A few years ago Joel Snape asked me to write a pithy quote about training philosophy for Men’s Fitness UK. He might have even offered a paragraph. Sometimes over-delivering is the right thing but it is rarely true for the written word. Less is always more. But I just couldn’t. I waited until the energy coalesced around an idea, switched on the machine and let it rip. I figured he could pull what he thought most powerful from the text. After it was published I looked it over and thought it could use a bit more flesh on the bone so I added some.
This is a recipe. Some ingredients are hard to come by, and even more difficult to prepare.
Recognize the need for change.
Revolt against old behavior and habits.
Resolve to be consistent and persistent.
Define Point B: what you want to achieve, clearly.
Define Point A: an honest, unsentimental account of your present state.
Decide on a deadline, and give yourself a penalty for missing it. Be realistic.
Design the training program: seek guidance.
In short, build a solid foundation, write a long training history, and accept a longer trajectory. If you need it three months from now you should have started three months ago. At least. There are no shortcuts. This is a long-term process and it should last for the rest of your life. You will not “arrive”.
Do not over-emphasize the physical. I’ll say it again, “the physical part is easy.” You will fail first in your head. Always. Or talk yourself out of it. If you keep saying it’s hard, it will be. If you treat training as a chore, it’s drudgery. The pretense of difficulty is just an invitation for social feedback. Do you really need an audience? Do you need affirmation from others — who are probably lying anyway? Leave them out of it. If it depends on them they can revoke it at any time. But when you earn it you get to keep it.
Change your attitude. Unfuck your head. Make an honest, unsentimental accounting of your present condition. Prepare to be disappointed. Define what you want instead, clearly. By clear I mean precise, and feasible. An unrealistic objective is sure to sabotage the process. Hit the books. Try and err. Inquire. Risk. Mimic. Insist. Resist.
When the voice inside says, “no” take another step.
When the voice invites you to quit, don’t.
When you think you can’t go further, bluff.
When you are certain you have given everything you have, when you bluffed and got called, when you went further or harder than you believed you could, and know that in a few months you will look back without second-guessing or regrets, it will be OK to fail. But do take notes.
After you fail — and you will — show up the next day. And the day after that. If you can’t train, watch. If you can’t see, listen. If you truly want to learn you can learn from everything. Eventually, you will. And you will take what you know and DO, and keep doing it, and the road will rise to meet you.