If You Can Take It, You Can Make It

In the movie “Unbroken”, Louis “Louie” Zamperini’s brother gives him the advice “if you can take it, you can make it”. This is very true when it comes to most things in life. Most of us will not go through such harsh treatment as Louis Zamperini did, but most of us have been to the point in life where we’ve wanted to quit. I have read numerous blogs, magazine articles, books, and listened to lectures on the subject of mental and physical preparation training. I have realized that that if I just hold on for just one more lap, one more mile, or one more lift, I am stronger and better than I was when I started.

While attending high school, I was on the wrestling and cross country teams, and on many occasions I wanted to quit or at least skip out on practice. I stuck it out and very seldom missed practice, and most days I would stay after practice or do another training session at home after practice. To my amazement I never died or got seriously injured, but I did get better after each training session. Also to my amazement, no matter how bad it seemed or how rough the coach made the training session, I made it to the end of the training and was better than I was before I started that training session. Sometimes I did not realize it until a week later, or after the bumps and bruises healed that I was better, but I always found out at some point it was worth it.

All the talk lately about not needing base training goes against this train of thought. If you never put in the miles “take it” how are you going to do the miles on race day “make it”? At some point during your training for an endurance event you are going to have to push yourself physically and mentally in order to prepare your body and mind for the long day on race day. I am not saying you have to go out and do 150 miles on the bike and then run 30 miles to “take it” to “make it”, but what I am saying is that if you are doing long rides of only 50 miles and long runs of 10 miles, how are you going to be ready on race day to do 112 miles on the bike followed by 26.2 miles of running, all after starting the day with a 2.4-mile swim.

I do understand that everyone is different and everyone has different goals. I do believe in individual training plans and outcomes. I just believe and will always believe that the body cannot perform a task if it has never been exposed to the task at some point. I have found out that for me, a long run on Wednesday with two long rides on the weekend (one Saturday, one Sunday) works best for me. These may not be the length of the full distance I plan on racing, but it makes my body perform when it has already taken a good hard beating from the distance and speed I plan to race at. I know if my body takes the beating of three long days a week, it will take the long stress of an event.

That is my two cents on “take it, to make it”. What are your thoughts on this subject?

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9 thoughts on “If You Can Take It, You Can Make It

  1. I think this can also be a double-edged sword. How many of us are guilty of “taking it” when it comes to working through one pain or another, just to find that we’ve really screwed something up? Or become so angry at that point that we get to “here’s that f#$%^ng pain again, I’m just going to ignore it and work through it!” and we end up back in the ortho’s office being told that we need to stop doing whatever it is we’re doing. There’s definitely a fine line between pushing the badass and training smart.

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  2. Awesome post! I really enjoyed the movie “Unbroken” as well. If you get the chance, I think reading the book is even better. Talk about not base training?! What?! Noooo. Base training is so important for a healthy start to the progression of one’s training, to prevent injury, etc. Individualized training plans are definitely the way to go. You’re right, everyone’s base, build, peak, and taper will look different! I like the “if you can take it, you can make it” mentality! Again, good post!

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    1. I am with you on base training is the foundation of all training, but there has been a lot of coach, athletes, and others posting long articles and blogs saying it is no longer required and people are just wasting time doing it. I do base training all winter and most of the early spring and go back to it between “A” races to rebuild.

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      1. Well, I am glad to hear that some of us athletes are still doing it the safe way. I can respect different theories on training, but there are some things that simply reap better results if done the right way. Keep up the good work / writing!

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  3. Something I should maybe be thinking about myself. I tend to over exercise as well, but I am slowly learning my own limits. But then again you are talking about much longer distance that I ever cover in one day. Great article! great take on the matter!

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    1. The article here does talk about longer distance events, but I found the same thing to be true when I used to just race 5km and 10km road races. It is the same outlook, I have on this year’s season and I am doing Olympic distance races, 10 mile bike Time Trials, and two Half-Ironman distance events. I think the same approach is true for fast short events as well.

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  4. Thanks for your great blog wayne.
    I think I’m largely with you on pushing yourself, or your athlete to experience some of the deep holes they’ll encounter during their endurance events (here, my mind is on Ironman).
    I have some sympathy for the chatter against ‘base training’ – particularly when the base training has reduced to ambling along through winter months, going through the motions and possibly diminishing the athlete’s potential performance.
    Your experience of long hard work certainly laid a base for your training that arguably prevails to this day.
    I like to think of the argument in terms of intensity. Do the high mileage sessions, also include intervals of high intensity? If so, then along with the huge psychological benefit of experiencing a saddle for six hours, the athlete will also make physiological gains that they can put to use on race day.
    I’d suggest what you’re describing is closer to the “no base training” position than it first seems. Back to back high intensity sessions would certainly fall into the ‘no-base’ philosophy but also satisfies the old skool pain-gain, hard work approach.
    I’m looking forward to your blog on training female athletes.
    Best,
    Paul

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    1. Thank you Paul, I agree that the problem with some base training is just long long long with no effort is not good. Mixing it up in the winter or “off season” is good for the body. I think we are agreeing and saying the same thing. Do base training but make it count.

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