I’m not sure where it originated, but on our university track team we used to use the term “secret demon training”. Secret demon training referred to any running which was done in addition to what was done with the rest of the team. This additional training would always be done on the sly, as trying to get a leg-up on your team-mates was not cool, and it never looked good to seem like you were trying too hard to get the results you showed. It was pretty hard to actually pull off secret demon training in secret, as all of our runs started and finished at the Phys. Ed. Centre in the middle of a small campus in a small town, but that didn’t stop us from frequently suspecting others of having pulled it off. For example: “John is suddenly way more fit than the rest of us. I think he’s been doing some secret demon training!” or “I think Paula did an extended cool-down instead of running home after workout – total secret demon!”
I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of secret demon training. I picture someone leaving their house in darkness to “sneak in” extra miles or a track workout all alone with no one to offer support or praise. The only vindication comes after a race, when their stellar results belie the training they seem to have done. I have no problem with people doing extra work – it is inspiring to all of us. The trick, however, is to spot the secret demon training behind it, so you don’t feel badly about the results you’re getting for the work you’ve put in.
Luckily, I have a trained eye, and I know these secret demon trainers are out there – in running and in other areas of life. Here are some examples:
Your training buddy who shares your ten year old PB’s and with whom you’ve been doing every run for the past five years suddenly has a shiny new 10K PB by over a minute: secret demon training.
Your mom who has a gourmet, three-course, all food groups included dinner prepared for you when you drop by, and claims she’s just “tossed together whatever was in the fridge”: secret demon cooking.
Your acquaintance who you meet for drinks and shows up looking ridiculously well put together with accessorized hair, make-up and outfit but claims to have just “thrown something on and walked out the door”: secret demon primping.
Your friend with four kids, two cats and a dog has a spotless show-room ready house every time you go over, but always apologizes for the huge mess: secret demon all-night house cleaner.
So be awed, and be inspired by other people’s great achievements. But just remember – if their results seem too good to be true, there is probably some secret demon training at work.