No one predicted that William Mervin Mills would win the gold medal in the 10,000 meter run of the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo. A member of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux Tribe) from South Dakota, Billy was a United States Marine who attended the University of Kansas on an athletic scholarship for his considerable running abilities. Billy faced poverty as a youth, was orphaned at age twelve, and experienced repeated racial prejudice that led to suicidal thoughts. On top of it all, Billy had hypoglycemia, which affected his performance on the track. No one predicted Billy would win in Tokyo — no one, that is, but Billy.
I recently saw an exchange on Twitter between two professionals in the rehabilitation world. The original tweet mentioned a patient who had started deadlifting because they had a herniated lumbar disc. The first response was from a different professional questioning this course of action. He said something along the lines of, “Hmmmm, was this when he was symptomatic or asymptomatic?” To put this in more context, the person who posted the original tweet is not the person who started the deadlift program. The original person thought it was great this patient had decided to take action into his own hands instead of falling victim to the system. The second person was questioning whether a person with a herniated disc should be deadlifting. I hope you are not confused, because we are going to dive deep into the rabbit hole.
I’m tired of hearing several times a week from people I know, or come across, the “too” word when it comes to exercise!
I’m sure you hear it as well from your co-workers, neighbors, parents or grandparents. “I’m too old to lift weights, or my knees are too sore to walk, run, ski or fill in the ______. It pains me to hear folks say “I’m in too much pain to do this or do that. Too heavy, too weak, too busy…blah, blah, blah.
After reviewing the x-ray of my shoulder which I had hurt on the ski hill a few weeks earlier, my doctor said to me in his office “there’s nothing structurally wrong with it, just a little bursitis. You’re just getting old”. I was 54 at the time and my first thought was: “Screw you! I refuse to accept that I cannot continue to lead an active lifestyle”. Hell, except for a nagging pain in the shoulder that wouldn’t go away, I still skied and water-skied and felt like I did 10 years earlier. I was not going to sit on the couch and become a spectator and wither away. That doctor’s words resonated with me and motivated me. I refused to believe I was getting “old”, in fact, at that moment I banned the word from my vocabulary and proclaimed myself a “mature athlete”. I immediately embarked on a mission to rehab my shoulder and to get into the weight room to get strong and fit.
Whether it be physical or emotional, true strength is a demand.
Not a request.
If you are asking for it, waiting for it, or even praying for it, you have misjudged its fundamental nature; It is elusive and hard to come by, and won’t politely join by request those without the will to grab it by the throat, and squeeze until it cooperates.