Embrace what's hard

My college lacrosse coach was notorious for his difficult workouts. Every day he showed up to practice with a clipboard, and one of us would sneak over to catch a peek and see what special kind of hell we were in for that day.

Coach Nestor's practices were tough. He timed everything down to the second, and eventually trained us all to warm up before practice so no time was wasted there either. He was in his first head coaching gig back then, so he had a lot to prove. His practices were strict and we often conditioned at the beginning, middle, and end of every practice. Suicides, cone drills, endless push ups and sit ups - sprints in the local parking garage and down through the howling winds near Lake Erie in January.

(We were also required to run a mile for each minute we were late. No one was ever late, except Molly one time. And she ran a lot).


One day my teammate Sandy took a look at the dreaded clipboard and came back to the rest of us, who were huddled together, nervously awaiting our suffering for that day.

"Line drills?" Stacy asked.


"Five minutes of double suicides?" Melissa suggested.

No," Sandy said. "Heart attacks!!"

There was a collective groan, but Sandy, a team captain who wore a little bit of crazy both on and off the field threw her arms up in the air and screamed:

"Embrace the suck baby!!!"

She was a little crazy (which also made her an All-American Defender), but she was also right.

We dreaded Coach Nestor's practices because they were hard. They were a grind. But the only way out was through. His practices felt like a lesson in brutality, but the trade-off was a pair of ECAC Championships and a shared number one ranking in Division II women's lacrosse my senior year. I believe we out-worked some of the other teams. 

And sometimes that's what it comes down to. Jim Nestor has since gone on to win a couple of national championships at Salisbury State University, and I promise you that his players are still doing heart attacks and running stairs at the local parking garage. And I promise you that they are still sneaking peeks at his clipboard to find out what kind of conditioning they have to suffer through that day. 

I see this same phenomenon when clients come in for one of my team training classes. They take a look at the chalkboard with exercises on it and groan. Burpees today? Ugh. Surfer Hops? 

The word hard is defined as "requiring a great deal of endurance or effort."

So many of us know what we need to do to make change in our lives, whether it's around fitness and nutrition or saving more money and learning meditation. 

In fact, I think meditation is the best example out there of an activity that is so simple and yet so very, very hard. You just sit there, right? Focus on your breathing? 

Change is hard. Being a good adult is hard. Workouts are hard. 

But it doesn't 'mean you can't do it. You need support. You need encouragement. You need understanding, and very often, you need every bit of help you can find to get on the other side.

I survived those heart attacks during practice because my teammate Hillary and I did them together and pushed each other through. 

Embrace the hard. Embrace the suck. 

And if you need a little help along the way, don't hesitate to reach out and ask. 


What works for you though? What doesn't work? My comment section below is awfully lonely these days. Good, bad, or otherwise, feel free to comment below with thoughts or questions about fitness. Or baseball trivia. Or your pets name. Or whatever.