The Dark Place

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 8.12.20 PMYoung Simba: But what about the shadowy place?
Mufasa: That’s beyond our borders. You must never go there, Simba.

This post has nothing to do with The Lion King, but now that I have your attention, let’s talk about dark places. Y’all know how I feel about my coach—freaking love that guy—and I continue to learn from him on a daily basis. When I started with him back in July (Danny, we’ve been together almost a year and you haven’t kicked me off a spreadsheet yet!), Day 4 of our week’s workout had a line at the end: find the dark place and finish it. As someone who was wholly unprepared for @skrongman’s programming, I thought the dark place meant, “Cry in between sets and wonder why you’re here.” It was not until today, March 19, 2018, that I truly found my dark place.

Some people perpetually live in the dark place; we all know those people. They’re grumpy, irritable, not fun to be around, and you can tell that they’re probably going through some shit. Some people are really good at going in and out of the dark place.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 8.46.59 PM.png
Default: Aggressive

Prime example: my teammate Stace. Before I ever competed with Stace in November 2016, I thought she was terrifying. Even when we first became teammates, her intensity was something that blew my mind. Stace is remarkable. She can go from the above look to grinning like a fool the minute her workout is over. Then there are those people who never find the dark place. They’re happy-go-lucky, WOO THE GYM IS GREAT kind of people who, while sometimes I’m envious of them, also make me wanna kick puppies every now and then.

Anyway, I haven’t thought much about the dark place in my current training cycle. There are a few of us who prepped for Nats under Danny in this cycle, and you can trust and believe that we’ve bitched to one another here and there, but this cycle has been mostly about getting stronger and helping new people find their groove. Today, 19 days out from my next competition, my working weight for log press—which is quickly becoming one of my better events—was 10 pounds under my 1 rep max. I was supposed to do it for 4 sets, 2 reps each. After failing the first set, eating a snack (dummy didn’t eat enough today), missing a rep during the second set and having a full blown tantrum, I found the darkness.

It wasn’t the thought of work.
I love my office and my coworkers and the majority of my students. They make me wanna bang my face off my desk some days, but it’s all love the rest of the time.

It wasn’t the thought of my family.
Y’all know they’re my favorite people on the planet. Thinking of them makes me happier than anything in the world.

It wasn’t the thought of my ex.
I haven’t been exclusively in a relationship in forever, and there ain’t a Tinder/Bumble fuckboy in the world that could make me mad enough for this workout.

Nope. It was a simple four words that changed my whole mental state in a split second.

You’re better than this.

It was that simple. You are better than this. You’re better than the doubters who think you’re crazy when you tell them you do this sport. You’re better then the side-eyes and less-than-subtle stares when you take your-non-fit-girl-looking-self into a commercial gym. You’re better than the athlete you were yesterday, and you’re sure as hell better than this inanimate piece of steel that is trying to make you its bitch. Move the weight and be better than this.

End of story, y’all. The workout happened, I didn’t die, and I learned that I do, in fact, have a dark place. I will never stay there long, and I don’t want to have to go there often, but there’s something really powerful about learning you can go there. I’m not saying you need to sit on your couch in this moment and find it–that’d be unfortunate–but the next time you’re struggling in the gym, do what you can to find that place. I promise, it’s worth it.

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