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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Magic 200 Challenge

I wanted to quit after the first round.

My lungs were burning. My arms, chest, legs, hell, even my hips hurt. "This is crazy," proclaimed the bad part of my brain. "Why are you doing this? What are you trying to prove?"

"That I can do it," the good part of my brain answered.

Two weeks earlier, I stumbled across this thread on Ross Enamait's website, and the moment I did, the idea was firmly entrenched in my brain. Ross's Magic 50 is a pretty regular part of my routine, and I even challenged myself with a Magic 100 once. So while Christmas day doesn't necessarily mean overeating, it usually does mean Chinese food, and I figured, what the hell, I'll give this a shot.
As it turns out, I misremembered the workout, so I actually did something more like a Magic 150. Which was pretty bad, though, of course, not quite as bad as it was supposed to be.

The workout I actually did was this:
- DB snatch x 10 per arm
- DB swings x 10 per arm
- burpees x 10
- rest 60 sec
- repeat x 10 rounds

As I said, not as bad as the write up, but pretty bad nontheless. If you don't believe me, go try it.

So back to the question of "why?" Why did I decide, on a cold Friday morning, when my family was upstairs making breakfast and chatting, did I wander into my parents basement, grab a 35lb powerblock, and start swinging?

Because I wanted to challenge myself.

Because I wanted to reach that point where my brain started saying "dude, back off. You don't need to do this. You can quit. You've worked hard enough." I wanted to reach that point, and force myself to shut that voice up and keep moving.

I can give you ratinoal reasons for that desire. The "just quit" mentality is one that drags itself a lot during a fight. I'd like to do some competiting in the coming year, and I know how important forcing yourself to push on is to competitve success. I can tell you that, physically, it was a good test of where I am, and where I could be (there were people hitting sub 20 minute times on this workout!). I could give you a lot of rationalizations for this one.

But the truth is, I didn't take up this challenge because it was rational. Truthfully, I don't entirley know why I did it. The month of November was a terrible month for me psychologically, and I think this was part of the process of pulling myself out of that (I may or may not write more about that later). Part of it was, frankly, was ego. I get to say I did this workout, and you didn't. I get some sort of cred. I confess, that cred is largely useless, but my ego likes it.

But this workout also batters down your ego. Man, does it batter you. As I said, I wanted to quit one round in. Three rounds in, just doing five sounded like enough. Five rounds in, and just making it through one more rep was enough.

Finally, forty minutes and sixteen seconds later, I was honestly, legitimately done.

And that, that felt awesome. Oh, not physically. Physically I felt like I had been worked over by an eight hundred pound gorilla. But mentally? Man, I felt fantastic! I made it. I beat the workout. I beat that stupid, nagging voice in the back of my head. I won, not the workout.

And that feeling is really cool.

As the New Year approaches, let me say this: if you have never challenged yourself like this, do it once this year. It doesn't have to be this workout. Hell, it doesn't have to be a workout at all. But set a challenge for yourself, and make it happen, no matter how grueling it is. You'll be glad that you did.

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