Somewhere in between the reps and sets your workout was trying to tell you something. Even when you put metabolic conditioning and strength training aside, your workout is trying to teach you something…if you listen. What that voice is saying, when you choose to hear it, is that you don’t know your limits yet, even if you think you do.

I’m not a fitness professional, don’t have any certifications, and I don’t run a gym. Any CrossFit Level 1 graduate will run rings around me in teaching you the fundamentals of a movement or how to program a workout. I’m just a grunt with a couple of tours overseas under his belt. And while I’m not the guy you should be listening to about proper hip drive in the squat, I do know a thing or two about fitness in the real world and what it’s really all about.

You might think fitness is all about your VO2 max or having a monster CrossFit Total. It’s true, tracking your numbers can be a great tool for monitoring your improvement. But numbers don’t tell the whole story, or even the most important part. At the core of the enigmatic concepts we all call “fitness” lies a simple question. “Can you get it done?” How fit you are is ultimately a measure of what you can accomplish, be it negotiating the mountains of Afghanistan, moving a couch, or chasing your kids through a marathon playground session. We train so we can DO. And since we never know what we’re going to have to do, we must do more than just simply train our muscles.

I’ve often told people that military training is simply a series of experiences that suck more than the last one. Each training evolution or field problem is a progression of ever more challenging and difficult situations. The idea behind this is simple. Someday, when you find yourself suddenly thrust into an arduous position, you can think back on a time that sucked even more. And, knowing that you’ve handled worse, you can face your current problem with a courage born of well earned confidence.

When we work the power clean or gut through one more round of ‘Cindy’ we’re doing more than stimulating a response from our bodies. We are preparing our minds and hearts for the unknown. And this preparation isn’t born from simply knowing how much we can lift or how fast we can go. With every PR we set, every WOD we fight through we take one more step towards understanding that our limits are like our futures, unknown and unknowable. Ultimately, it matters very little what our PRs are or where your score sits on the whiteboard in your box.

What matters is that we have faced our fears, our self imposed limits and pushed our way past them. We’ve felt the burning in our lungs and quivering in our legs, our hearts begging for a chance to rest. But we’ve also felt ourselves push past the pain and try for ‘just one more’. And when we do that, when our sheer will triumphs over our hesitating bodies, we do something extraordinary. We expand our notion of what is possible. So, when you hit the gym today, take a second to listen to what those bumper plates are trying to tell you. Have the courage to push yourself past where you think your limits are. We can’t know when life’s next challenge will present itself. But we can choose to be ready.

Now, 3, 2, 1…..GO!

By Larry Doane

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