Former Duke Basketball player, Jay Bilas, wrote in Toughness, a story about preparing to run the mile for the annual team conditioning test. Like most basketball players, he hated distance running. But, Bilas was a competitor. He trained for it by doing extra distance running around the Duke golf course.
When test time came, he ran a 5:40 mile, his best time ever. But, he was not the fastest. He was destroyed by his teammate, Mark Alarie, who ran a 5:11.
Taken back by Alarie's performance, Bilas asked how he pulled off this incredible time. Alarie said, “For me, the mile is only how much pain I can endure. ”
While Bilas trained to be more comfortable with running the mile, Alarie took the approach of going through and enduring the pain of the mile. Bilas wrote, “He trained not to run the mile more comfortably, but to be more productive. He decided he was going to be in just as much pain and discomfort, but he was doing it to get more out of if.”
This is what training is. It's about pushing past that threshold you were once before. Most people will work hard with the intention of getting the same job done with greater comfort. Instead of taking this approach, your mindset should be to approach everything you do, not with the intention of comfort, but to improve your own capacity.
Success in anything can be defined as how much, how long, and how willing you are to get there.
Alarie learned this type of perseverance by pushing his younger brother Chris (who had cerebral palsy) around in his wheel chair. He took him everywhere. He said, “There was never a time I thought I could give in, that I was too tired, or it was too hard. Chris couldn’t even get out of his chair and I wasn’t going to run down a court because it was too hard? No way!”
Like Alarie, we all have reserves that we are often unwilling to tap into. We approach our days, our jobs, our training, our practice’s with the attitude of “just get through it.” We are just satisfied with surviving another day.
Don’t think this way. Choose to endure. Choose the harder path because it’s the right path. Choose to be productive over being comfortable. Squeeze everything you can out of what you do to make yourself better.