The sun was sweltering hot. I could feel a sunburn coming on despite applying sunscreen hours earlier.
As I breathed in and out, my feet, hands and elbows dug deeper into the sand, spreading, moving, and making me feel I was falling out of line.
It’s just a plank, Trish. You can hold it longer.
The woman next to me mumbled “Fuck it,” and dropped. All around me more and more people fell.
“One minute and thirty seconds!” someone yelled.
Oh my god, that’s it!?
The sand kept shifting. My body started shaking at minute two.
I thought I was strong, I said to myself. Why is this so hard?
Near minute 3, I fell too.
Disappointed, I looked around and starting cheering on the others that were left, shaking in the sand trying to hold a plank on Coronado Beach with Ashley Horner counting minutes on the clock.
The last one standing held on for 7 to 8 minutes.
Fuck. I have so much work to do, I thought.
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The Grind is a Skill.
Embracing the grind, the difficulty, and oftentimes, the pain associated with it is a skill just like anything else. Push-ups, pull-ups, deadlifts, or running without losing your breath are all skills, cultivated with practice and time.
Not everyone is cut out for the grind and very few people will push through it because it sucks. It hurts. We humans cherish our comfort. The comfort of having air conditioning in the gym or the comfort of having everything we want right at our finger tips (Amazon, Netflix, Dating Apps, instant coffee, etc.). But we admire those that can put it all out and preserve.
Comfortable is nice. We deserve it we tell ourselves.
But the downside of being comfortable for so long and across all spectrums of our life – work, business, home, relationship – is that we lose our ability to grind past our limitations. We quit because it’s too hot, too hard, too sweaty, we don’t like how it makes our hands callous, waking up early, or problem solving.
We lose the skill of grinding and persevering because we’re afraid of how it feels. That’s how you weaken; that’s how you lose.
Strength Training Is Not Comfort Training
Most people begin strength training for the results. They want the body, the strength or the accolades.
This is a great reason to start, but to stick with it after years and years requires acceptance that none of it is easy or comfortable. There is a series of grind, sweat, missed lifts, injury, frustration, and trying to balance those workouts with the demands of our lives that make it uncomfortable.
What I learned in those few minutes of the plank challenge at Camp Valor with Ashley was that I had allowed comfort to weaken me. I quit because I was uncomfortable not because I wasn’t strong enough. My mind had lost its edge.
I stopped grinding and pushing myself to uncomfortable limits. I got used to air conditioned gym sessions, doing reps that feel strong but aren’t too difficult, and worse yet, returning to the comfort of my luxury downtown apartment with the sinking feeling that I didn’t give it my all…and accepted it.
I recognize that not everyone wants to grind their way through life, and it’s true you shouldn’t have to.
Not everything needs to be dark and heavy. But if we’re not achieving the results we want, is it possible that we’re a wee bit too comfortable?
Use your training session to get to a level of discomfort. Instead of cheating that last rep, give it your all. Rather than skip the workout because it’s been a long day and all you want is a nice quiet evening on your couch, lace up and put it out on the gym floor.
See how much you can give and then give a little more.