The Most Challenging Hour of the Week

Growth isn’t easy. My philosophy on it is better explained here, but in short it takes serious effort and long-term commitment.

I’ve been a runner for the balance of my life. Yes, I’ve fallen off of the horse a few times (and at times for quite a bit of time), but as a whole it’s always been in my front pocket, helping to shape my personality, character and drive. In doing so, it’s commanded much of me over the years in emotional, mental, and physical capacities, and through it all I’ve been both healthy and injured. The latter sucks.

I have a firm handle on myself today but I didn’t always. You see, in most cases when an avid runner (or athlete) is injured, all hell breaks loose. You might have a friend or family member like this and can relate, although if you don’t, consider yourself blessed because when we get hurt we turn into fidgety, anxiety-ridden, over-analytical headcases.

Whenever I’d get hurt, which in my early marathon-ing career was often, I’d spend hours on a massage table, endure countless sessions with physical therapists, eat dinner while sitting on racquet balls, ice, stress, pop ibuprofen. For weeks on end I’d think on and bore people who couldn’t give less of a shit with my skittishness, before going to sleep each night with the wish that tomorrow would be the day that I’d wake up and my ankle or hip or leg would be miraculously cured.

In 2015 my friend Erin and I ran a 10k together and afterward I met her husband John, a solid guy with a passion for fitness. A personal trainer, to boot. He’s way into volleyball, so we talked that and running. Life. Sports. I told him of the few experiences I’d had with other trainers and we had a few laughs. One guy I worked with put me through a routine utilized by an Olympic women’s bobsled team after I told him I wanted to be a stronger runner! He’d snagged it out of a men’s fitness magazine. Another trainer didn’t even show up for our second scheduled session at 6am.

I went home after that race and thought for a bit.

A few weeks later, at a crossroad, healthy but tired of having wasted time and money, I found myself still inspired by John and his passion for performance. I pointed the finger at myself and asked,

“what can I do to improve my well-being, health, and at the same time reduce my time on the sideline – if not eliminate it altogether?”

The answer? Be proactive. I called John.

The next weekend he sat down with me to get a handle on my goals and to level set, and to get to know me, something he does with all of his potential new clients. As mentioned before, my previous experiences with trainers had left me unimpressed. There had been little focus on “training” and even less on the “personal.” I liked this get-to-know-each-other session.

We started slow, once a month. Today we work together once a week and have been doing so for over a year and a half. Our sessions are my most challenging hour of the week.

I wake up every Thursday at 4:15am. I eat, and drink water (with some Bragg’s!). I grab my bag, packed from the night before: toiletries, clothes for work. I leave my place at 4:45am and head to Energy Training Center (ETC). I arrive at 5:10-ish to store my bag and foam roll. Stretch. Sometimes bitch and moan. At 5:30am sharp John, Sean (long-time friend and session partner since last summer) and I begin our warm-up. I shit you not, the warm-up is a workout in itself. After 10 minutes when we’re warm and loose, to put it lightly, John kicks our ass. Said another way, he pushes us. Challenges us. Supports us. Encourages us. Sean and I challenge each other. We compete. It’s 50 brutal, grueling minutes of focus, dig, work, push, “I can,” breathe, “one more,” don’t quit, push, just do it, “I will,” I did. It’s equal parts effort, wishing it’d be over and wishing it’d last forever. It’s emotional. It really fucking hurts. And when it’s over at 6:30am I lay immobile on the gym floor, a puddle of sweat and accomplishment. Ready for that shower, protein shake and coffee before most are ready to get out of bed.

A snapshot of the most challenging hour of the week: Thursday, April 20th.

I run long distances year-round: 25/30 miles a week off-season and 60+ (20-30% of which miles are high intensity) when training for a marathon. These hours spent with John and Sean are on the other side of the spectrum and demand such different levels and types of cardiovascular strength and power. While this weekly hour is the most challenging, it’s also the hour that I most look forward to. Gains experienced here are those I was incapable of experiencing on my own.

If you’re looking for personal, physical, and emotional challenges, I highly recommend that you reach out to John, my trainer, my friend and the owner at One Goal Training. He’ll push you, you’ll push yourself and I guarantee it’ll be the most challenging hour of your week. But that’s a good thing.

Author: Kevin Baum

I'm a Chicago native with a passion for style, fitness, travel, and personal improvement. And pizza!