Why endurance and strength sports are better

I come from a traditional team athletics background, and I always picked up skill sports pretty quickly. I’m no Bo Jackson (you younger folks can Google him), but it usually doesn’t take me too long to become respectably proficient in my sport du jour, and I’ve had a lot of them since leaving school.


With endurance sports or strength sports, that’s just not the case.  Athletic ability helps, but there are no shortcuts to proficiency.  You’ve either put in the time training or you haven’t.  Sure some people come into these sports with higher ground floors and some people also have higher ceilings or may have faster elevators to get to those top floors (that’s my last cheesy metaphor I promise), but you still need to put in the time to be able to compete at a high level.  That’s the beauty of these things.  In endurance and strength sports, an older guy that has put in years of training will usually trounce an athletic, younger guy that may be “in great shape”, but doesn’t have the time in the trenches that the older guy has.


To paraphrase legendary track coach Arthur Lydiard, “There is no magic pill or magic workout plan. It’s all a matter of gradual conditioning.”

Personally I think that’s great. You earn every second off your race PR’s.  You earn every pound on your max lifts.  It’s one of the last great meritocracies if you ask me, and that, my friends, is a beautiful thing in a world where connections, special rules, economic station, and childhood neighborhood increasingly determine “success” and “failure”.  Next time you see somebody set a blazing pace, tip your cap to them and think about all the long hours of training, dedication, discipline, and sacrifice it took for them to get there.


Next time you see somebody hit a heavy PR or blast through a WOD, do the same thing.


Most of all, take a look in the mirror. Think about where you were a year ago, two years ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago and so on. Realize just how far you’ve come and how you’re a better person for it. Realize that those repetitive daily battles about training or skipping have strengthened your character and have spilled over to other parts of your life.


Lastly realize that you were once the rookie that is now in your way during a race, annoying you with discipline problems about committing to and sticking with a program, who is struggling to run on the side of the road, or who is wobbly under what you see as a “light weight”. Instead of mocking them, give them respect for stepping up to the plate and imagine where they could be in another year, two years, 5 years, 10 years, and so on.


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