• DON’T EVER THROW IN THE TOWEL.

    By third year University I was captain of the Track & Field team, but in first year I didn’t make the team and had to beg to even train with them. 
    ——
    Our day to day actions determine the expression of our potential. This is a story about fitness, but it’s true with anything.

    An artist that rarely practices their craft will never be what they could. A talented musician that doesn’t practice hours per day will never be great. A gifted quarterback that doesn’t study defensive schemes will underperform and fizzle out.

    In high school, I won 8 provincial titles in track & field and 2 OFSAA football bowl games.

    In third year University I was on of the captains of the UWO (Western) Track & Field team, one of the more illustrious programs in the country.

    However, In first year University I nearly quit the football team, and after not making the track team, I had to beg to stay on and even train with the team.

    What the hell happened in between those years?

    Twice in my life I have had very real feelings that I may be done with athletic ventures.

    This is the story of the first.

    To set the stage; in my final year of high school I had a really bad ankle injury which certainly didn’t help. I lost my entire final year of track. During that time I’d also been getting recruited pretty heavily for football…and at 165lbs I figured I needed to put on some weight. So I did…

    Between actively eating everything I could, working out tons, and being pretty immobilized in terms of running, sprinting, etc. I created the perfect storm to show up to University a shadow of my former self- lean, quick, and confident in my abilities. Instead I was about 20lbs over my normal weight, much slower, and beginning to doubt myself.

    I showed up for football practice every single day knowing that I wasn’t going to see the field that year which was something totally new to me. Occasionally I’d have a flash of brilliance in practice, but they were few and far between. I knew full well this was going to be my last year of football, but I showed up each day until the end of the year and gave my best because I am not a quitter.

    When football ended I literally went over to track the next day and I couldn’t hide how out of shape I was.
    There were two meets early in the season that served as an opportunity to run qualifying times to make the team. (In my mind- “make the team!? I should be in the top ranks in Canada.)
    The team standards were peanuts. I was (as I’d always been) looking to win championship medals.
    I didn’t make the team standard and was left off the travelling team.

    Not only was I not on the team, but I was embarrassed and I KNEW that my time had no business being on the team. There was so much cognitive dissonance going on. I knew I could be good….but I wasn’t good.

    Again, I showed up for practice each day and I worked hard. The coaches saw this and decided to invite me to come run at a meet in Windsor. One of the lesser important meets of the season. 
I slept through my alarm and missed the bus. Actually I think I set it for PM. I remember waking up realizing it wasn’t to the sound of an alarm and just feeling sick. Grabbing what I could, I sprinted down the street in the snow thinking MAYBE there is some way the team bus hadn’t left yet. The walk back home was awful.

    They were ready to cut me loose, and who could blame them. I knew no one was taking me seriously, and that’s the part that bothered me most.
    I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I had to beg to keep my spot to even train with the team. Not to be on the team, but just to go train with the ones who would be competing.
    I honestly didn’t even think they’d let me.

    It’s a great lesson to learn (unfortunately the hard way) that when there are people in your life that want to help you, teach you, and invest in you- you’ve only got so many shots at it before you get written off as someone who just doesn’t want it enough.

    The season ended and I kept training on my own. My summer job was awesome. The hours were either 7-3 or 1-9. Lots of time to train either before or after work. I had mom’s home cooking again. It was also an Olympic year which fired me up like crazy. Everything was aligning.

    Friends that I normally partied or got into trouble with either took a back seat in my life, or were informed that I had goals to tend to. For 4 months I did not touch a drop of alcohol, no sweets or junk food, and no late nights. 
It certainly wasn’t easy. And I knew it was going to be harder when I got back to school so I actually set up traps for myself to test my resolve. Every weekday while at work I would buy a chocolate bar and hang onto it. When I got home I placed it on the desk in my bedroom. By the end of the year it was a pile. At any given point I could give in and no one but me would know- but I knew it would be a slippery slope. To me this was giving up. First it was a chocolate bar, next it was setting all the hard work aside for things that were easy.I showed up to school that year lean and mean. A good 20lbs lighter than I’d left. People on the track team didn’t even recognize me. I loved it. I felt great at practice…I was back.
    When the qualifying meets came around, not only did I make the team standards but I won my events.

    And as the story goes, the next year I was chosen as a team captain- a spot normally reserved for those who had been on the team 3-4 years.

    I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for sport and physical activity.

    They have given me so much structure and discipline in my life. They make me think more clearly. They make me happy.

    Often times when I meet people in the gym for the first time they in around that low point. They’re not happy with the way the look or feel. They’ve maybe let thing some things that have been important to them slip. The old saying “life gets in the way” is how we describe our situation. But it’s not going to change itself.

    I’m here to tell you I’ve been through this twice and come out on the other side better for it each time. The second story is about when track ended and I found CrossFit, but that’s for another day.

    If this strikes a chord with you, USE that emotional response.

    I’ve known hundreds of people at this stage in their life and one of the pivotal factors of how they’ll get through it is first their acceptance that what they are is not where they want to be.
    Some people make light about it or joke. Rather than doing the work, they are perhaps more concerned with the image they portray to others, hiding the things they are uncomfortable with rather than doing something about it. These are coping mechanisms and keep people stuck in the some place for a long time.

    The ones that take it head on and have an honest discussion with me (or another coach, family member, friend), are the ones who understand they need change.

    They put their head down and do the work.
    They deserve to be happy, too.

     

Leave a reply

Cancel reply