At this morning's workout we played human fetch. The last time we did this, I busted my ankle and the other guy ended up throwing-up multiple times. This one consisted of myself, Alex, Kirk and Dave.
The workout goes like this: One person stands at one end of the gym with a bucket of tennis balls next to them. The first round of tennis balls are thrown about 10-15 feet out, just out of your reach and you have to grab them before the first bounce. It's a lot of quick, explosive sprinting and basically feeling like a dog. Once you're nice and winded, you have to get ten without missing before you're done.
The next round is about 30-40 feet and you have to catch it after the first bounce. This was brutal. The positive aspect is that you're so focused on pushing yourself just far enough to get the next ball that you don't think about how you're dying from all the sprinting.
The exercise was brutal, pushing each person just beyond what they thought they could do. The cooler part was watching how the group of guys treated each other during this. This group of guys is pretty brutal in terms of mockery and sarcasm. Nothing is really sacred: dead mothers, sexual preferences, illegitimate children, family heritage, race, religion... You name it, we will make fun of it. While the guy was chasing balls, you could tell when the guy had hit a wall, and all the guys responded by encouraging the ball-chaser along in a positive, real way. It's something Kirk (the owner) models well for all of us, and it makes all the difference in the world. When you're just at the edge and your brain and body are telling you to stop, encouraging words can make all of the difference to get that extra 10%.
The same probably goes with encouraging words that we offer to people as they're being pushed to the edge by life. That little extra effort to send a note, txt message, phone call or in person can make the difference between quitting or continuing.