This is part 1 of a 2 part article. Nothing written here is purposely written to be offensive, though some may take offense to it. Caveat, I am an extremely competitive weightlifting coach. I love to win, and absolutely hate to lose, probably even more than I love to win. All-time favorite quote? From Remember the Titans, “I’m a winner. I’m going to win.” I don’t mean to be offensive in any way, but speaking as a former competitive athlete, who deals with many competitive athletes on a daily basis, I have some things to say. If you find part 1 offensive, DO NOT READ part 2.
Within each of us there lives an athlete. What type of athlete you are, or will be, is completely up to you. It isn’t something your coach can control. You decide if you are a casual athlete, a casual competitor, a competitor, or a champion.
Most people fall into the casual athlete. They are focused on basic fitness and improvement of themselves. They are less concerned with winning as they are with having done their best. If a PR was set in the process then that is the icing on the cake. It isn’t to say they can’t be competitive but it may not mean as much to them. I have great admiration for this group because basic fitness and disciplined nutrition takes a lot of work. You should be applauded for getting of the couch, and trying to better yourself.
Then there is the casual competitor. They compete with a goal in mind. They like the competition but are still focused on their own performance and PR’s. They will train hard but, may not have the single minded focus of the competitor or champion. Usually people will be in it for the fun but not take the competition aspect so serious. They compete with the goal of doing better than the last time.
Then there is the competitor. They are in competition with not only themselves but others around them. They will push themselves harder than the casual competitor in an effort to get the prize. They will celebrate any victory or PR then set their sights on the next goal. They know what they want. They will put in the blood, sweat and tears. They compete with the goal of winning their weight class or session.
The champion. The person who gives it everything. They don’t make excuses. They are doing whatever it takes to get the W. They push through the pain. They never quit. They fight through every training session. They don’t have to be motivated to train. They know what their numbers are and the numbers of the competition. They aren’t satisfied beating just themselves. Personal records mean nothing to them, because they have world records on their mind.
But let me share a secret with you. Almost anyone can be a champion, if you want it bad enough. But to do that you must fight. You must persevere. Every time you step in the gym and put your hands on the bar, you fight. Champions aren’t born and potential will only carry you so far. A champion is not made on game day. A champion is made the hours, days, weeks and months leading up to game day. It is about who put the work in. Who got their mind right and did the work? Who gave every training session everything they had? Champions are made fighting out of the hole after a heavy clean. Champions are made fighting to hold a snatch overhead and just sitting at the bottom. A champion looks at their strengths as well as their weaknesses. They aren’t ever happy being a big fish in a small pond. They know there is always someone out there working just as hard if not harder. The champion doesn’t ever say they will never be able to do something or beat someone. They tell themselves it is only a matter of time. The champion is never intimidated by the competition and their records. Records are made to be broken. They look at the competition and their numbers and say “Challenge accepted.”
I deal with every level of athlete at my gym every day. I don’t have a favorite type. Regardless of where each person is personally, everyone here wants to be better. Whether being better simply means getting off the couch and taking the first step of coming to the gym, or whether being better means better than everyone else in the world. If you want to be better, then I want to help you achieve that.
Not everyone can just be a casual athlete, and not everyone can be a champion. There is nothing wrong with either end of this spectrum. Some casual athletes may look at champions as being overly obsessed, and some champions may look at casual athletes as having no drive. Everyone is at their own personal level, so there is no right or wrong. Whatever level you are, just be all that you can and stay true to yourself. When you walk in the gym, know who you are, and train accordingly.
If you are a casual athlete, be smart. Be safe. Don’t overdo it. Give 100%, but don’t risk injury. You ultimately have your best health and well-being in mind. Have fun, and enjoy training and being around like minded fitness enthusiasts.
If you want to be a champion, you better be willing to risk it all. You’re going to have to push your body past limits you never though you could. You will have to deal with extreme amounts of pain. There will be an extreme, inherent risk of injury, because all that is on your mind is winning, and you will do whatever it takes. Be smart outside the gym. Don’t do other things that carry a risk of injury. You should be of a single focus. If it’s not going to give you a better chance at winning, you shouldn’t be doing it.
Part 2 will follow shortly, and will only be directed at true competitive athletes, and will be very offensive to those who are not. You’ve been warned.