T Nation

Jim, Question about Your Athletic Years


#1

Jim,

With all the conditioning you did when you were playing football/throwing discus, how did you manage to increase your strength level as well? What was the key thing you've learnt with regards to trying to obtain both a high level of conditioning as well as strong?

I read you've said you weren't the "most talented" athlete, well, neither am I (and probably a lot of us), so it would be great if you could share more of your thoughts (although I know you have written a lot in the past).

Thanks a lot


#2

"With all the conditioning you did when you were playing football/throwing discus, how did you manage to increase your strength level as well? What was the key thing you’ve learnt with regards to trying to obtain both a high level of conditioning as well as strong? "

Ok so here goes,in no particular order:

  1. By far the most important thing is to understand that you are training for a bigger purpose than to just “train” or “get strong” or whatever. You are training for something you would die for, something you would do anything for. So once you do this, the only thing that matters is being better at your sport. So bumps in the road, for your bench press, don’t really matter. Because you are training for something but bigger than a stupid number.

  2. Training isn’t just for your benefit, but for your teammates.

  3. Be patient - I learned this during my sophomore year. I couldnt get over a hump with my clean. And I kept at it. And at it. And nothing. And I was getting so frustrated. Finally, one day, I set a huge PR and realized it was the constant work, the non-glorious work, that led to this. So I never got upset again about plateaus as they were just setting me up to a big PR. Just have to keep working.

  4. There are a lot of times you won’t increase anything (as I said above) - and you’ll get frustrated. Losers bitch. Winners push. I can’t emphasize this enough about how weak most people are in regards to training and pushing themselves. And I don’t mean “pushing hard for one workout” - but pushing and pushing for years and years and years: never missing workouts, going Kaizer Soze, putting one foot after another when it’s not sexy or on YouTube.

  5. You get to a certain point when you are training for a sport where the work builds up and builds up (this can take a decade or more) where running and running and lifting and running some more isn’t a huge deal. And you just kind of exist - like a weird zen state of the world. People miss this idea of the sum total of all this years of work and how important it is. And another reason why kids need to train in-season and play 3 sports.

  6. Once you get to a certain point of strength, and this is individual, you don’t need to spend too much time on getting stronger. This is not the case for everyone but it was for me. You still lift but the time it takes to increase a 600 pound squat to 700 isn’t worth your time (for example). Being strong is great but if you can’t outperform people and work forever, you are worthless. Taking time off of conditioning is a bad idea, especially if you were a runt like me. Remember, the All Americans can get away with more because they earned it by their play on the field. The Scrubs don’t get that advantage. Because that is the reality of life.

  7. Be careful who you listen to - I’ve yet to read any online “coach” who really had a grasp on training/conditioning as it is done for field athletes or at least what was done by us. There is a lot of conjecture but let me assure you that pushing the Prowler for 10 minutes is not going to cut it. It’s like Crossfit people who think they are Navy Seals or UFC fighters because they dropped some sweat. Idiots. Calling themselves “WARRIORS!” or whatever.

The most important thing to remember is that it’s not about getting strong, it’s about getting better. If you embrace this, good things happen because it no longer becomes a goal but a journey.


#3

And another reason why kids need to train in-season and play 3 sports.

BINGO.


#4

To find something I am willing to die for… damn, that is hardest out of all this.

Thank you Jim.


#5

[quote]xl507 wrote:
To find something I am willing to die for… damn, that is hardest out of all this.

Thank you Jim. [/quote]

I always thought everyone had something like that until a few years ago. I understand everyone has a role but I cannot imagine not having something you’d give blood and soul for. But then again, I have been criticized a million times for being obsessive.

As always, there is room for both. Unless you make the other person uncomfortable…