Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Embracing the Suck

I am slowly learning that a lot of things that I have been putting myself through over the last several years from a physical standpoint actually have names.

Last summer during the Wright Stuff Century my legs severely cramped up around mile 85 on a nasty hill. It wasn't a race, but I decided that I was NOT going to stop for any reason. I grunted, groaned and slogged my way up that hill, and stretched out the offending muscles in the saddle on the downside of that hill. Why did I do that? I was not riding for money, but I was determined not to let that hill beat me. And I had 15 miles left. That wasn't going to beat me either.

In our workouts at the gym I never, ever stop. I won't gasp for air like others and just stop in the middle of a workout. I want to do more, better. This helps me in things like sparring, conditioning, and tests.

I just called it "toughing it out", but apparently it officially called "Embracing the Suck". This is a military term that has apparently made it into every day speech. This is a great post about Embracing the Suck. They are talking about working out in such a way that occasionally you must push through extreme difficulty or you aren't getting much from your workout. I couldn't agree more.

Here is the money quote from that post (you should really read it in full):
I’ve always believed that the real benefit of exercise is in the persons mental development rather than the physical results. Size, genetics and other issues outside ones immediate control will limit the physical advantages you can gain over an opponent through training. Where we all start out on a level playing field is between our ears. Intense exercise, the type that makes your internal dialogue start telling you “this sucks, I cant go on anymore, just slow down, just stop, just quit”…but you don’t…that type of exercise sows seeds that you will reap later when you are fighting for your life and are approaching exhaustion. When your opponent is approaching that same threshold the person who quits is going to loose and reaching that quitting point almost always originates from the mind. Hard exercise, the type that approximates the exertion of a fight will give you a “stress inoculation” that makes all your training effort worth the time.

Along these lines, I have decided to embrace more suck and am taking up the 100 Burpee Challenge. To keep myself honest I have set up a new blog here so not only I but others can monitor my progress. You can see the details of the challenge here. This is going to smart, but I think I can do it.

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