Hill sprints imitate life... or does life imitate hill sprints?

There's something about high intensity repetitions of an exercise (hill sprints is what brought this to mind) which is like life.

Just to be clear, when I say high intensity I mean - as much as you have to give at that time. Balls out, fast as you can, hard as you can. Clearly then, if you do a number of reps in that session your results will decline as your "best" is a little less each time as your tanks drain. How quickly it declines will depend on a number of factors e.g. time available for recovery; prior training inter alia.


We talk about our best effort but we should be clear, best effort is only a maximum of what is available at that given moment. Your "best" will depend on many things - fatigue; time of day; motivation etc And at the same time, it doesn't.


The measured output of the results of our best effort will vary dramatically. As will the ease with which we hit the stride of our best effort. But best effort is also absolute - it is everything there is. If you have given it everything, and you come out other than victorious in your pursuit you can be happy. I know that sounds like loser talk, I've been down that road before, but listen... You can be happy, not because you have tried (although to an extent there should be a degree of satisfaction in that) but because you know you can't yet do everything. This means that there is more to learn. This means you can yet be better still - if you want it. Being at the top, beating everybody, it is too easy to let complacency slip in. Before you know it you're losing ground, you're adding a layer of tarnish.

Back to my starting thread -

High Intensity reps like life? Echoes of life. Permisso [I'll talk in quarters, numbers of reps within those quarters will vary - see above]

First quarter - you're prepared for it, the thought never matches the deed but close enough that the shock is minimised as your heart rate goes through the roof.

The second quarter hurts and you find you're talking to yourself to get through - verbal cues - instructional or motivational - start to shift as you move through the reps to "just one foot after the other" or some facsimile of.

Third quarter all the doubts start to come out to play. You question why you're there, why you're doing it. You start to question your ability to finish. Here's where training on your own and/or writing your own programming becomes really hard. Training with others you have somebody to compete with... and misery loves company! If you trust your coach you believe that he would not set you anything that you can't do - well, apart from those sessions presaged with something like "see how many you can do" or "You will not finish this but let's see how far you can get" [although sometimes that's reverse psychology - rotten swine!].

If you're on your own it's too easy to bail on yourself, let the voices, those damn reasonable, logical voices, win. "You can't finish, stop here, there's no shame in it, you'll have a target for next time" - that's the role of a good coach, to keep an eye on that line for you. If you've done your own programming it adds an extra edge of criticism - "you might have been a bit ambitious with this - perhaps a couple less" or "bitten off more than you can chew (again)"

Last quarter - the end is in sight, so close you can taste it... or you could taste it if you weren't gasping for air so much. You may find that you can squeeze out a touch more than you could seconds before. Maybe not. But quitting at this point does not enter your head.

And you're finished. A sweaty, panting, shaking mess but finished. Maybe a smile of satisfaction as your legs quiver like you have St Vitus dance while attending a Shakin' Stevens convention.

Life? I think so. Romance too for that matter.

We charge in, ready for anything. It starts to get tough and we dig in. Our doubts betray us, we question and we long for that offered, seemingly easier alternative. At this point we learn what's important as we witness two groups in action - those who walk away or those who fight on because this is getting them where they want to be or because this is part of being where they want to be. It goes with the territory, or it is the territory itself. The disappointing thing is that in life we don't get the forced gasps for air at the end. The moment where we realise that we've done something surpassing our own belief in our ability. It needn't be that way but that's another story.

Mind you, it could just be me.

Cyprus - August 2010


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