It is so loud inside of my head. Too many, “minds.” Today was a failure in many aspects as a training day. It started from the very base of my body: my ankles (thanks Coach Brendan). I missed lift after lift. Some I could stick, but even those I was unsatisfied with. In my own frustration I was screaming F-Bombs, slamming the barbell, walking away and angrily ripping it through the air. There was so much happening. Other people were training, there was music booming, I was concerned about the volume of the rep scheme as each lift got heavier and heavier within the set… and the percentages kept rising…. The stakes kept raising….
Once, when I was training Urban Warfare in the Marine Corps in 2007 I had a similar experience. An urban setting for a gunfight is the most difficult setting to be in. So many minds. Moving with your squad as a cohesive unit that thinks as one, covering your geometry of fire, fighting absolute terror, pushing through exhaustion and blurry vision, yelling commands, clearing each room, bounding through streets, “pieing” openings… the amount of things to be considered is astronomical and the stakes are death. We were being graded and I could see where our mistakes were happening as a Fire Team leader at the time. Each time through I became more and more frustrated as each mistake happened. As the mistakes stacked, my frustration grew and it started the snowball. I was placing so much pressure on myself because I knew that we were going back to the killing fields and some of these marines under me were so young, and didn’t truly know what was coming their way. That placed even more pressure on me. My squad leader at the time came up to me (who was Killed In Action in 2009) and sat me down: “Riddle, it’s not easy. Relax. You’re doing a fine job, sure there are mistakes, but that is what training is for. When it comes time to pull the trigger, the one who lives will be the one who has made the fewest mistakes. Keep training, keep making mistakes. When the time comes, you will have failed so many times you will have no choice but to be able to succeed. Also, lighten up., Smile some, some of this shit is funny.” He was right. I needed to learn to laugh at myself some. By learning to smile at your mistakes you take some of the pressure off, and you realize that you’re only human. With less pressure you become more relaxed. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
I thought about this moment after training today, as I felt very defeated leaving. None of it is easy. If I always stuck my lifts, if I always won… I do not know that there would be any benefit here. I thought about the root of the problem: My ankles. Such a simple concept. If you don’t nurture and train a good base for the movement, you are destined to perform sloppily. By mobilizing my ankles more I create a more sound base in which to rely on. Then, instead of thinking about the next 4 percentages of weights with 12 lifts each in them, and getting heavier… I should focus on the lift right in front of me, that one moment. Do not worry about the next 48 lifts, think about where you are in that moment in time, lift to the best of your ability in that moment, drop the weight, and then move on. I am only human. I once again need my late squad leader here to tell me to laugh at myself a little. It’s going to be ok, just keep training.