I struggled awake in the middle of the night, groggy and caught between dreamland and the sound of a splashdown. My dog had vomited a pile on the floor of my bedroom. Somewhere between the sloppy clean up and my alarm going off at 0500, I must have slept again- because I woke up feeling like I’d licked the inside of a garbage can. Repeatedly.
It’s test week, where I’m training. We’re wrapping up a twelve week training cycle and evaluating performance measures and our progress. No part of me wanted to participate in any part of that, this morning.
As I dug through my gear bag, I knew I was missing my running shoes for the suicide sprints. I was missing a towel for the shower and any feeling of awesomeness. Excellent. So this would be “bulletproofing”. Stress training. Reserve training.
When we are exhausted, run-out, mentally and physically, emotionally and spiritually depleted- that is occasionally an excellent time to undergo a true evaluation: when your 100% is pathetic, your reserves are shot in the ass, your sleep and fueling are sideways, you’re slightly dehydrated and mentally off your game… (wait, doesn’t that sound like any given day out in the middle of a glacier on a climbing expedition? ) the question is, can you still perform? Can you move your feet? Can you bring the pieces you DO have to the table, and let it be what it is?
I brought myself today. Exactly as I am. I failed repeatedly to meet any type of measure of performance. I moved from one stipulated movement to the next, acknowledging the absence of strength and endurance and acknowledging the fortitude of mental capacity that simply says, “Get up.”
I’ve been knocked down many times in life. I’ve been hauled off the mat, out of the ring, off to the bench, to the locker room- both literally and figuratively, more times than I can count. I’ve failed more times than most people have ever tried. The secret of my strength is vulnerability. The choice to show up for my own life every day- regardless of how chaotic, messy, disorganized, fail-whale, ridiculous or pathetic it feels or appears- is the renewable resource that is my titanium core.
When we refuse to sit it out, when we engage fully regardless of our perceived capacity, when we are willing to go to failure, to push the limits of endurance and strength and agility and power on the most DIFFICULT of days- we are “bulletproofing”. If I’m only willing to train when things are optimal, I limit the scope of my growth.
Adaptation is predicated on overload.
Today, I was reminded again and again that I am profoundly human. The sky came down and gravitational pull of the cement floor was powerful. The iron did not betray me- it always tells the truth. It weighs the same, regardless of whether or not I’ve slept or fueled or hydrated. My relationship to iron varies, depending on how well I’ve prepared.
Years of dedicated practice to the art of writing practically BEG me to wrap this up with a tidy little bow of a final paragraph that makes both you and me feel better. Not today. For each of us, today, there is only “mining the darkness and seeing by the path we leave behind”. Write your own beginning, today. Write your own chapter in your own blood, sweat and tears.
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