When I was a young swimmer growing up in Iowa, I learned to give 100% – all the time. I learned to never let up; to never give anyone an edge at anytime.
Unlike wrestling, swimming was a sport I found success early on. My first couple years were dismal, but after that I was virtually unbeatable for several years.
When I was at University of Iowa, when the swimming coaches saw me training in the water to rehab a sprained ankle, they were stunned. One of the coaches, Dale Henry, pulled me aside and timed me in the 25 meter butterfly.
Afterward he called me into his office and told me, “You have the ability to swim a 47 flat 100-meter butterfly.” I looked out upon the Big 10 Records posted on the wall when he said this, and to my surprise, the record stated: Mark Spitz, Indiana – 47:00.
A year later I decided to quit wrestling and go with swimming. It was a decision that only lasted a couple weeks, in part because the season had already started and the team had already been chosen. Additionally, Gable and my parents wanted me back in the wrestling room. They didn’t like the switcheroo.
Do I have any regrets about going back to wrestling or not sticking with swimming beyond age 18. No. Especially when, if I wanted to, I could join a Master’s Swim Team right here in Tampa. And who knows. Maybe I will.
At any rate, back to giving it 100% – all the time.
This was also a Gable philosophy – but if I may, let me say that in terms of your health, and in terms of turning out championships,
it isn’t always right.
There are times to give 100 percent – and there are times to back off and strategically allow others to win so that you can rest up for the BIGGER race.
In the exercise realm, those who preach hard and heavy all the time, or training to failure all the time, are, for want of a better word … fools.
This past May, in a talk at my fitness seminar, Coach Gable talked about unraveling something that had bothered him since 1972. He told how he got ahead of the Soviet wrestler, 3-0, for the gold medal match. Then he felt his opponent shut down – so he shut down. And ever since this bothered him. He could have beaten him FAR, FAR worse. Why only beat him, 3-0. In a sense, he felt like he’d failed because he failed to give 100% for the whole
Then, this year – some 36 years later – while watching a football team “shut down” in the last minute of the game – he received his answer. Sometimes it is best to shut down and WIN. Every move you make after a victory is yours increases the potential for failure.
There is a time to give 100% and a time to back off and let the fruits of your labor manifest.
The great swimmers in Beijing – Michael Phelps and company, understand this fact. They will swim a race and lose – in the preliminary rounds. All they care about is getting into the finals – when the race of your life counts the MOST.
When it comes to physical training, I believe in DAILY training – but I do NOT believe in daily training to exhaustion, to failure, or with utmost intensity. I think that is dumb and the crippled and mangled bodies of those who advocate this ideal are testament to this fact. They may get away with it for awhile, but eventually Mother Nature calls the shots and their body begins to fall apart.
This is why it is essential that you follow exercise programs that both challenge you AND help you recover. This is why it is so important to have training routines like Dao Zou and the The Chinese Long-Life System. Routines that are simple and easy – but give your body/mind what it needs to recuperate and recharge.
Make sure you pick up both of these programs today.