While looking around on my favorites list on my Internet Explorer, I realized that I haven't checked out Gubernatrix's blog in, as far as I'm concerned, way too long. She writes a good blog and if you haven't visited her site, then you're only hurting yourself for not doing so. Her last post asked a basic question: How competitive are you in your training?
Not too long ago, I came down a little critical on competitive lifting sports because of the intense drive that forces people to train their bodies into the ground. I recall reading about one guy on another web site and he had this to say:
"I am now an Olympic lifting coach who can't lift at all. My joints are so busted up I have to demo lifts with an empty bar and can only swim for fitness. Would I go back and change a thing? Not just no, but HELL NO! I knew the price when I started as an athlete and paid it. I make sure my serious lifters know there is a price to pay down the road. It's not like they can't see it in all the coaches at Nationals, anyway. I have never had an athlete quit because they were afraid of the long term price in pain and disability. If they do, they aren't serious enough for me to waste my time coaching them."
Is that the way to train? As far as I'm concerned, not just no, but HELL NO! I've got a lot more life to live than just past my physical peak. I'd like to live it in a manner that I can compress the physical decline that I know that I'll experience into as little time as possible before I go down for the dirt nap. To me, that's a huge consideration in my training. Forcing myself to compete to that point of breakdown is just ridiculous.
Besides, it flies in the face of my lifelong goal when it comes to my training: I want to defy everyone who tells me that I can't do this for as long as I live. I don't accept that the physical decline that they experience is my unavoidable fate. Frankly, I'm determined to be the Jack Lalanne of BW strength training!
On the other hand, training without ANY competition at all is just as counter-productive. You can't erase competition from life, no matter how hard you try. Someone is always going to try to get one up on you. This is where competition can help you train on a higher level. I see strength training as a way to accept the fact that life is, at times, hard and painful. It's unavoidable in strength training: if you want to get powerful and stay healthy, you have accept the difficulty, pain, and suffering (to a limited and controlled degree, of course). Competition serves as an excellent tool to force you to do difficult things. You don't even need to compete with someone else. I compete with my past self, trying to break personal records all of the time.
I believe that life is only going to be so easy. Trying to make it easier only results in making it more difficult. People who shun training because it's hard only become out of shape, mentally weak, and (frankly) a bunch of PUSSIES! I see it all the time, and it disgusts me. Shunning competition only exacerbates this.
What it ultimately boils down to is what I've said so many times: training is about balance. I said it in a comment on Gubernatrix's blog: One of the keys to training is balance… and there are way too many people that lost that set of keys. Don't make the same mistake. Use competition to push yourself to a higher level but don't let it rule your training and crush your body under its demands.
Off the topic, I'd like to take the time to wish one of my friends and muse to the Bodyweight Files, Pierini, a bit, GET WELL SOON! He got slammed with what sounds like a bad case of the flu. Send some prayers and well-wishes his way when you get a chance... Pierini Fitness