In 2002, I joined a mastermind group that was organized and led by a well-known business and marketing expert. The group consisted of 20 business owners — three attorneys, a cosmetic dentist, two internet marketers, a painting contractor, and several other individuals. We met three times a year in Phoenix for two days each time.
At the meetings, each of the members of the group had a chance to stand up in front of the group to showcase the marketing we were doing and to bring up any issues we were concerned about in our businesses. The group leader and members provided phenomenal feedback. All of us benefited from the wide range of knowledge and skills that the members possessed.
One of the members in the group was Matt Furey (mattfurey.com), a former collegiate wrestling champion and gold-medal winner of the 1997 world title in kung fu. The competition for the title took place in Beijing, China.
When we met, Matt was the owner and operator of a fitness club in California.
When I asked Matt how he trained for the kung fu competition, he told me there was one secret that very few athletes knew about that he used to train for the competition. He said that in addition to all the other training he did, he ran “hill sprints” on a hill in Santa Cruz, California.
He said that initially he was unable to run up the hill without stopping to rest. He started out by jogging up the hill. After he built up his stamina, he started running. Eventually he was able to sprint to the top of the hill.
Matt told me that hill sprints are a superior way to build stamina and create “explosive speed.” He said that during the early 1900s, the great professional wrestler and strongman George Hackenschmidt, commonly known as “The Russian Lion,” used hill sprints to build up his own strength and speed.
When Matt told me about how he did hill sprints to get into shape, I thought about my own experiences in high school, when I was on the wrestling team. During my sophomore year, the closest I ever got to doing hill sprints was when my wrestling coach made everybody on the team run what he called “stair laps.”
There was a central location in the high school where there were stairs that we had to climb to get from the first floor to the second floor. We had to climb these stairs to get to a landing, turn right, and then climb more stairs to get to another landing, where we then turned right again and climbed the last set of stairs to get to the second floor.
Once we were on the second floor, we could turn and run 10 feet, and then run down the stairs on the other side of the hall. The stairs on the other side were set up the same way — we moved down some stairs to a landing, turned right, went down more stairs to another landing, and then turned right again and went down more stairs to the first floor.
We were required to run up the stairs to the second floor, circle around, and then run back down the second set of stairs to the first floor. After getting back to the first floor, we had to run around the handrail and repeat the process all over again, multiple times, until we were ready to drop.
Because everyone on the sophomore wrestling team was extremely competitive, none of us ever wanted to slow down or stop while our teammates were still running. I can remember several occasions when I thought my chest was going to explode from the pressure that was created from the fast and heavy breathing that was required to run the stair laps.
Needless to say, during my sophomore year, I only had one loss, which occurred early in the season. I got beat (on points) by a farm boy from a small rural high school. He was tall and lanky, and I underestimated his strength and speed. Halfway through the match, his right knee crashed into my head, which dazed me for a while. I hated losing to him.
I thought about Matt Furey and my experience in high school last week when I read that several team members of the New England Patriots attributed their Super Bowl victory to their training, which included hill sprints. New England Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett said, “We were running the hill last week and I was like, who runs the hill in week 23? Guys were tired, but guys got out there; they ran full speed up the hill. We’re just a team that works.”
Julian Edelman, a wide receiver for the New England Patriots, said, “We’ve got these stupid hills in Foxborough that we have to run, like literally, until we leave. We all b—- and complain about it. But hey, we do it. We put in the work. We put in the conditioning.” When asked about the hill sprints, Danny Amendola, another wide receiver, said, “It’s a beast, for sure.”
One of the primary reasons the New England Patriots were able to win the Super Bowl by a score of 34-28, after being behind by a score of 28-3, was because during their practices they used the one secret conditioning technique (hill sprints) that their competitors either didn’t know about, or knew about but failed to use.
Before an athlete can become a champion, he or she must learn and put into practice certain secrets that are unknown to the athlete’s competitors. Without knowledge and use of certain secrets, it’s almost impossible to become a champion. To be a champion in any endeavor, a person must know and practice the secrets that are necessary to achieve success in that endeavor.
There is one secret that the champions of the Catholic Church — the canonized saints — all knew and practiced. Do you know what that secret was?
The answer is that they all had a strong devotion to the mother of God and regularly prayed to her for guidance and assistance.
In his book, True Devotion to Mary, Saint Louis de Montfort wrote that although there are different paths that a person can take to get to Jesus, the quickest and surest path of attaining union with our Lord is through His mother.
It is the path that Jesus Christ opened up in coming to us and in which there is no obstruction to prevent us from reaching Him. It is quite true that we can attain divine union by other roads, but these involve many more crosses and exceptional setbacks and many difficulties that we cannot easily overcome. We would have to pass through spiritual darkness, engage in struggles for which we are not prepared, endure bitter agonies, scale precipitous mountains, tread upon painful thorns, and cross frightful deserts. But when we take the path of Mary, we walk smoothly and calmly.
What de Montfort revealed in his book is the best-kept secret in the Catholic Church. Most Catholics will never learn or put that secret into practice.
What are you going to do now that you know the secret to becoming a champion of the Catholic Church?