we’re starting with what???

Blood. Sweat. Tears. Urine.

All by-products of one things: college preseason workouts.

And yes, I said urine. Because sometimes, you just gotta go when you’re on that 3 mile trail run…mmmkay?

I know by looking at me, you might think, “She was a college athlete? She wears pink and pearls, and she snorts when she laughs!”

Yes, that is true, and I’ll admit, I have more stilettos than soccer shorts now (although my sports bra collection is out of control! But we won’t get into that…), but trust me, back in the day, I was a lean, mean, weight-lifting machine! Now, I don’t normally discuss sports or working out, since this blog is not really a healthy living blog, per se, but I DO have a lot of insight and stories from the wide world of sports, so every once in a while, I’ll toss a post in about my forays into the soccer ball kicking, weight lifting, protein shake drinking, aerobics world…sans the spandex (well, most of the time ;))

Today I thought I’d share a little glimpse into the horrors dreamland of preseason camp. Preseason is (obviously) the period before the actual season starts, where coaches, trainers, and innocent bystanders mock, humiliate, torture and then rebuild their team, in the hopes of preparing them for the grueling season ahead. At UArk (University of Arkansas), our preseason lasted two weeks, and was usually held in a location separate from our school. This was done mainly for the fact that we would be spending so much time at our normal workout facilities, that a change of pace would only do our minds some good. I like to think it was to add to the disorientation that our bodies would soon be experiencing…plus, it’s harder to find the bodies when they’re somewhere deep in the woods at an undisclosed location, right?

For my sophomore year, preseason was held at Beaver Lake, about an hour and a half from Fayetteville. Beaver Lake boasted a massive body of water, splendidly steep trails, and plenty of flat areas for those times when you just felt like going for a good, heart-pumping, all out sprint. We were fortunate to have an assistant coach with some great connections, so our housing set up consisted of two, side-by-side lake houses, complete with two giant boats. The team was split in two, with the girls spread out throughout the common areas, while the coaches and trainers set up camp in the bedrooms.

In the early morning, we carbo-loaded, prepping for a day of three-a-days. What are three-a-days? Well, picture a grueling, heart-pumping, total body workout…got the image in your head? Now times that by three. Easy peasy.

Early mornings were spent trail running with one of our assistant coaches, Anna. Let me quickly tell you something about Anna. She was the number one ranked triathlete in the Southwest region. A pint-sized steamroller describes her a little better. She could bench press me, and then throw me 20 yards if she wanted to (which, who wouldn’t, really?)…but she was also fantastic, and a great motivator, and I bonded with her the most. Now, during these runs, I did NOT like her, simply for the fact that running was never a simple jog. We would start out on the trails, Anna bouncing ahead in front of us, a drill sergeant on crack, and every time you heard, “SPRINT!” you would do just that…up steep hills…down steep hills…through trees…dodging rocks and squirrels. After about a minute, Anna would screech, “JOG!”, where then your fast sprint turned into a slower sprint. After another minute, you were sprinting again….and again…for about 3-4 miles…and did I tell you about the hills?

After a week of these runs, it no longer was about form, technique, or holding your bodily fluids inside so as not to offend your teammates. The sprints became all out limb flinging, as if throwing your arms around could make that hill go by faster. Picture Phoebe from Friends running through Central Park, and I think you’ll have the idea :). Also, if the urge came to puke or pee..well, you did just that…sometimes on the trail, sometimes from the comfort of your own personal prickly bush, and sometimes at the same time (you’re wishing I was still that pearl wearing, sweet girl, aren’t you?) The best way to do it? Just don’t stop! Keep going! Peeing and running is like rubbing your tummy and patting your head. It takes a bit of practice, but once you have the method down, it can be a real crowd pleaser!

Morning runs were followed by a quick refuel, then off to the fields for some technical ball work. This was easily my favorite part of the day, because at least the running involved the sport I was training for! Plus, kicking balls became a cathartic release of anger and tension towards my coach. (Feel free to insert as many TWSS jokes as you like :)) Two hours later, we would break for lunch, then change into swimsuits for workout numero tres.

Remember those boats I mentioned? Well, like cattle going off to slaughter we’d load up on a boat with our coach at the helm, and drive out into the middle of the lake. There, our coach would simply say, “Get out!”. I’m sorry, what? You see, one of the unfortunate workout concepts developed by my coach was to drop us off in the middle of an unfamiliar lake, drive off, and make us swim to find him. Life preservers? Those were for sissys! Tracking devices? Use what God gave you! Your eyes! Your ears! Your sense of smell! So there we were, 20 girls, bobbing in the water like soggy apples, except the carnival has packed up and gone and all that’s left is the sad faces of 20 girls, wondering where all the fun has gone? We’d swim aimlessly for a bit, until one girl (usually the one with the 20/20 vision) would shout, “I see ’em!” and we’d frantically doggy paddle in the direction of the hidden speed boat. Once on board, it was a lather/rinse/repeat situation: drive out to another spot, (dejectedly) hop out, and continue the rather cruel game of cat and mouse. Workout number three, halfway done.

The last portion of was either another running exercise, or a crash course in “how to keep from drowning” in the water. For instance, our coach would take the boat (are you sensing a pattern here?) out into the water, and have us swim after him. After securing the location for our slaughter workout, he’d have us stop and tread water. Then Anna would take us through various exercises while treading water. High knees! Run in place! Arm circles only! We’d tread, and tread….and tread. For about an hour or so we’d stay in there, the only spot of relief coming from a lone pool noodle that acted as the “helper-outer”. When a girl would get too tired, the noodle would be passed, and she could rest for a bit with the help of the flotation device. However, as much as the noodle aided in the “I’m about to drown” feeling, it also acted as a giant sissy stamp, marking whichever girl who held it with a big sign that read, “I”m not strong enough to keep up”. Therefore, most of the time, the noodle lay still and silent on the back end of the boat, each girl afraid to wear that stamp.

After a complete day of workouts, the evenings were usually spent recuperating back at the houses, getting massaged, iced, and bandaged for the following day. Our poor trainers, they put up with so much! The cursing, slapping, and sometimes biting they would endure during our therapy time would make a grown man blush! I mean, as much fun as getting pulled quad muscles rubbed out sounds, it really isn’t all that pleasant. All it takes is just one pressure point being activated to make a girl go all Twilight on someone. So, my dear trainers, for that, and the many more demoralizing acts we performed on you…I’m sorry. From the bottom of my still beating heart!

By the end of the two weeks, we’d pack up, drag our poor, tired selves onto the vans, and make the drive back to campus, where we’d have a couple of days off to gear up for the lesser two-a-days…

As much as preseason sucked…and BOY HOWDY did it suck, it also was a vital part of our preparation for the upcoming season. That very first game of the season would have been a lot more difficult had it not been for the prior 2 weeks of torture. As much as I hated preseason, it was one of the most effective ways to get back into shape after summer.

this is what happens to delusional, tired girls...

so, anyone else have a crazy boot camp experience? Ever played a college sport?

hearts and happy-it’s-over hugs,

B.

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