Monday, October 21, 2013

Quitting

I was at the pool the other week tired from a weekend of long workouts. I will admit I was just basically going through the motions. I swam each set as it was given to me. I meandered through the warm up. I put in a mediocre attempt at getting my heartrate up during the warm up sprint set. I followed directions by just dialing it in. Oh so ho-hum. I wasn't thinking about the day of the week or of the month. I wish I had because then I would have know what was coming. 1K for time. Yep, on the first Monday of every month we do a 1K for time. And, yep, I forgot all about it. Sadly Johnny Tango gets me every time with this little test set. :30 before the set started the strap on my goggles broke so I was at least a minute behind from the git-go. I tried to get psyched up about the chance to test my fitness - and I did - but it only lasted for the first 200/300. Catching my lanemate 400 into it kept me interested but things kind of went downhill from there. I could no longer focus and I ended up losing count. I do not know about you but I find it hard to lose count when I am doing a hard effort like that. I painstakingly count every lap eager to bring an end to such a torturous moment in my day. My 1K was ok but I do not feel like it represented my current level of fitness. I brushed it off and continued with the rest of the workout. We finished up with 10x 100 pull and then 4x 200 IM. Part of me did not want to do that last set but I faked my way through it and I am happy I did. My lanemate, however, did not. He was not struggling with the interval or anything but made 3 of the 4 and just quit with one to go. One to go. How many people just quit with one to go?



Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to quit. Sometimes you have a limited block of time to squeeze in your workout. Sometimes it just gets too cold or too hot to continue to push the workout you were planning. Physical pain is a pretty good reason to cut a set short but so is mental discord. Maybe your mind is focused on something else going on in your life and you just can't be present in the moment - your attention is elsewhere but you become frustrated with your inability to hit your targets during a workout. Sometimes you just have to prioritize the problems that plague you and move on. It happens and it is OK.

But occasionally you don't quit for a legitimate reason, you quit just because. Maybe the workout presented to you just seems soooo hard. Maybe you think it is stupid and pointless. Maybe you tell yourself you're not good enough, you're not fit enough, you're not whatever enough to continue . . .  ultimately it does not matter what excuse you make when you are making excuses. Quitting should be the exception, not the rule. Habits are easy to form but so very hard to break. A lot of people think the act of cutting corners doesn't matter but it adds up. You quit once then it becomes a little easier to quit a second time and even easier a third time . . . add fatigue in there and oh man does quitting get even easier! How long before you can quit something and not feel an ounce of guilt about it? 

The funny thing about fitness is you don't make gains doing the first repeat fast. Anyone can do the first one fast but who is left standing at the end? You make strides in your training when you dig yourself in a hole and fight your way back out, physically and mentally. I grew up with the  saying "last one, fast one" and it has become the paradigm I apply to all my training. 



The other night I had to do a 50 minute run. In order to get out the door I told myself I was going to run from Point A to Point B as slow as possible and if that meant I had to cut the run short then so be it. I slogged along for the first ten minutes but then my turn over picked up and I was running my regular aerobic pace. I decided to run a little beyond point my turn around point but I was still committed to cutting the run short if I ran back faster than I ran out. I got back to my starting point with 4 minutes left and I just could not bring myself to quit. 4 minutes is a lot and at least half a mile so finished my run as it was scheduled. Why? Because I am not comfortable quitting. Are you?

Take a moment to watch this. At one point it looks as though the race between the US and France is over. The French anchor, Alain Bernard, has over half a body length on the US's Jason Lezak. In swimming, where races are won and lost by as hundreds of a second, half a body length is forever. Jason and the US team made history with this swim. If he had quit, not only would they have lost to the France but Michael Phelps would not have won 8 gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Jason Lezak didn't just become the guy who doesn't give up. He trained himself to be that guy. Who are you training to be?


2008 Beijing Olympics Swimming Men's 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay Final
from Meazza on Vimeo.