It’s 6.00 am and you’re roused from sleep with blisters and sore legs.
Have you experienced this? Do you know what I’m talking about?
Let me give you some more clues.
The heat hangs in the morning air and the day is ready to begin with the rising sun. You grab your runners and wake up your roommate along with 25 other guys. The smell of pain is in the air while the faces of your teammates paints a picture of misery.
The coach takes a head count and everyone’s here. No one has escaped and you don’t feel fully awake yet. Any ideas?
Does Pre-season Camp ring a bell?
The coach and the assistants are probably no more awake than you, but they will not feel the pain. Pre-season with the addition of heat has the ability to crush you. Chances are you’re already losing your mind and conjuring up excuses why you shouldn’t train. My blisters hurt. My hamstrings are tight or I’m feeling sick.
If it does put your hand up and keep it up. For those of you reading this with your hand down, I’m sorry but you’re lying.
Training begins and the pain sets in. You struggle through another brutal session and return back to your hotel room.
The cloak of night closes in and sends you and your fellow teammates to bed. You are sore, the legs are heavy and you wonder how you ever got so unfit during the off-season. The thought of tomorrow and the increased drills and doggies haunts you as you try and sleep.
The sun rises even stronger and the heat has accumulated from the day before. You look up at the sun and you could swear that it’s smiling down on you, laughing at the pain that awaits you.
The moans and groans increase as the coach announces the training drills and the never ending sets of “doggies”. For those of you that don’t know what a doggy is, it’s a sprinting workout which has 5 cones separated by about 5 feet. You sprint to the first one and return to the starting position. The next group begins. When they finish you begin again, but this time you run to the first cone and back and then continue to the second cone and back. Next group starts again. Before you know it, you’re repeating this drill 5 times with each set becoming longer and longer.
By the 5th set your lungs are about to burst and your legs no longer listen to your brain. Simple running patterns become difficult and the motion of left foot before right foot becomes brain surgery as you gasp for that oxygen.
Do you know the pain?
The pain when your hands are on your knees and every breath you take feels like the last breath you’ll ever take. The pain that doesn’t let you drink water because the heart is pounding so hard on your chest that you think you are going to die.
That my friends is the pain you need to embrace and hunger for. A great coach once said to me after an exhausting session that pre-season isn’t designed to hurt you or punish you.
“It’s designed to hurt and punish your opponent”.
After a solid pre-season you have the confidence, strength, fitness and the ability to crush your direct opponent. You will look at him and laugh because the pain you felt 2-3 months ago will become his nightmare.
The pain you felt 2-3 months ago will now be inflicted on your opponent as he tries to keep up with you. After the 90 minutes the only thing your opponent will remember is the number on your back and the colour of your heels.
So next time you’re bent over gasping for air, push yourself even harder and enjoy the pain. This same pain will become your ally and will never let you down.
So before you run out for your next match, look to the sun and smile back as you welcome the visitors to a baptism of fire.
“May the winds of destiny blow you to the stars”.