"A civilized animal will kill us all" -Unknown (I heard it from MDLP)
A change in perspective can be hard to swallow but it can be necessary and should be welcomed. I was listening to The Battle Axe podcast Episode21 and one of my dear friends and mentors, MDLP (Michael De La Pava) and his co-host Johnny Banks, who’s also pretty cool, were talking about the importance of seeing yourself as an athlete and how that mentality changes your view on your daily activities. (A quick note about mentors: they don’t always know that they are your mentors and sometimes you don’t even have to know them in real life. That’s ok. Just keep consuming and learning from them.)
I’m paraphrasing, but here’s the gist. John mentioned that Mike said something to him that stuck and changed his perspective. “A civilized animal will kill us all”. If you know Mike, you know that deep, philosophical words and phrases like this are normal but what the heck does that mean? Like John, this struck a chord with me as well so I’ll explain.
An animal works on instinct. Its fierceness comes without having to be trained. Becoming civilized is trained. But what happens to that animal, when he’s only allowed to be civilized? The fierce beast that he was born to be, dies. It's the same with us. If we only do civilized things, our inner animal, the athlete will die. And here’s how it can be applied:
We often talk about “Post-Meet Blues”. It’s that time after a meet that we feel almost sad because it’s over. We’re bored and we don’t want to train because what’s the point. Most people’s advice is to pick another meet or set new goals. And that’s great advice! But recently for me, it wasn’t working. I had a not so great meet on paper. I left the day, knowing that I wasn’t done. I had more to prove to myself and I was ready to learn and grow. Fast forward, 2 weeks and I hadn’t stepped foot in the gym nor did I have the desire to. Why? Because I forgot that I’m an athlete. I allowed myself to become weighed down with the things civilized animals do.
If you’re an athlete you know that on game day and in training is when that animal inside is let out. You feel invigorated as if your truest self has arrived. But we’re people, with jobs and spouses and lives and sometimes we need to cage that beast. However, how Mike explains it, we should view everything we do as training. As athletes, everything we do can benefit or hinder our training. How and what we eat, how and when we rest, what we are consuming mentally, who we surround ourselves with, everything.
So instead of looking at meet day as the end of an era, as something to be mourned once it’s over, we should view it as a mile marker and the next step to something greater. The much-needed deload after a meet is a part of our training. Take that time to rest, repair, spend time with our families and friends because that is all a necessary part of our training.
We often get antsy during a deload but think about what we can accomplish and how it relates to game day. For instance, on my deloads, I’m able to work at a pace that allows me to get so far ahead that when I am in meet prep I don’t feel guilty for spending more time in the gym. In addition, rest and sleep are imperative to our performance. No really! Like, the most important thing you can do for recovery is sleep!
Time spent with family and friends on vacation is a part of your training. Relaxing, laughing and being happy with loved ones is important. We need love. We need people in our lives because it gives us something to fight for but we need them to know how much we love them so that time spent with them is a part of our training.
Don’t think of your deloads as time away from training instead think of it as an important part of it. Whether you have your next meet picked out or not, rebuilding and working on weaknesses is also an important piece of the puzzle.
It all requires balance. When we view all the things we do as a part of our training getting back to the gym doesn’t feel so daunting. It feels like the next right step. If we continue to think like athletes and do ALL the things that make us well rounded then the animal within will stay fierce and ready when it’s unleashed again.