More Than One Way to Skin a Cat, Part 2: Training Is Fun, Right?
When Jordan asked me to write a piece on why training was still fun for me, I’m not going to lie I really struggled.
These days when I think about training, I honestly don’t think about it as being fun. Approaching the age of 42, training these days mostly reminds me of how strong and how fast I used to be – or how much better my body felt.
I haven’t viewed training as fun in a couple of years now. To be completely honest, now I train because it’s my job and it keeps me performing at as high a level as I can maintain in whatever activity I choose. It’s my last little “fuck you” to my body as my sights set on middle age.
I view it more like brushing my teeth: it’s neither fun nor sexy, but if I don’t brush my teeth, they will fall out, which isn’t exactly fun or sexy either. I know my physicality will continue to deteriorate, but I plan to push it off as long as I can. Preventative maintenance….
So, this is where I found myself: struggling with this article, feeling old and beat up, trying to justify why the fuck I still did this to myself. Getting mad at Jordan for coming up with such a stupid topic and reminding me of how old and weak and slow I’ve gotten.
“Hey fuckers, quit being lazy pieces of shit and come pump with me.” Just like that Jake poked is head in the office and called Jordan and I out to come lift with him.
I didn’t really want to lift.
I was tired.
I was sore.
I had to write this stupid article.
But I wanted to fuck around on the computer even less and as Jake poked and prodded us I chose the lesser of two evils and I reluctantly grabbed my shoes and rolled out to the gym floor.
It took about two rounds into the warm up before the ball-busting and laughing started. We picked on each other, called each other out for being weak, or delicate and all other manner of insults and ribbing. And in that moment I was reminded a decade ago the three of us were doing this same exact thing on the side of Butler Hill. It was hot, the grass was so dry that it crunched under our feet, and the sun cooked us as we sweated, cussed and worked. Burpees, sprints, bear crawls all under that blazing sun.
We didn’t know what we were doing then, (Christ, we barely know now) but it didn’t matter. We met up every day and did our best to crush each other under the Texas sun.
That same Hill is where this gym started, and other than carrying a decade of age on us when you put us back into our element doing something we loved, with friends we loved, we laughed and joked and lifted and sweated and had a goddamn good time. A decade and probably several thousand training hours together later – we are still doing it.
My business partners are not only my best friends they are also two of my oldest training partners. Neither of these relationships would exist if it wasn’t for our shared love of training.
Every single person I call friend today, every single one, is someone I trained with at one time or another. Be it Atomic, running, cycling or jiu jitsu, we have all suffered together at one time or another.
Through training – through pushing my physical and mental boundaries – I have learned more about myself than I ever really wanted to know. But I’ve also found an amazing group of people that were fearless in walking that path with me. People that were willing to suffer and put in work with the only real reward being more work. People who the only commonality we might have is how we enjoy running, lifting, grappling, sweating and suffering together – and that’s more than enough.
A few years ago I realized how little joy I got in my training successes, how important they seemed as I worked towards them, but how trivial they seemed when I accomplished them. And obviously as I aged these successes became fewer and fewer before they stopped all together. It made me question myself and training and what we did. But in this desperation I found something else, I also found out how proud I was of my training partners. Their PR’s, their competitions, their races, their good days, their promotions were something that we shared together. Experiences that would have been incomplete if we hadn’t shared them, and impossible if we hadn’t been there together.
The same thing, maybe even more so, goes for our failures. There have been many more failures over the years. Enough injuries, meltdowns, freakouts and sufferfests to make you never want to step foot in a gym again. But in the same vein, these experiences were shared. Every time I’ve broken in a training session, and there’s been too many to count, I was never alone, and neither were my training partners. We’re in it together, good days and bad. Always.
In this way of shared experiences, training parallels traveling. Sure you can do it by yourself, you can see and do amazing things. You take all the selfies. But when you look back at all of those photos you don’t have anyone who shared the experience. No one stood with you and no one who knew what lead to those moments or what those days were like. Sure they can see the flat picture – but they will never, could never comprehend what it took to get there.
I don’t keep photos of my solo adventures. Those days come and go like a whisper. Every photo, every memory I have is with someone special: someone I shared experience with. Always.
I keep a photo on my mantle Jake gave me a few years ago – it’s Jake, Alex, Seth, and myself kneeling on a snowy mountaintop and everyone who looks at it remarks how beautiful it is. I never see natural beauty in the photo, I see the sweating, and cussing and falling down and us getting our asses kicked up and down that mountain. The real beauty is behind the image. But I don’t talk about that – that was our experience. Something we shared, and something no one else understands because they weren’t there.
So that’s it, that’s why training is the backbone of my life, that’s why I keep training and that’s why it will be fun for me. Always.
So thank you Jordan for coming up with this stupid topic and reminding me that training is a little bit more fun than brushing my teeth, even if for no other reason than your dumb face always making fun of my weak ass military press. Always.