Use The Ladder

“If I can’t _______ then it’s not worth it.” Is one of the biggest pitfalls in sustaining a long athletic life.

It could be a certain pace, distance, weight, or time. But the thought is that if it’s not a certain something it doesn’t count or won’t be fun; so therefore it won’t be done.

But of course if it gets skipped because it’s not that certain thing, it certainly won’t get better.

I see this in adults all the time. And often they act as if there is no way out. It’s like I see them shrug and stare at this apparent wall. Or run into the wall over and over again.

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Often that’s what a coach or trainer is for. There’s a ladder right there against the wall but because they can’t vault over it like they used to they refuse to see or use the ladder unless the coach insists on it. As if using the ladder is shameful and the only way they’ll be caught on it is if it’s clear they are being made to do it.

So they grudgingly use the ladder, and eventually they don’t need it and they are vaulting over the wall again. For a time things go so well they forget the wall is even there. Until something trips them up and suddenly the wall looms large and they start all over again. First just staring at the wall, refusing to even see the ladder as a way forward, then dismissing the ladder as undignified, before finally taking the first step.

Even elite athletes get knocked down and have to seemingly start all over again. The difference is that they don’t waste time resisting and resenting the ladder. They are actually pros at using whatever tools, whatever half-steps, will help them get back where they want to be.

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My goal as a coach is not to make elite athletes but to help everyday athletes sustain a long healthy happy active life. I don’t want to just keep forcing people to use the ladder. I want to help people find and use ladders on their own.

As recreational athletes, it’s best if your love for your favorite activity isn’t so conditional. Find ways for it to be fun and “count” at any pace, distance, weight, or time. If there is a wider range of appreciation there is more likely to be the consistency that is required for improvement which will lend itself to more things to appreciate.

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