Rocky and Bull...

It should not come as a surprise to me to find people forget the journey once they are safely ensconced at their destination. But it does come as a surprise. As a species we owe our survival to learning from experience and many of the psychotherapies for mental illness are about addressing the mental replay. So what about the disconnect here?

We know that success is an awful teacher and this amnesia is one of the reasons why that should be the case. There will be things to learn from and improve on but these fall away early in the euphoria of victory. Indeed, thinking about the psychotherapy, a good deal of that is about dealing with maldaptive beliefs and reactions, so much of which is coloured by experience. I was watching Rocky recently and something that illustrated the point stood out that I had not noticed/appreciated before.

It was the training montage ["everybody needs a montage"] that stood out. You know the bit, the sequence that has been copied and parodied a thousand times since ["even Rocky had a montage"]. Admit it, you can hear the trumpets right now! It starts with the early morning alarm call, moves to the bleary-eyed, raw-eggs drink by the fridge and ends at the top of the steps in triumphant pose. Go on, I dare you to tell me, with a straight face, that you have never run to the top of a set of steps or a hill and bounced at the top with your arms aloft! Or at least, never been with somebody who has!

It is an inspiring sequence which sticks with most people who have seen it. Well, I say people, mostly those with a Y chromosome! Here's a question for you - how many people remember the scene where our hero reaches the top of the stairs and is breathing out of his hoop? It is there, quite early in the sequence but it is there.

That does not fit with our heroic notions of champions. We see him working hard, sweating and gurning his way through the training. And why would he not sweat? The fifty alternating one-arm press-ups would do that. It makes men play the fanfare in their heads and want to train. The trumpet accompanies the transposed image of us there, cranking out the roman-chair sit-ups or having the medicine ball pummelled on the stomach. But we do not remember the barely finishing. We do not see the DOMS, or the stiff-legged  shuffle to the bathroom or the arms too tired to hold the coffee. We do not want to accept that it is part of the journey, that these things are a rite of passage.

And so we perpetuate this idea that training is about looking the part, about not struggling. That is why it seems to take so much of a leap of faith to get from the sofa to the start line. That is why so many of my fellow desk-pilots out there will fall by the wayside early on - to their minds they are obviously not in shape enough for this training thing, so they are clearly not cut out for it!

I am on record as saying that not every session should kick the living piss out of you but there is a tariff to be paid on any new venture. Whether it is quads so sore that sitting on the head is a challenge or perhaps the headaches that accompany the first wave of going paleo there is a price to pay.

Acknowledge it. Plan for it. Deal with it. Remember it.

Championships are won on sweat. Sometimes blood and tears enter the mix, but sweat is your constant. The challenge is not really the winning. The challenge is to keep digging in and pushing yourself when you have already been annointed.

That could be a good storyline for a movie. All we need now is a good soundtrack...


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