Inspired by the same friend who appeared in the post ‘A Moment of Beauty’ and prompted by the recent journal entry from 11 years ago, ‘Push Through the Barriers’, this post is about making the most of the hard work already done in order to get the best possible return. It’s about carrying on when you feel like giving up, because it’s the extra effort you put in which brings the main benefit and makes everything else worthwhile.
My friend was a very good middle distance runner. He trained hard and he trained with some very talented athletes. Anyone who took even a passing interest in the recent Olympics knows that, to be the best, you have to push yourself beyond where you think your limits are. (Our limits are never where we think they are.) Whatever the discipline – sport, work, life – there are times when we think and feel that enough is enough, we can’t do anymore, everything hurts. But that’s the time to carry on. That’s the meat and potatoes.
That’s how he referred to it in his training group, and that was the call which could be heard towards the end of their most gruelling sessions. As they ran laps of the track, watched by the pole vaulters whose lives seemed comparatively simple with their short run-ups, the middle distance runners, worn out, grimacing and on the verge of collapse, knew it was coming. And sure enough, when they welcomed it least but needed it most, his voice would reach out across the athletics track, ‘This is it guys. This is the meat and potatoes!’
What he meant was that everything which had led up to that point – all the circuit training, sprint work and laps of the track – would be a waste of time if they didn’t keep going to the finish, pushing themselves further than their minds were telling them their bodies could go. The sole purpose of everything up until that point had been to serve what was about to happen. Push yourself that extra distance and you will see how good you are. You will break through another perceived barrier. You will be a better athlete.
When I do my morning exercises, it is his voice I hear when I want to give up. Whether it’s in the middle of the session, at the end, or even before I start because my body already aches, I tell myself, ‘This is it. This is the meat and potatoes.’ It’s applicable in all areas of our lives. Whatever you have done up to now has merely been the preparation for what is about to happen. So lift your knees, pump your arms and push on.