Diaries of a Coach 022 || The Cost of Avoidance Training
Yesterday I made an announcement to the five people who were participating in Open Gym at the time. After getting their attention, I’m sure quite obnoxiously, I proclaimed with great pride, “I’m going to run.”
May not sound like much, but if you’ve been around me in the gym for more than five seconds you know that I have a hate/hate relationship with hitting the pavement. I hate running, running hates me. We’re good with it, it works for us. Or so I thought.
The last few weeks I’ve felt an inkling of a conviction that maybe this whole running thing should get a second thought. Maybe it’s all this silly talk from coach Tim about “running season” in our programming. It’s initiated some internal dialog for me regarding training and truly investing in my weaknesses.
Let’s be honest, I would love a workout with some heavy clean and jerks, some rowing, some kettlebell swings… those movements are money in the freakin’ bank for me. But what happens when we leave out all the movements we hate is extremely narrow training that has extremely narrow benefit, both physically and mentally. And we might think we want narrow training, but who wants narrow benefits? Not me. Not only would we never get any better at said movements from a physicality standpoint, we would never experience the benefits of enduring through challenges and failures and reaching success only after much diligence and dedication. That shit builds character y’all, not just in the gym, but in life.
So why do we hate and avoid certain movements? Apart from physical restrictions (mobility, work capacity, strength deficiency, etc.), more than likely it’s our pride. We don’t like to feel insufficient or less than capable. So we avoid these things at the cost of potentially gaining the strength and skill we need over time and discipline. I experienced a very similar conviction a few months ago regarding heavy front squats. I hate them, and was avoiding them, because they are hard and make me feel insecure in my ability. Who likes to feel like they can’t do something or do it well? But I realized avoiding them was only worsening the problem.
So what do we do? We take initiative. Hear me say, this isn’t easy. Liken it to approaching that severed relationship in life that you know you need to make right. Or setting up boundaries to avoid spending too much money or drinking too much alcohol… whatever the issue may be. That takes admitting the problem, and then putting time and work into a solution. I’m tired just thinking about it.
Eventually, with front squats, I came face to face with my inability and hopped on the coach Dylan train to get my heinie on a squat program. If I hadn’t taken the initiative, my squats would probably be exactly the same today. Doable, but with no hope for progressing or gaining the strength I need. What we need to do is force ourselves to hang out at or near our point of breakdown. Train it, improve it. And then we push that line back over time, little by little, and things become easier. That’s why we train the way we do (you see it most clearly in working with percentages in strength cycles).
But now it’s time for me to take the initiative with one of my biggest foes. Running. I’m not happy about it, and that’s ok. I want the benefit of growth, to be a well conditioned athlete because I worked at it and for it.
So WHEN you catch me running, say hi, run a lap with me or simply encourage me to keep going because I can guarantee you I am fighting the internal battle of wanting to quit, and probably cussing up a storm in my head. What do you need to intentionally spend time on? Where do you need help or accountability? Or asked better, what are you avoiding in the gym? Why? How can you take the initiative to actually improve instead of avoid?
Good luck out there guys. Be brave and tackle the hard thing!