The Power of the Will. In Squash, in life.

157 miles down, 157 miles to go. My friend and coach Gary Waite had reached the half way point between Montreal and Toronto. He set off with a group of keen young cyclists, all of whom were lost in his trail along the way. He told me he went about the trip in 4 hour spurts, eating large meals every stop and then hopping on his mountain bike to continue the trek. He arrived in the middle of the night sometime around 3AM. After the 23 hour ride he had made it. Gary stumbled into the lake near his friend’s place to cool off. That weekend Gary proceeded to play a professional hard ball tournament, legend has it he won the tournament and rode home.

Gary Waite

How is something like this possible? For most people the idea is inconceivable. Riding 314 miles to Montreal, playing a professional hard ball tournament, and then riding 314 miles home. The power of the will is an amazing thing. What are we capable of? Many people have set out to test the limits of human capacity and one thing is certain, you are capable of a lot more than you think.

Dean Karnazes, a man who had supposedly never ran long distance before, snuck away from his 30th birthday party to lace up some old runners. Dean hit the road, drunk, and ended up 30 miles out of town. Having run himself sober he had discovered a power within himself. 13 years later he achieved a stunning record of 50 marathons in 50 days. Running a 3:00:13 on his last day in New York. What are we really capable of?

Dean Karnazes on an ultra marathon trail run

Gary Waite continues to preach to me about a so called “switch”. He described it to me as “the million mile stare” when I was 15 years old. Here I am at 21 still trying to understand what he meant. No doubt he had this switch, the feats he achieved required unimaginable effort. Dean Karnazes clearly had this switch as well. Our body has the potential for incredible adaptability. Thorough testing was done on Dean during his 50/50 run. The testing showed that his body adjusted to the running schedule and did not allow CPK (the chemical responsible for muscles soreness) to rise about average levels after 3 – 4 days. By day 34 it had actually gone down!

How can we tap into this “switch”? I am certain that it has to due with the power of the will. Yiannis Kurous, a man who’s record run is 646 miles said “The pain is the reality, but your mind can inspire you past it,” and “when other people get tired they stop. I don’t. I take over my body with my mind, I tell it that it’s not tired and it listens.”

Yiannis Kurous

Now I am not recommending you go out and run 100 miles, but I am suggesting we seriously reconsider our capabilities. We live such cushy lives, the avoidance of pain should not be an ultimate end. Living outside of our comfort zone is not an unattainable reality. The further we push the boundaries the more we realize those boundaries aren’t there. Shakespeare wrote most of his plays in intense 24 hour periods of productivity. What are you really capable of?

Hustle it up!

1 thought on “The Power of the Will. In Squash, in life.”

  1. Interesting read Josh, thanx.
    Consider this, after speaking with countless squash professionals, I have come to learn 2 absolute facts about these fine-tuned athletes.
    1: There is ALWAYS something sore on a squash player’s body
    2: The world-class players can handle the pain better.
    I’m not sure this is a learned behavior as much as it is a mental conundrum. Besides, as a learned behavior, it borders on self-abuse to some degree. Nevertheless, a somewhat necessity if one desires to achieve a top world ranking.
    For the most part, the journey to the top requires outside assistance: coach(s), physio person and a sports psychologist. This also applies to any player that is looking to improve, although they may not have the need or money to afford all three, usually they elect to use just a teacher/coach.
    Mental training, utilizing visualization is yet another aspect that is not mentioned very often. I would suggest it during cool pre and post stretch, as well as during yoga.
    Perhaps a good article title should be: The mentality of squash

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