by Caitlyn Fenn
Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror during a workout and seen the image of yourself at your breaking point? Maybe you don’t workout with a mirror, but you still know that moment. You know that feeling. The point where the work gets so hard that you doubt if you can finish, you question why you even started. That moment, at your lowest low, you remember why you came here, why you train. You look back at that reflection, stare into your own eyes and say to yourself, ‘don’t give up – you can do this’. These moments, when I’m in the most pain, are the reason I train every day – they are my definition of training.
Why I train: To overcome challenges
As painful as those moments can be, I almost look forward to them as I roll out of bed appallingly early. Training is my daily reminder that if I give my all, I can accomplish my goals. Pushing myself is a healthy reminder every now and then that reaching my goals requires patience, hard work, perseverance and focus. If I’m honest though, it’s generally the other challenges in my life that get me through a tough workout. When I remind myself how much harder other challenges in my life can be, I tell myself, ‘The least you can do is push through the pain at the bottom of this squat.’ In turn, when I’m done, I’ve impressed myself by getting through it. That confidence is something real and it’s powerful. It’s something I can take with me and apply to other challenges in my life outside of the gym.
Why I train: MY time
The pain of training isn’t necessarily always physical pain. Sometimes it’s the agony of, ‘I don’t feel like doing this today,’ or ‘I was up late last night’, ‘I’m tired’ and even ‘It’s Friday.’ There are plenty of excuses not to train. Then I make that scrunched-up face and talk myself through it. And that’s the point. It’s me, just talking to myself. It’s my escape from the hectic, mundane routine; where the focus is shifted from phone calls and email to being solely about me. A coach may be there screaming at me. I may see someone else working just as hard next to me and that might inspire me to dig deeper but ultimately it’s just me vs. myself. That time spent pitting myself against the best version of me is when I get better. This time training is MY time.
Why I train: Control
In daily life many of the results I’m given back have fingerprints of others on them. Unfortunately, hard work doesn’t always translate directly to the results I want to see, whether it’s in my personal or professional life. I crave that feeling of control, and in our chaotic lives training is the hour or two where I dictate the results. How hard I work, directly correlates to the outcome; no one else has a say. When the day starts spinning out of control with work emergencies, family drama and disturbing headlines in the news; training provides the control to turn it off for a little bit and the power to accomplish something. It gives me the power to make myself better.
Why I train: Pride
I feel accomplished. I’ve managed to impress myself by fighting to get through the workout – and in the process I gave it everything I had. Tomorrow I’ll do it all over again. I look forward to that pain and the challenge it brings. Have you ever been up so early you’re the only one out? Being one of the only people awake, travelling down the empty streets, knowing you’re on your way to accomplish your goals while others haven’t even woken up yet? I know I’m going to need to, as the Army says, ‘Be all that you can be,’ and keep in mind what Steve Prefontaine said, ‘To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.’
I know the feeling of what it’s like to not give my all; that feeling of regret when I don’t train as hard as I could have. It’s something I don’t ever want to feel again because I know I can’t get time back. Working out as hard as I can in that hour or two I set aside reminds me I need to make the most of my time in anything I do. Working as hard as I can allows me to walk away proud, knowing I gave it my all. I’m searching for the best possible versions of myself. That’s why I train.