Friday, June 6, 2008

Quit Pokin' me in the BUTT!

I was talking with Kurt while we were out in the Beartooth wilderness about discipline in training.

He has some great theories on SUCKING IT UP, and I thought I'd share some of them with you, so that the next time you face a situation that seems hard, less than fun, and necessary to reach your goal, you can just HARDEN THE F UP and get it done.

I have decided that I need to hike something steep every day. No matter what. (YES, rest day, YES. On that day I will do something different that is also physical, but gentle... just to put this out there, its NOT good to overtrain, and I am prone to it.)

But NOT hiking because its raining, or I am in the middle of a big project, or whatever the excuse might be just isn't cutting it with the goals that I have. This is not a compromise I can make, because when I take time away from this, I loose muscle, gain fat, and loose energy. The inertia of not having done something physical sets in, and if I can skip one day, I can skip two. Then its a week, I've gained three pounds of fat, and I feel lazy, sad, and disappointed in myself.

While we were in the back country, I was working on rhythm in hiking. Setting and maintaining a pace, matching my breathing to that pace, and not stopping even when it gets hard. If it gets very hard, slowing down, breathing deep until I feel that I am recovering. And then, the pace picks up again, and the rhythm sets in again, and up we go.

I got to practice this in actuality on the bootpack, because every time I slowed down, or stopped, I got poked in the ass with Kurt's ski pole. Hiking or skinning with him, like Angela, is a bit like following the Terminator around, "Ya, I will hike you now" they never slow down, never break pace, and are unstopable. I want that. I want my body to be that strong, consistent. YES its hard. YES I can get there. But only if I am willing to push through the parts that are hard to do it.

If I want to be there, be that fit, be that strong, have that kind of unending insurance so I can go SKI the things I want to ski, that means that when it gets hard, I realize that THIS IS WHERE THE WORK GETS DONE! I used to say it all the time to my coaching clients in Climbing. It hurts? Great. NOW we are getting strong. Because in Climbing, in anything where you are up against the evils of lactate threshold endurance, functioning when it hurts and its hard is where you grow. CAN you put your head down and keep going? Of course you can.

Yesterday, I got out of my car and I looked up at the cliffband on the steep side of the M trail, and decided that I was going to set a pace, and keep that pace, until I got to the cliff band, and manage my pain with my breathing, not stopping or slowing until I made my goal. I knew this was going to be hard, the M is very steep, much like a bootpack up a ridge line.

I started off, happy with my goal, and felt a bit giddy with the realization (the fourth or fifth time I've had this realization since the back country season started): I am so much stronger than I was at the end of the year last year! Fitness, apparently, is cumulative over the span of years, not just within week long training periods. I guess I've always known this, but I've never come back from SUCH a lack of fitness as I have in this period of my life to watch it happen.

This realization made me SO happy for my friends who are struggling to start some sort of fitness, the goal usually being to be thinner, because they are 30-80lbs over weight, and hate the way they look. And MAN, I know that place, it sucks. BUT the cool thing is that the journey is longer than that! Your body will make a new base line for fitness, and build on that, over and over again, until YOU who were 60 lbs over weight, and nearly sedentary (YES I AM talking about me LAST January!!) can look forward to a 20 mile run. I'm not kidding.

I digress.

Here I am hiking up the M. And about a third of the way up, I can feel my thighs, and I do a systems check... nothing is tired. I'm breathing heavier, my heart rate is up, and I can feel my thighs and calves, but none of it hurts. Why then, do I have the desire to pull over and stop? Why do I think to myself, oh, there is so much further to go? I wish I was done... Just rest for a sec, no one will know, slow down... like a nagging voice in my head...

And suddenly, as the voice gets louder, and I seriously consider slowing down, I feel someone poke me in the butt with their ski pole. Do you want to get stronger or not? This is when the work gets done. If you want this kind of fitness, you need to train to this kind of fitness. This is not a consolation buffet, oh, you went outside, therefor next time you climb something steep you will magically have the ability to be fast and consistent. This is a system of DIRECT work/reward. No work, no reward. And we aren't talking about LIPSERVICE, there is NO reward for that.

And I did it. And I'm stronger today. I didn't like it. It was hard, I had to check my will o meter constantly, not because I was tired, or hurt, or working too hard, but because I've given myself quarter in the past as I was training up to a level where I CAN expect more of myself. Guess what? I can expect more of myself now. Time to change expectations, ask for more, and follow through.

I bring this up for two reasons, I think its important for training at any level, a little honest discussion and reflection that asks you to work hard, so you aren't just SAYING "I want this" but doing what you can to build fitness to GET there, but also because it relates directly to my previous post of the day about derailing the train.

Are you trapped in your office? Are you staring at a huge pile of taxes, or websites you need to build, and you'd really rather just check out and watch South Park than get it done? Guess what? This takes JUST as much practice and discipline as hiking up something steep.

Sitting there wishing it was easier isn't going to make the pitch less steep or the paperwork less pressing. Sitting there thinking of all the things you should be doing while doing none of them isn't making it easier to get to your goal. If anything, it makes it harder, because now your critic is in your head, telling you you suck.

That's like adding another mile to the boot pack. Remember, anything done reluctantly is twice as hard. Your reality is really what you make it in this case. You can look at the challenge, and ask yourself "Can I do this?" Of course you can. You can do anything you put your mind to. One foot in front of the other until you realize you are stronger than you thought you were, you are almost there, you are doing it...

And if you need it, have someone poke you in the butt with a ski pole, it helps a lot.


Liat said...

Thanks for posting so much! It's lovely to read. And good job.. for everything!

a said...

Thanks, Liat! Time to catch up, I guess. I still have three days of skiing pics to post and some great back country stories to tell! xo