With training, it’s not all about what you do

Ultimately, it’s not all about what you do – it’s about who you become while doing it.

In the past few months, I have had the privilege of training people for many different events: 10k, half marathon, full marathon, Spartan obstacle course race, sprint triathlon, Olympic distance triathlon, half iron triathlon, and today I am waiting atop a mountain, for my last athlete to arrive in the midst of Ironman Canada.

As I enjoy watching these amazing people do amazing things, what strikes me most is who they become during the process.

On Aug. 18th, I watched normal people, just like you, compete in the Spartan Race: a grueling 5km run, filled with over 15 obstacles that you don’t find out about until race day.

Things such as crawling over fences and tractor tires, hauling bricks, slogging through mud, crawling under barbwire (in mud), leaping fences etc. I watched people who had never in their life crossed a finish line, or who had never once received a medal. I saw the look in their eyes at the start line, scared out of their mind about what was about to come, and then I saw the powerful ‘face consuming’ smiles at the finish line.

It was truly awesome! After the race, and in fact, during the training, it was amazing to watch people grow and improve, both mentally and physically.

Before the race, there were a lot of questions: ‘Do you think I can even do this?’ ‘What if I don’t finish?’

By simply having the courage to start, to train and to sign up, people become more than they were before. They became more confident, more powerful, more engaged in life, more active, more fit, and definitely happier with themselves!

I think that is what draws people to sports — even people who have previously never been involved in sports. It’s about the person you become through training and challenging yourself. 

As I watch the colossal effort required for people to complete and Ironman, I am again inspired by the courage, the depth of humanity and the power that this event has to change people. It can also be heart wrenching: like watching the man this morning who trained for 10 months to swim, bike and run incredible distances, but did not meet the swim cutoff, and his race ended after two hours and 22 minutes.

His wife was there, and the volunteers and other people worked to console him. There he was, learning about himself in the most powerful way. What was he thinking? Who was he becoming? Was he becoming more determined than ever? Or was be becoming defeated and demoralized? I would understand either outcome.

As I wait anxiously to see if one of my athletes can make the bike cutoff, I wonder how she will handle it if she doesn’t. I hope beyond hope that she will make it and get to finish, because I have seen the power of the finish line and I want her to taste that sweet victory. 

Either way, she will never be the same again, for the better.

I have watched her, and others grow so much during the year, and it is something I wish for everyone: to really see how absolutely amazing you are, how incredible your body is, and what you can do if you set your mind to it.

So it is with hope that I extend to you a challenge: try something big, something you never thought you could do and then enjoy who you become in the process, whether you finish or not – I applaud you for having the guts to try!

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake. He can be reached at 403-887-7667 or check out www.personaltrainersylvanlake.com for more information.