Monday, 7 March 2011

Wanting to Win Vs Working to Win

Whatever your goal or aim when training, why aim for mediocrity?  I spoke to a couple of people recently who stunned me, when I asked them what they were aiming for, they said they wanted to get really strong, and yet after further discussion it seemed that the more they found out about how hard the process can be and how mentally tough one must be to keep battling, they said "oh well I don't want to be THAT strong".  I have come across this attitude before, and I always hear the same thing, they say they want to achieve something, and then when you explain to them what is involved, they slip into denial and start setting limits as to what they actually want to achieve. This is simply fear of committment and hardwork, and is something people should learn to overcome.
I have a friend who contacted me asking if I would give him some advice as to how to train in preparation for starting back into rugby for next season, after a 2 year gap.  I started explaining to him that first thing he should do is come down to the gym so I could check his technique on his main lifts (squat, dead lift, bench, power cleans etc).  I explained that if he wanted to get stronger, technique is paramount and should be a primary focus throughout any programme.  He came back with that he had 'pretty good technique already' and that 'he had been training in gyms for 8 years and although his technique might be perfect, it was good enough for what he wanted'.  I knew this wasn't the case, and explained that to build true strength, he must treat his training as a learning process and not just a 'workout'.  He then recoiled and after all his initial enthusiasm, said, 'Oh well I don't want to be THAT strong, I just want to get a little bit stronger'.  After this, all sorts of excuses came out including how he couldn't be bothered to keep a training diary, as he hated having to do homework.
This for me is a perfect example of the difference between a successful athlete and someone who will always be on and off the sideline bench for an average/poor team.  Lots of athletes want to win, but not enough as prepared to work to win.  Some small steps towards taking a more structured and organised approach to training, and a few words about how he was going to have to actually work on technique were enough to put him off.
If someone does not want to achieve much from their training and are happy pottering along, doing a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and getting a BIT stronger, and maybe putting on a little BIT of muscle, or getting a BIT fitter, or losing a BIT of body fat then I have no problem with this.  What I find frustrating is when people profess to want to win, they say they want to achieve great things, but when it comes down to it, they just can't step to the plate because they shy away from the hard work, and then start to lower their own goals in line with the amount of effort they really can be bothered to put in.
Now I haven't broken any world records, and it is likely I never will, but I have over the last few years taken leaps and bounds with my training.  I am stronger, fitter and more powerful than ever before, and it frustrates me when I get friends who ask me what my secret is, because there is no secret.  I have simply stuck at it. I've worked at it, and have persisted even when things seemed impossible or I lost sight of why I was doing it. When I've felt like my body has been through a million car crashes, or I've thrown up, or I've got ill, or I've just lost motivation.  I've had great training sessions, but I've also had shocking ones.  But there has been a driving force which has picked me up and told me to do it all over again the next day.
Nobody will give you it, you can't just want to win, to just want to get better, and stronger and faster and fitter, you MUST at all costs WORK to win, and be prepared to do EVERYTHING it takes.  You must point everything in the right direction.  If, for example, your diet is bad and letting you down, you have to ask yourself, what do you love more, cakes and biscuits, or nailing a new personal best on your squat?  It all comes down to how much are you really prepared to do?

Working to Win i

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