I've been saying, "I'm anti-hardcore. Being hardcore is stupid. Don't be hardcore" for a few years now.
But it never quite sounded right.
Here's what I meant: being "stupidly hardcore" is continuing to exercise or train through an initial injury, not respecting your body if you're underslept, fatigued, stressed, ill, over-heating, dehydrated, or similar -- and not just physically, but also mentally, and also in terms of teamwork and leadership.
Take Bill Walsh, the NFL coach. In the excellent book The Score Takes Care of Itself, his son reminisces:
"He [Bill Walsh] recognized that the old boys' network that defined the NFL management and ownership in those days [didn't appreciate that] his style was not traditional, not heavy-handed. It was more professional or corporate in style than the shouting and screaming, intimidation, and punishment that were the usual tools of old-school head coaches in the league. Here's a very small example: In those days, one method of "toughening up" players was to prohibit them from drinking any water while they were on the field during practice. Bill Walsh allowed it, because he saw no gain in the policy. In fact, he felt that depriving players of water during practice was counterproductive; it lowered performance. The "toughening up" approach, however, was the one owners felt comfortable with because it had been around since the start."
The owners of the day liked to see the players "being hardcore."
Bill Walsh was too busy to be hardcore. He was too busy winning three Super Bowls, being twice-named Coach of the Year, and assembling one of the most impressive sets of innovations and career in completely turning the San Francisco 49ers from a laughingstock to a powerhouse.
The owners liked hardcore. Stupidly hardcore.
So I say I'm anti-hardcore, but it doesn't sound right. I do believe in being disciplined, rigorous, mentally tough, conditioning one's mind and body, being service oriented... I believe in being fanatical in doing the right thing, I'm anti-expediency, I think complaining is the second lamest thing in the world, second only to crying about things without improving them.
But hydration is real, and stress is real, and sleep is needed, and training through injuries is typically a really bad idea.
If I tweak something in a workout, I just stop. It doesn't matter. One workout being crummy doesn't matter. But when you rip the cartilage in your knee, that screws your life up.
I did that, being hardcore, once. Too much weight doing squats. 215 lbs while I weighed around 170 or 180. But I wasn't genuinely at that level. My form was off. And when I started to feel a little weak, I didn't want to go down in weight. Look at those plates! WOW I'm manly.
Was it worth all the physical therapy?
Hell no it wasn't.
It wasn't worth all the physical therapy I had to go through. The days of being unable to walk. Getting prescribed an obscene amount of anti-inflammatories. I still have to stretch every day or my left knee starts hurting.
So when I've said I'm anti-hardcore, that's what I mean. Don't do that. And if you've got some ultra-bro idiot in your social circle that wants to push other people unsafely past their limits, (1) don't do that yourself, and (2) tell them to knock it off and stand up to it if they're pushing other people into doing dumb stuff.
And yet, "anti-hardcore" doesn't sound right. I do believe in being "good hardcore" in training -- disciplined and rigorous, tough, methodical.
But I think I've got a new phrase for it.
Stupidly hardcore = stupidcore.
Yeah, I'm against that.
This post helped me avoid a training injury today at the gym.
I was about to train through it, then remembered reading this post months ago, and thought in 2 days, I have another opportunity, that I will take, to get stronger for good. Don't throw away that future growth just for pride.
Another of yours, the Improving When Your Friends Aren't post, has also helped me to respect my friends' choices, and still appreciate who they are and the time they spend with me.
It stopped a strongly negative thought cycle and helped me into a more warm and gracious mood, where I also updated my site, to follow your advice in that post to liberally offer to help people.
Can't say enough thanks to you for writing things that are so effective and applicable.
P.S. I'm based in Boulder, CO, USA at the moment. If you need anything around the Colorado area -- local products, information, just plain feet on the ground -- shoot me an email. Least I can possibly do!
As an 18 year old, this is all around me all the time. This happens with both sides--the overly ambitious types and the aggressively "YOLO" types. But, like you, I had a knee injury by pushing too hard a few years ago (my genetics were always there, and then overactivity triggered it), and if I don't walk for a few hours a day and stretch every few hours, I start to feel very, very uncomfortable.
I believe in pushing and toughness, too, but doing extreme things just to be extreme is "stupidcore." I learned that the hard way over the past few years, too.
There's a Russian saying that's perfect for this:
"Heroes are in demand where there is a shortage of professionals.”
In knowing when to push in work and Crossfit, I've learned to be aware of and differentiate between pain and discomfort / resistance / fear. The former is a sign you're about to approach stupidcore.
I teach Kundalini yoga and some sets can be challenging. What I tell students at the beginning of every class is that this is a no injury yoga class. I ask if anyone has any existing injuries. I tell everyone (injury or not) to listen to their body and if they think they will injury themselves to stop the exercise, stop and start or modify the pose.
And I say that a lot of the blocks are mental, emotional or spiritual. So if that is the case use your breath and intention to do just one more rep of the exercise and see if you can get your "second wind".
It is up to them to tell the different between those kind of blocks and potential injuries.
After 5 years of teaching no injuries, so this method is working good.
He was an American guy, fresh out of university, doing some mix of public relations and something like espionage for the Chinese government in Shanghai. Interesting guy - I'd been shooting pool by myself and he asked if I'd be up for a game. Sure.
So we chatted - he was in Shanghai to go through the Expo and talk to everyone foreign about their experiences. Being a young, white, American guy with a light East Coast accent, he blended in and was basically invisible. He was able to get an impression of what journalists really thought and people at the Expo really thought. He was getting paid decently for this and having a really fun time.
He added that he wasn't just there to make sure the publicity for the Expo was good: When he reported in that a number of people felt that workmanship setting up their display areas was shoddy and the local contractors had cheated them, Shanghai officials reached out to them, made it right, and took the contractors to task.
He seemed like a solid guy, athletic, hard working, smart, well read - kind of guy that's going to do a lot in life. I used to live in Boston, so I asked him if he followed the Red Sox or Celtics.
I still remember his answer. "No, I don't like spectator sports. Playing sports, sure. Spectator sports, no."
Phil Jackson: 6'8", athletic, and charismatic. A former player that had the respect of everyone. 11 rings as a head coach and 2 as a player. A practitioner of Zen Buddhism.
Bill Belichick -- Too small to play football, son of a coach and scout. Uncharismatic, but has been studying film since he was 9 years old. He gained respect by his knowledge of the game. 4 rings as a head coach and 2 as a defensive coordinator.
Jackson was a master of dealing with egos. In the NBA, guys like Kobe, Jordan, Shaq, don't come around very often. So as a head coach, it is much more difficult to have only "your type of guys" if you want to win an NBA championship when compared to the NFL.
When Chicago was going on their 2nd run, they recognized a need for interior defense. After clearing it with Scottie and Michael, they traded for Dennis Rodman and Phil assimilated the enigmatic player into a key piece in the 1996-98 3peat.