believe it as fact. Do it on the couch in the morning. In a quiet spot before you go in to work. In the bathroom mirror at the gym before class. Do it even if you don’t believe it at first. Through repetition, you will eventually.
- Track Your Progress & Preview – SugarWOD, duh! This isn’t just for PRs. Again, the best compete at the details. Come up with your ideal plan for tomorrow’s WOD. Show up 10 minutes early and write it down on a mini whiteboard. After the WOD, write down your rep breakdowns, strategy, and the quality of your Sleep, Stress, Fatigue, and Nutrition leading up. If you don’t feel like it, revisit your Why.
- Anticipate Change – Things don’t always go as planned, so that must be part of the plan too! Expect that your best laid plans will get derailed, but that it will ultimately make you stronger. This will be integral to Pumping Yourself Up, as staying positive will be how you get back on track right away when you have a setback.
- Listen To Experts – We see ourselves through colored lenses. A coach or 3rd party can help you see your situation more objectively, so that you don’t make as many avoidable mistakes. Invest in coaching and you will save so much time, energy, and money in the long run.
- Surround Yourself With Fighters – Not winners, but those who are also doing the courageous work of leaning into their own discomforts to grow, and striving to become the best version of themselves too.
To your continued growth,