The other day, I read a few folks on a forum I visit discussing my training/training log. Specifically, they were discussing the amount of effort and intensity I bring into my training, and how it was a level they never felt they could personally obtain, whether through volition or otherwise. I’ve been called “beast”, “crazy”, “a machine”, etc etc, and in all of these instances I am always a little puzzled. I don’t feel like I’m doing anything that anyone else isn’t doing; I’m just training hard and doing what it takes to succeed. However, the further I analyze my own past and the success of others, the more I come to terms with the fact that my sense of normalcy is fundamentally warped, and that this stems from a consistent practice of abnormality. Essentially, I’ve made a habit of being crazy.
I mean...not THIS crazy
Norms are traditionally a product of culture, society and upbrining. In general, what we consider normal tends to be a product of what we are exposed to on a consistent basis, and those that dwell in a consistent location tend to develop somewhat homogenous norms. Everyone has, more or less, the same concept of what is normal. This bodes well when it comes to fitting in with society, not being an outcast, and receiving many of the perks of the social contract, but it unfortunately doesn’t serve one well who DOES wish to exceed beyond the levels of average. Average is average; it’s how we define mediocrity. Greatness exceeds average, which means it is, by definition, weird, and outside the realm of normalcy.
What does this mean for a trainee who wishes to move beyond normalcy? They need to engage in a consistent habit of abnormalcy in order to set that as one’s new personal norm. We must create our own norms outside of the currently accepted ones, and we must be our own source of exposure to serve as self-reinforcement. The more we engage in those abnormal activities, the more they seem normal to us, until our sense of what is normal is so fundamentally off base with society that we lose the ability to even understand that it IS abnormal.
Make no mistake; this guy KNOWS he looks like a douchebag
Like building up a tolerance to poisons, one must start with small dosages that gradually increase as tolerance builds. Probably one of the simplest and most well structured ventures into new norms would be the time tested Super Squats program. It pushes you past your comfort zone, but guides you by the hand the entire way. Once you come out the other side of those 6 weeks of Hell, you’ll be a new person, and well on your way towards setting some new norms. From there, you simply keep the momentum going. Training through sickness and injury, training in extreme heat and cold, 2 a days, 3 a days, conditioning sessions that make you vomit, blowing out blood vessels and capillaries, etc etc. It’s an arms race of insanity, and the only solution is escalation.
The question that always arises in these situations is how to start, and the answer is another time tested secret to success; fake it until you make it. Contrary to what the internet would have you believe, bravado isn’t inherently a negative thing. Certainly it is annoying, but for a trainee seeking to establish some new norms, it can be just the thing necessary to make that first step. You don’t have to be born crazy; you can just pretend until it starts to stick. Buy your own hype and believe you really are unstoppable, convince yourself that you have what it takes to be just like those you idolize. First you have heroes, then you BECOME the hero, but there is no shame in engaging in a little imitation along the way.
But at least put in SOME effort
The more we practice being crazy, the more it becomes habit, and in turn the more it becomes our first instinct. It’s self-perpetuating; we practice being crazy so often that, when the time comes to decide, crazy becomes the natural instinct, which reinforces being crazy even further. Eventually, one need not fake it, because one has had such consistent practice that it IS “normal”. Now, this is a bit of a razor’s edge, because eventually the decision point will come where you really SHOULD back down and act “normal”, but your instincts will guide you closer to the fire than you should go. Self-awareness goes a long way but honestly…you’ll get much further always betting on crazy than you will always hedging your bets. Even one blown out ACL later, if I had to do it all over again, I’d have rather stuck with being crazy than back down and be normal.
…and that is probably just a sign of how far gone I am.