Training is hard.
It's hard for everybody. It's hard for me, that's for sure. And sometimes, it's harder than usual. When the training is not so hard...we train. It's work, and it's difficult, but we just keep training.
And when training is really hard...we train.
That's right: It's my answer to everything. A one-trick pony, I am.
I have reluctantly shared with a few of you that for about the last 6-8 weeks, squats have been torture. Not just because I'm squatting on 58-year-old arthritc knees that have run too many miles and thrown too many karate kicks and (according to Rip) done too many cleans and snatches.
That's just par for the course for me. The knees ache.
But add on to that a long string of training sessions where all the squats, heavy or light, felt grindy and clumsy and clunky and and just generally uncomfortable and wrong, and you're in an unpleasant space. I've been hating squats for almost two months now. No huge new form errors on my video, no injury, and the targets get hit...but my word, they all just felt like five-rep root canals. More and more, when it came time to squat, I wanted to just pack up and go home, or take weight off the bar, or drop a set.
But I'm the kind of guy who prefers to bang his head against the wall, dig himself in deeper, and stick needles in his eyes, just....because. So I just did them, feeling stupid and foolish the whole time. What business did I have coaching the squat if I couldn't even do a squat that didn't feel like a total shit-show? Maybe I'm wrong about ALL of this.
And then it was time to squat last night. I was alone, and could have just walked away from a nice deadlift session without squatting, no one the wiser. But--feeling like a fool--I just started doing them, super-hating the entire process.
And damn--they felt good. Strong. Smooth. Deep. Balanced. Almost fun.
Honestly, I have no idea. I didn't have some sort of technical epiphany, or find some deep, subtle technical error to fix, or have any visions or angelic visitations, or anything like that. The only new thing I brought to the bar last night was a bad attitude even worse than the one I brought to my previous squat session.
And they came together anyway. They felt clean and correct. Hard, like they're supposed to be, but not harder than they're supposed to be.
This will all happen again, as it's happened before. And it will end (and begin) the same way, because that's how training is. Athletes hit plateaus, sticking points, ruts. You fix what you can, look for errors, look to your recovery, ask for help, work the problem. All of that helps--but only if you keep training. You may not find a big form error. But keep training. You may not find a hole in your recovery. But keep training. Your programming or your technique or your mental picture of the movement may not be the issue. But keep training.
Plateaus aren't infinite, ruts aren't intractable, training setbacks aren't forever. Like life itself, training has good times and bad. And like life, you just have to plow through them, doing the right thing, training hard.
So you'll be strong enough to endure the next rough patch, when it comes.
And you'll be strong enough to fully live and enjoy the good times that always follow the bad.