I recently read a great book co-wrote by Lance Armstrong titled, "It's Not About the Bike" in which Lance writes about his battle with cancer, the physical and emotional recovery afterwards, and his preparation to compete for the Tour De France. In his writings, he talked extensively about the rigorous of the competitive cycling world and how he felt his entire athletic career prepared him for one of his greatest and most demanding competition ever - his competition for his own life.
With the title of the book being "It's Not About the Bike", it made me think about the weight room and all of the strengthening and conditioning that we're doing. It's easy to be consumed by the numbers, the strength gains, the mobility gains. It's often we look at athletes and see increases in sprint speeds, increased throwing velocities and a whole gamut of other quantitative measurements to back our hard work. However, some times I walk away and think, "It's Not About the Weight Room". Maybe we're doing more than preparing athletes but rather preparing individuals for the hardships of life. I structure my sessions to be a physical battle against themselves. It's a challenge every time an athlete walks in, and they must decide whether they are going to compete on that god given day. By doing this, I feel like I'm creating an environment similar to those experienced later through life lessons. Will there be struggle later in life for these athletes? Certainly. Will there be demanding times with people demanding the impossible? Absolutely.
I think what we're doing from a strength and conditioning perspective far exceeds just the strength gains and 'numbers' that coaches often want to hear about. It's must deeper than that. "It's Not About the Bike" nor the "Weight Room". It's about the struggle outside of both. It's about strengthening the body and the mind to deal with the hardships; be it job loss, a lost loved one, or a battle with cancer. Don't ever forget that strength coaches strengthen more than simply the body - rather it's our responsibility to strengthen the mind and the spirit as well.