Here’s the story my coach shared with the team at the very beginning of what would turn out to be our national championship season.
It propelled us to a gold medal, and it will drive you to be your best…but only if you take it to heart!
It very well could have been that epic speech from your favorite fictional sports movie, but after a little research, it turns out that it was completely true!
So here’s the story:
In 1911, the world was running out of new lands to discover, so the South Pole became a desirable goal for many explorers. The race to the South Pole between John Falcon Scott and Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen was on.
The environment was uncertain and unforgiving; where temperatures could easily reach -30 °C even during the summer. They had no means of modern communications – no cell phones, no satellite links, no radio – a rescue would have been improbable were they to err. One leader led his team to victory and safety. The other led his team to defeat and death.
A striking a difference between the preparations between the two men was the discipline of Amundsen to press forward in bad weather and hold back his team in good weather:
Throughout the journey, Amundsen adhered to a regimen of consistent progress, never going too far in good weather, careful to stay away from the red line of exhaustion that could leave his team exposed, yet pressing ahead in nasty weather to stay on pace.
Amundsen throttled back his well-tuned team to travel between 15 and 20 miles per day, in a relentless march to 90 degrees south.
When a member of Amundsen’s team suggested they could go faster, up to 25 miles a day, Amundsen said no. They needed to rest and sleep so as to continually replenish their energy.
In contrast, Scott would sometimes drive his team to exhaustion on good days and then sit in his tent and complain about the weather on bad days. At one point, Scott faced 6 days of gale force winds and traveled on none, whereas Amundsen faced 15 and traveled on 8.
Amundsen clocked in at the South Pole right on his pre-decided pace, having averaged 15.5 miles per day. Scott in contrast fell behind early, with no plan of a daily pace, and as the conditions worsened, enhanced by his lack of preparation for unforeseen events, he and his team never recovered.
On December 15, 1911, Amundsen, and his team reached the South Pole. He and his teammates planted the Norwegian flag and then went right back to work on their journey home.
Amundsen and his team reached home base on January 25th, the precise day he had planned. Running out of supplies, Scott, and his team stalled in mid-March, exhausted and depressed.
Eight months later, a British reconnaissance party found the frozen bodies of Scott and two teammates in a forlorn, snow-drifted little tent, just ten miles short of his supply depot. His whole team had perished.
Now back to my story.
That steady desire to improve every day set the stage for success.
Every practice that year, every workout, every match, every healthy meal was that same mindset. We need to put in our 20-mile march to get to our target.
We didn’t work any harder during the sunny days, but we also didn’t sit in our tent and complain about the weather or how busy our schedules were, or how tired we were on the rough days.
As a team, and as individuals, we decided that if we wanted to win, there would be no great days, no bad days, just a whole string of good days. We put in that 20-mile march every day so we had the chance to reach our goal.
Sure enough…at the end of the season, we had the chance to experience that we had the chance to experience that court storming moment every athlete dreams of!
What’s your 20-mile march?
When it comes to your strength training, are you like Scott or Amundsen? When is the last time you went to the gym and put in a ’20 mile march’?
Consistency trumps intensity EVERY SINGLE TIME! The person who commits to strength training year round will ALWAYS get better results than the person who does the extended, grueling workouts… but only a few months of the year.
If you are going to get started with strength training…commit to the 20-mile march. Be consistent, rather than going all out… ‘but only when you have the time’
To start your 20-mile march… just enter your email address below, and download “The FIRST 5 Exercises an Athlete Should Learn”.
PS. I stitched together the text for this version of the Scott vs. Amundson story from a variety of online sources. Sorry if I plagiarized.