“Bring. It. On.” That was how I ended my account of Week Two, confident of my ability to just nail Week Three. What the hell is wrong with me? I thought Weeks One and Two were tough but Week Three has been a new ballgame.
Of course, often the worst part of a workout is not the actual physical part but the mind games your head plays with you before and during the workout. Day One was hard, no doubt about it but if I hadn’t kept reading over the plan the day before and dreading what was to come, it probably would’ve been at least a tad bit easier. Starting off with the two mile ruck with a 30-pound rucksack was no joke. I’m just amazed by how heavy 30 pounds seems when it’s on your back and how much heavier it was than the 20 pounds from the previous weeks. During the first quarter of a mile all I could think was how on earth I could keep that up for two miles. That and how had I ever made it through the army when the rucks were heavier and the rest of you was weighted down with additional gear like Kevlars, canteens, weapon, ammo, and the like.
But I had made it through so why was I so feeling so demoralized about this little bitty old ruck? I needed an attitude adjustment and quick. I had not started the day off well, as a “non-essential” employee I had been furloughed due to the government shutdown and was feeling a bit like someone had suckered punched me in the gut. Worried about my job and worried about the jobs of my team I thought getting out to the park and getting my workout on would be just the antidote. But my doom and gloom seemed to be seeping into my exercise instead of being exorcised.
This particular morning was spectacular outside. A bright and fresh day that seemed to be tailor made for spending outdoors. I was lucky to be out in the park and here I was whining to myself that it was hard. I knew that my biggest enemy right now was me. I do that sometimes, get in my own head and convince myself that I can’t do it (too weak, or too slow, or too unathletic, or too whatever). Not often but I’m ashamed of myself when it happens. And this shit was STOOPID. This was completely within my capabilities so I needed to get over myself and get going. One trick I use a lot is to be my own little cheerleader. I’ll tell myself, “You’ve gone a quarter of a mile, next thing you know it’ll be a half mile and that means you’re a quarter of the way done!” Once I hit that halfway point I know I’ve nailed it. The logic I use here is that I’ve already proven I could do that distance so no excuses in doing it again for the second half. This works with sets too. By the time I hit the third set in a five set grouping I’m more than halfway done. So two more sets is a piece of cake. Yup, piece of cake… It’s a bit silly but it’s gotten me through more runs than I can count.
My little mind games worked once again against the naysayer in my head that lives to tell me how I can’t accomplish something. I finished the ruck and hit the gym for the rest of the workout. There were two more rucks this week but I had already shown I could do it so they didn’t stress me out so much and I got them done. Distressingly slow and with some blisters but done nonetheless.
And you know what? As good as you feel after a hard workout, you feel even better after a hard workout that you were convinced you weren’t going to be able to finish. After getting Day One over with, my attitude improved and Day Two was amazing. It was long and my muscles were quivering when it was done but I crushed it (meaning finished and not even having to modify any of the exercises) and my confidence really soared in comparison with my grumblings the day before.
Another confidence booster was a bike ride I did for some cross-training (and to keep my bike skillz, such as they are, up). It wasn’t a particularly tough ride, I mainly wanted to get my legs stretched out and maybe pedal some of the soreness away. However, since every good ride has to include at least one hill (and since hills are pretty much unavoidable anywhere around my area) I got to tackle an old friend I hadn’t seen in a few months. This hill was pretty tough. It started out all “I’m not so bad, just a long gentle slope, you’ll be fine, I promise” and when you were thinking you were almost done it took a turn and got all “Hahahaha, sucker, climb this!” But here is where the mental game comes into play again. I knew this hill, and I knew I could do it. It would suck but there was no way in hell it was ever going to win. I owned this hill. Here’s the thing though. By “owning” this hill what I usually meant was I got up and over it and my heart, although threatening to, didn’t actually explode. This week was different. I can’t say I was in danger of being ticketed for speeding by the time I got to the top but I felt amazing. My legs were sore from the endless squats and lunges and whatnot of the GoRuck training but they were also strong. I had never felt so strong going up that hill. I was still struggling some (that end bit is just not nice, bad hill!) but my struggles weren’t as hard as they had been any other time I’ve hit that hill. It inspired me and further improved my attitude.
One significant difference I noticed this week was how my body has adapted to the workouts. I’m still a bit sore afterward but it’s much milder than it was the first week. Week Three is done and I now know better than to bellow “Bring it on, Week Four!” Instead I’ll offer a cautious and polite hello. “Nice to meet you Week Four, let’s be friends.”