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If you follow me on Instagram, which you should (shameless plug) because I can provide more context for what I do, you may notice a weird habit I have when I train. One of the things I try to teach kids is discipline, so I use my Instagram stories to

document my own efforts toward discipline. Among those stories, you’ll notice I often train with the lights off, and the hashtag #DoneInTheDark somewhere in a quick snapshot.

While I do train in the dark often, #DoneInTheDark has nothing to do with the lights being off. I generally just don’t turn them on to save on the facility power bill. More so, it is a mentality rather than a physical state.

“What is done in the dark is shown in the light.”

In training, the ability to put forth effort is crucial to making progress and succeeding in a sport. The ability to go to a dark place inside the mind. To shut out the outside world and grind a little.

Going to a dark spot in the mind is not getting angry. It is not about self-deprecation or self-hatred, as some confuse it to be. It is about accepting discomfort. It is about pushing yourself with no eyes on you. Self-determination. Self-awareness. It is about embracing the pain.

Recently, I’ve been trying to teach these things to the kids I coach. I often find that with all the distraction and seeking for affirmation, that young athletes have a hard time pushing themselves (within limits). It is difficult to shut out the world and the dopamine kick of Instagram likes or Snapchat Streaks. But doing so is necessary.

In trying to teach kids how to get stuff “Done In The Dark”, I’ve incorporated one of my favorite finishers from Travis Mash’s program “Squat Everyday”: Walking Lunges. They seem simple enough with no weight, but do them with any semblance of high volume they quickly turn the legs into a burning sensation that finds you seeking some form of distraction. Except I take away the ability for distraction. No words are to be spoken during this lesson, which can last upwards of 200 yards. No jokes between a friend to ignore the pain.

The result? In these instances it is easy to find the athletes who go on to the next level. Their response is often “I liked that.” They get it. They know how to go to a dark space. For others, it is revealing of where they are currently and what they must embark on to get where they want to be.

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