The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses --
behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road,
long before I dance under those lights.
-- Muhammad Ali, professional boxer
I hesitated to post something by someone whose worldview is such a radical departure from my own. I'm willing to ignore some critical differences for the moment and accept that Ali has something to offer us all. Say what you will about Ali's politics, religion, and personality - at one time, he dominated a professional sport. His pro record was 56-5-0.
My comments on the quote?
Contests and competitions are merely exams. They are the opportunities to determine if your training and preparation have been working, or slacking. Folks exercise for all sorts of reasons: stress relief, fat loss, habit, guilt. However, if your training is meant to actually make you better at some physical task or challenge, then you need frequent "tests."
I've experienced all sorts of personal successes and failures. I look back on times in my life when I was the victor standing over some "challenger"....whether the challenger be an actual person or an abstract goal or feat. I've also been that defeated, dejected loser lying on his back wondering what happened. I know both emotions well.
Some of my training time and efforts were completely wasted by adhering to un-truths. Other times, I could definitively say that my training pushed me to win! We must learn how to cause the proper physical and neurological adaptations in our bodies to become more able and fit. But without those opportunities to succeed or fail, we can only guess to the effectiveness of our efforts.
So what sorts of challenges, sports, events, contests, or other measuring sticks do YOU use to gauge progress and keep your fitness program on track?