Once you go nitrous you can’t go back. Once you know what it’s like to run at that speed, to breathe that air, you never want to go back to how things were before. One of the best ways to reach that peak state is competition. After driving a supercar, driving a normal car pales in comparison. You find yourself counting the minutes until you can get back behind the wheel of a vehicle that has some serious horsepower. High performance becomes your new normal.

There are many solid reasons to compete in the shooting sports, MMA, Boxing, Kickboxing, Grappling/Wrestling, or Racing sports. However, for a lot of folks it’s just not feasible. Whatever the reasons might be, competition is off the table for some of us. I would still encourage those folks to participate in competition team training. Helping a team mate get ready for an event is an incredibly bonding experience. This time spent in a competition prep environment also encourages our game to evolve. We’re exposed to the cutting edge of performance, learn how to push ourselves further than we normally would, and reset the idle on our engine. After a fight camp or competition prep we walk around idling at a higher rate than we did before. I have a friend that recently did her first figure competition. She mentioned that she thought she knew how to train hard yet found that during the prep phase for this competition she trained harder than she had ever trained. She’s found it difficult to transition back to a more “normal” training schedule now. She’s had a peek behind the curtain, and has found it quite addictive. She doesn’t eat the same way she did before her prep, and certainly has a different outlook on what she knows is possible once she puts her mind to the task. This is a common occurrence for folks that compete regardless of the sport; their limitations have been pushed back. The mental state it takes to force self evolution starts to bleed over into everything else they do.

But this post isn’t about those that compete. This is about those that want a taste of that side, to see the other side without living there. Is this possible? How can one experience this altered state without competition?

Train with the comp team.

It’s as simple and as hard as that.

Look around your local gym and become an active member of the tribe. Find the person or people getting ready for a meet and jump in with them. Offer to be part of their training crew, and put yourself in the mix. Never miss a training session, go rep for rep, round for round with them, and reap the rewards. Find a running club that has members regularly competing. Link up with them, show up for every group training session, and put yourself through the same regimen they are using to prepare for their next race. You’ll note a change in your mental and physical state within a few weeks. Help the folks in your Brazilian JiuJitsu, Judo, or MMA comp team get ready by becoming part of the competition team training cadre. Show up for every session, do the strength & conditioning workouts, the technique sessions as well as the sparring sessions. Put in the time even if you’ll never walk out to the cage, ring or mat. You will dig deeper than you ever have before and you will evolve. Evolution or growth is never easy and is most often a product of will power. You will reap the rewards of this growth in other aspects of your life.

You don’t have to train with competition focused folks for your entire training journey. For a lot of folks, one 8 – 12 week prep period might be enough to permanently alter your mental and physical state for the better. So is it even necessary? Not really, but it sure can’t hurt. I’ve lost track of the number of fight camps, meet preps, and running clubs I’ve participated in to prepare myself or a teammate for competition. Having done that I know this much to be true, the confidence one feels after going through this process can’t be measured. Knowing you’ve been through some of the most challenging weeks of your life, and are still standing is a massive deposit in the hard to kill bank account. Toughness, resiliency, adaptability, grit, whatever word you use to describe that indomitable, unstoppable drive to survive, and win? You’ll have it by the boatload, and I’m not going to sugar coat it; it feels fucking good.