I was thinking about how I trained all through high school and college for football. I'm getting nostalgia chills as I write all this down. Especially about the running workouts.
Wake up. Have coffee. Walk outside. It's six am. It is July and it is already hot, Maryland Summer hot. If you are not familiar with summer’s in Maryland, no, it aint Alabama, but the sun beats down hard and the humidity will mess you up if you are foolish enough to challenge it when it gets high and you are not acclaimed to that type of heat. I loved it. Summer was the time when I was in high school and college that I enjoyed training for football the most. Weights came first, a morning workout. Squat till my legs quivered, man the hell up and do seated behind the neck press until my arms quivered.
Then, venture into the dirt bike trails by my house in the hottest part of the day. Didn't have a water bottle, or five of them strapped on a belt around my waist, or a watch that tells me every damn thing about myself, or a shirt that wicked away the moisture. Maybe I had a white undershirt on, maybe no shirt, didn't matter. Definitely not tights on my legs, give me strength. Just. Take off. Running. Through the woods, through the small creek. Up the hills that dotted the course.
Nothing fancy, ever. I never used parachutes, stood on a damn bosu ball or hired a performance place to train me. I never even thought of stuff like that, that weak ass stuff. I don't even remember if any of that stuff was even around. I lifted weights as heavy and as hard as I could and ran through the woods, everyday.
Never a 40 yard dash in a straight line, never. I never did that on the field, I always had something or someone in my face. To me, running up hills, dealing with the elements was what made me tougher physically and mentally and prepared me for the season. I reckon that It was cross country running but turbo charged cross country running.
I guess that I was also just getting prepared for life, testing what I had deep down inside of me when nobody else was watching. That's the true test, right? Doing it alone, Nobody talking to you, bothering you, blowing a damn whistle, talking about your breathing or your positive mental outlook. Hell, I wasn't positive at all. I used the most negative talk that I could think of while I was approaching that hill. You are soft, you aren't worth a damn, everybody works harder than you. That is as fast as you can run?
If a 45 minute run through the woods was tough and pushed me to the limit, then the rest of the day was going to be easy. Many times I staggered home, legs barely moving, pumped with blood, so pumped that my knees didn’t want to bend. Legs burning from that last, final hill at the end of the course. Back to the house,breathing like a locomotive, covering my body with water from the outside hose and drinking huge gulps of the water from it.
I worked a summer job that still allowed me to train, and I looked forward to every single run in the woods, that challenge, man, of how hard I could push myself and not thinking of anything else. I couldn't think of anything else, or I would falter.
And I am not saying that I was anything special at all, what I am saying is that those workouts were what I needed, and what I felt that I needed the most to get ready for football. Oh, I miss those days! Ever day a challenge! So young and full of idealistic thoughts, when all was black and white, and cut and dried, and hard work is all that mattered.
I will miss the consistency and the innocence of those days and workouts for a long time.