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Train Like a Woman!
By Christine Uberti, CSCS
[Originally appeared in The Code 09.18.03]
"What I really want to do is quit," I think as I turn the corner to yet another upward climb on the Day 2 of my hike. I've had enough of this foolishness - this suffering. The temperature is 95 degrees. I've hiked, climbed, descended. Over and over. My blood is pounding in my temples, I feel nauseous, my quads burn and burn on the downhill and I hate my hiking shorts. I thought, "I'm going to have to call my husband and tell him I have to come home." I also thought of the introduction we received before this 70-mile hike of the Calabasas mountains: "Throughout this week, it will help you to remember that you are here because you want to be."
Day 4 of the hike is called "Bull Dog." It is considered the toughest day of the week. (On Day 3 I puked up my electrolyte drink and had to drop out after 6 miles.) Given my experience all week, I decided that I just had to live through the day. That was my goal.
Bull Dog starts with about 7 miles straight up a steep hill. I looked up with not a little bit of dread and started walking. Somehow I remembered that I needed to be able to breathe. My pace became dictated by my ability to breathe as deeply as I wished. I didn't care about finishing first. I cared about breathing. As I took in these deep breaths and made myself feel comfortable, I passed several other hikers.
Slowly, but surely, my mood improved. By the time I reached the top I was loving the experience. I felt exhilarated in the purity of succeeding with simple, brute force. I thought, "Was that it?" I did the rest of the 15-mile hike feeling positively giddy. (Maybe I was high from the oxygen, but who cares. Stick with me.) That evening, everyone was exhausted and cranky. But I was clearing dishes, helping with the cleaning and generally bouncing off the walls. Someone said, "Wow, Christine. You're really on today." I told the whole room that today was my favorite hike of the week. And the easiest. A few years ago, I was talking to a trusted friend about a particularly difficult situation in my life. I just didn't know how I was going to make it through. He said, "By loving every minute of it."
The "meaning of life" is exactly the one that we, ourselves give it. One may associate pain or pleasure to any activity. It depends on the questions you ask of it (e.g., "Why does this always happen to me?" versus "What can I learn from this experience?"). It depends on where you put your focus.
I get up at 5 am to do cleans and jerks. I'm tired. The weights are too heavy. I want sit down with a cup of tea instead of this madness. It's hell.
I get up at 5 am to do cleans and jerks. Blood flows through my veins and reminds my body that I'm alive. My legs work to put the weight up. I can feel my muscles. My heart is pumping. It's heaven.
Outtalking your negativity by thinking positive thoughts is nice, but this won't work -- because you have to think about it. If you have to think about it, then you might already be responding by playing your old tape before you even have a chance to think your positive thought.
What you must do is believe in the pleasure of the environment. The meaning you give it makes all the difference between what you are capable of doing and what you actually do -- and for that matter, what you look forward to doing. Decide what your goal is. Then think, "What will I have to believe to achieve this goal?"
You can train for fitness or transportation, but if you don't enjoy it, you will find other ways to entertain yourself or to get to work. On the other hand, if you like training because it makes you feel alive and strong or because it clears your mind and improves your mood, you will naturally want to train. You will want to challenge yourself with faster times and heavier weights.
The anticipation of attempting a new goal is one of the best rewards of training like we do. Not being 100 percent sure you are going to succeed is part of the challenge and adds to the excitement. Not being 100 percent sure you are going to succeed can be part of paralysis and add to the fear. See what I mean?
I train simply for the experience of living. I want to discover what I am capable of doing. I want to know extremity, because there is life in risk, and nobility in the breach. I want a life lived fully.
I'll close with this thought: What do you associate with the word, "failure"? Here is what Thomas J. Watson, Sr., one of the founders of IBM associates with this word:
"Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure - or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that's where you will find success."
Christine Uberti is a clinical research consultant, musician and writer. She is a certified kettlebell instructor through Pavel Tsatsouline and Dragon Door and has a CSCS certification through the NSCA. Christine studied yoga and pranayama with Swami Yogiraj V. Subrahmanya Bua for 8 years. She is an original Renegade Boot Camp participant and Inner Circle member with an undying thirst for knowledge and progress. Being fairly nerdy, Christine is quickly amassing a large library of strength and conditioning books. Information will be assimilated until her head explodes. In addition, she will be doing her first adventure race one year from now. No electrolyte drinks will be consumed. Christine can be reached at email@example.com.