I put on my 44-pound weighted X Vest and look upward at the hill in front of me. The 50 to 60 degree incline is a daunting sight. It’s going to be a real challenge today. I start to run, steadily, up the hill. Three-quarters of the way up, my legs are burning; my breath is coming in ragged gasps. Yet, ahead of me, there is another guy moving steadily, legs churning in rhythm with his breathing. He is outpacing me and I struggle to catch up to him today.
I don’t succeed. I do manage to take three seconds off of my best time though. The other guy flashes a grin at me. I can’t hate him. He is the same age as me and has suffered the same injuries that I have. He beat me fair and square. Silently, I make a vow… next time, I will catch you.
I am in the weight room at the gym. Today is leg day and I am going to make this day one to remember. I start off with leg presses: 3 sets of 15 reps, each repetition correct with 90 degree bend, no bouncing the weight at the bottom and full extension at the top. So far so good.
Now I increase the weight with four 45-pound plates on each side for 12 reps, then five on each side for 12, then six for just four reps.
I continue with leg extensions, leg curls, and calf raises. I am spent. I run a half-mile around the track to warm down and then I sit down.
Now the other guy starts his routine, moving effortlessly through the stacks. He does the same weights as I do except he finishes with six plates on each side for 12 correct repetitions. He matches what I have done on the other exercises and then adds 25 more pounds on each one. He is stronger than I am, leaner too by 10 pounds. He runs three miles on the track after finishing up the brutal leg workout. It’s just a warm down for him.
I gaze over at him. “Pretty impressive performance,” I think to myself. “Someday, that will be me.”
I’m on the range, training with my carry handguns. Today I am working on high speed drawing skills, drawing from a variety of positions and conditions. I am working on drawing and firing a good shot in under a second at 15 yards. I work for 30 minutes, managing to get the time down to the .90-95 range. Then I do a few in the .85-.90 range. I feel pretty good about that.
Now this guy is shooting the same drills as I am–except he is doing it at 25 yards. I try to picture and get my mind wrapped around how he is doing it. It looks so effortless and he does it consistently. Puzzled, I wonder how he is doing that and I make a note to really pay attention to what I am doing because I want to shoot like that guy does.
At times, I can match his performance. Those are the times when I am doing my training like I should, giving it my best effort each and every time and not holding back–doing things as well as I can, not just as fast as I can. Overall though, that guy is stronger, leaner, faster, more skilled and a better overall performer than I am.
He is not arrogant or base; he always has an encouraging smile on his face, except when he is performing. Then it is a look of supreme focus, relaxation and awareness of the task at hand.
He gets up each morning at 5:30 a.m. and invites me to go along on a training hike, a run, or a bike ride.
He sits down to each meal and eats simple, plain fare packed with nutrition but not an ounce of wasted calorie or nutrient.
Without a word, he gets his shooting gear together almost every morning and dry fires. He pays attention to his performance, working patiently to improve his skills.
He goes to the range, in most weather conditions, with a smile on his face and a feeling of anticipation of how much better he is going to be shooting today than the time before. He makes sure that I know I am welcome to come with him any time I like.
He trains with a single-minded focus and determination.
In competition and in real life, he is totally committed to mission. He performs at a level few can match, yet he takes time to be a good friend, with kind words for others.
He makes time in his day to be a loving husband and father. He greets each challenge or problem calmly and objectively.
Who is that guy?
That guy is me, or rather, the guy I want to be. He is my alter ego, my mentor, my coach and my inspiration. I want to be able to perform like he does, when it counts, both in competition and when others may depend on my skills in a crisis.
He is a choice I have in my mind; to stay where I am at or to be like him. He is the invisible pull that makes me feel restless because I know that he is out training or doing things that I should be doing.
I have trained for over 30 years now to catch up to his level. I am closer now than I have ever been… but I am not there yet. He is still ahead of me. The only way I can catch him is to be just like him and train like him.
And so I will.
Catch your dreams; they are closer than you think.
Co-founder, Tactical Performance Center