W hen I played roller derby, I had a saying with some of my fellow teamies when we faced endurance practice, or a small roster and were skating double or even triple jams: It sucks, but we’re doing it anyway.
There’s a certain power that comes from agreeing to do the difficult thing. Our primordial brains often want to flee from activities or challenges we think will be too much or too hard. It’s very natural, but it can also get in the way of making the progress you’d like to make in training. While I really dislike the phrase, “No pain, no gain”, because it muddies the meaning of pain as a signal of impending injury or imbalance, the baseline meaning of it is pretty clear. In order to progress, we have to be willing to be uncomfortable.
In roller derby, that meant skating more jams, trying new positions and skills, challenging oneself to be the best skater and teammate possible. In weight training, it means slowly and responsibly adding more weight over time to make strength gains. In nearly all sports, it means putting in the time and effort to train effectively and become a better athlete.
It’s often hard. It often sucks. You’re tired, you’re tired of this exercise or repetition, you’re not good at it, you think it’s dumb, you’re frustrated, you just want to leave it all behind and go have a milkshake or a beer. I get it.
But your attitude matters here, more than nearly anything else. If you can take a breath and go, “It sucks, but I’m doing it anyway”, you have agreed to take on the challenge. You have consented to go the extra distance to make a difference.
I found that consent was the real key to being able to take on work I was initially resistant to. If you agree to do something, you own it. You can tell yourself that you can stop at any time, it’s not a prison, and you are not trapped, but because you want to get better, you are doing the hard thing. And then, at the end, you can own your success.
It feels really good to know that your success is solely your own. Sure, trainers can help you with a program that will help you meet your goals, and that’s important. But ultimately, your training’s success is up to your willingness to engage with it, your consistency, and your attitude.
The next time something is hard, acknowledge that it’s hard, and then agree to do it. See if you feel any differently.