In the movie “Man on Fire,” Denzel Washington’s character tells his charge, a little girl on a swim team, that “there is no such thing as tough; there is only trained and untrained.” I love that line, regardless of whether or not I truly believe that there is no tough. But I firmly believe in the second part, that the greatest achievement is not some inborn gift of talent, or toughness, or speed, or whatever, but rather a dedication to becoming trained.
I try not to have drastic difference between training for a fight and training for maintenance. Obviously training toward a fight requires a pick up in intensity that I imagine is hard to maintain over a long period of time, but I try not to take it down too much during the months when I don’ t have a fight coming up. There is a psychological difference and I personally feel a kind of “come down” after a fight that can be really upsetting.
The come down makes me feel like I’m a lazy slob, even if I’m continuing with my training without any break between a fight and resuming training. I read an blog entry written by Kevin Ross a few months ago about the body dysmorphic disorder that is particular to sports that require making weight – you get so lean and cut in the days prior to a fight that anything other than that pique physical shape feels gross, overweight, soft, out of shape, etc. It’s disconcerting to feel out of shape at the addition of even one or two pounds!
And so it’s the same with the training. I keep working hard, running, working technique and striving to improve, even if it feels like treading water. It’s a struggle, but I have faith that it is making me better, even if I can’t see or feel it. Muhammad Ali said that he hated every moment of training, but he kept telling himself, “suffer now and live the rest of your life a champion.”