It's not meant to be easy

Ice down

There’s a collection of things Ben reminds me of regularly. One of the ideas he tries hardest to drill into my head is that it’s not supposed to be easy. It’s never going to get easier. And yeah, it will hurt.

I would think that’s not something I need to be reminded of. But when I struggle through a second rep on a 90-lb bench, the bar rising so slowly as to almost be forcing it through quicksand, my heels dug in, a primal grunt I can’t even control coming from my throat as my quivering arms finally lock, the bar suspended at last above me,  I look at him with an expression of surprise. “That was really hard!” I’ll exclaim.  He could say ‘duh,’ but instead goes with “it’s not supposed to be easy. You have to work for this. You have to earn every rep.”

162lb squat

And of course it’s not easy. What would be the point if it were? But just like I’m always surprised when I see my lottery ticket isn’t the winning number, I’m surprised at how brutally hard lifting heavy weights is.

Squatting 65 pounds wasn’t easy the first time I tried doing more than the bar, squatting my body weight for the first time was the physically hardest thing I’d ever done, and just this week squatting 162 pounds — to depth — twice for two sets was the hardest thing I’ve done. Which is exactly why it feels so amazing to have done it. I want it to be hard, I’m restless when I’m not giving it everything I’ve got. Balancing that tightrope between fear and exhilaration is part of the addiction.

The part I don’t love is the pain  — I need regular ice on my knee and hip flexor, I’m sporting pink kinesiotape and I endure tortuous sessions with a rolling stick on my IT band and with a Graston tool on my inflamed knee. I can’t remember the last time something didn’t hurt. But the worst part is not the pain. It’s that I fear it will affect my work. When I woke up with a pain in my shoulder this morning I immediately worried my next bench would be affected. So I self-treated with a lacrosse ball and iced it, and hope it’ll be cleared up before my workout tomorrow. Because I want to crush a workout that leaves no room for any thoughts of easy.

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