The Pain From The Game: The 4th Quarter and The 3rd Day

In Blog, Discipline, Mental Toughness
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It’s late December. The Miami Marathon is 5 weeks away.

And I’m already ready for this sh** to be over.

I’ve discussed this on an upcoming podcast episode, but I’ll say it here: what a spectator doesn’t understand about professional sports is what actually drives players to retire.

It’s NEVER the competition.

In sports, the games are the easy part. All those people watching, the fanfare when you win, and the games are actually easy compared to the preparation. [shareable cite=”@DreAllDay”]In sports, the games are the easy part[/shareable]

Professional athletes walk away from the game because they no longer want to do the training necessary to stay pro-level.

In his great leadership/Toughness book Relentless, Tim Grover shares what his client Michael Jordan said to Grover the day MJ decided to retire from basketball.

“If I ever see you in my neighborhood again, I’ll shoot you.”  

What Michael was saying, if you don’t get it, is the training Grover had MJ go through to be as good as MJ was is the real thing MJ knew he was done with. If pro sports was all games and no practice, there would be a lot more pro athletes walking the earth; no one would ever leave the game.

When Kobe Bryant announced that the current season he was playing was indeed his last, his reasoning: I cannot put my body through this anymore. Kobe wasn’t sick of the roar of the crowd or kicking some other team’s ass.

That 10:1 training-to-performance ratio is no joke.

The no-attention, grinding, hard work is the part you grow tired of.

Which is why I’m ready for this marathon to be done. I’m no professional at distance running; this is one-and-done for me.

For me, this last month has been – and will be – the hardest part of the whole thing.

In the month leading up to the race, training tapers off as I add more rest time to prepare to run 26.2 miles in (hopefully) less than 4 hours.

But this month? I’m running close to 200 total miles. That’s a lot of fluid, lost and replenished. Lots of ice. Lots of work days laid out on the couch, laptop on lap.

In doing anything that’s a challenge with a fulfilling reward, we all reach this point.

The work has gotten harder, the days have gotten longer, the act of doing it alone isn’t as fun as it was at the beginning, and any initial excitement others had for you when you announced it is long gone.

This is the point when people start questioning how great of an idea it really was. If you don’t ever reach the why am I even doing this? moment, you aren’t trying anything big enough to challenge you. [shareable cite=”@DreAllDay”]If you don’t ever reach the “why am I even doing this?” moment, you aren’t trying anything big enough to challenge you.[/shareable]

The next question is, what do you do next? Here are the options I see.

  1. Keep going – you’re not a quitter and you made a commitment – but your energy isn’t the same. You’re going through the motions. There’s no energy behind what you’re doing.
  2. Quit. You don’t owe anyone anything, and if you aren’t into it anymore, there’s not a damn thing wrong with walking away!
  3. Knowing this moment was coming, your energy rebounds and actually goes UP. One reason is you know most people don’t have the capacity to do this and you love separating from the pack. Another reason: quitting on yourself is worse than quitting on anyone else, and you could never stand to look in the mirror if you gave anything less than your best to seeing it through.

#3 is easy to say, though much harder to live out.

We’ve all faced the wall of fatigue – mental or physical – before. What did you do then? How have you improved since, and what are you doing now?

Lace up your sneakers. We have 10 miles to run.

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