A Day With Ray (Lewis)

Ray Lewis is probably one of the most iconic figures in football and among the best linebackers of all time. He is the backbone of the Baltimore Ravens and a Chief Motivating Officer to many. :)

Just this past week, I was presented with an opportunity to participate in a day of fitness and filming with Ray and other incredible athletes and staff. It was a fun and memorable experience to say the least.

To ride side by side with the King of Passion and Hard Work was one of the most grueling and enjoyable hours of fitness I have ever experienced. To my left was Ray Lewis, to my right was Greg  Harrell — all I could see in my peripheral vision were two giants crushing the cadence and intensity on their bikes. I am not one to fall behind, so I pushed as hard as my body would follow. Again and again, it is confirmed, that top performance exceeds our body, it’s in our mind.

With the exception of the Airdyne Bike (which you all know I love) I haven’t trained on a spin or cycle bike in a long time (something I will change immediately). My game has been strength and power plus the conditioning I get from my beloved sprint work (hills, stairs or field sprints) or endurance runs. I knew going into this day that riding was going to be a completely different beast than running but it didn’t really concern me because I knew if all else failed, I would fall back on my mental game.

This also brings me back to what I highlighted in the Will Smith post - “If you always stay ready, you never have to get ready”now when someone asks me why I wake up at 4:30am to train or do two-a-days.. It’s so that I can jump on opportunities to hang with the best of the best when it’s presented. I will never slack because I will never allow a missed opportunity because I am not prepared for it… afterall, I like being “lucky” :) (when preparation meets opportunity)

As I’ve said before, half of our ability is about being comfortable being uncomfortable. So many great lines were dropped yesterday during the Spinerval taping as well as throughout the day. Among a few, Ray said “nobody said work was easy” and “opportunity knocks every second of our life, its what u do with it!”

I recently read an article titled “Inside An Athlete’s Mind” by Andrea Poe. The following are a handful of great quotes that I jive with from high level athletes of various sports. Though the sport is different from athlete to athlete, the common denominator is their mental wiring. I hope you take something from this as you strive towards your own challenging and often “painful” training sessions or practices:

“When I get on that bike, I know I’m going to suffer. The question is how much I’m going to let it get to me and what I’m going to do to mitigate it” — Sam Schultz, 25, a member of the Subaru Trek Mountain Bike Team 

(this seriously was a thought that ran through my head yesterday :) )

The article stated that “Like most pro athletes, Schultz has trained his body and mind to resist pain and sustain the kind of focus that enables him to compete at the highest level. The key to honing that focus is consistent, hard-core, year-round training”

(and in hearing Ray Lewis talk about his year-round practice, this is exactly what he lives.)

Megan Melgaard, a professional Extreme Athlete stated, “I have been doing this long enough to know that I’m capable of making my body do things it doesn’t think it can do”

(Another thing I am becoming confident in, knowing I am capable if I can push through the pain.)

Mid way through the cycling I had to get off my bike for 30 seconds of squat jumps followed by a hold for 30 seconds in a low squat (hands on head) — that was tough enough. Then I was told I had two more consecutive rounds. My legs were cramping SO badly it was a terrible feeling — but I said to myself “Alli, you’re legs are going to crumble beneath you before you give up on this squat mentally” — I knew the pain was temporary and if I just focused on the very second at hand and what I had to accomplish — I would get through it. Afterall, I had Ray Lewis behind me and I knew “giving in” was as acceptable in his presence as being a Pittsburgh Steelers fan  ;)  (which I am not a Steelers fan by the way!)

The article I read continued to say:

“If pro athletes sound like they operate a bit differently than the rest of us, that’s because they do. A slew of recent studies point to a marked difference in their brains. It turns out that while their physical prowess may start in their genes, the change in their brains derives from their practice.

In one recent study, researchers from the Institute of Psychology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences found that the number of years an athlete competed predicted how thick the outermost layers of the brain would be in sections that link learning and movement.

Another study done at Sapienza University in Rome demonstrated how pro athletes emit stronger alpha waves than other people, which means they devote less brain activity to doing tasks and therefore act more instinctively.

These studies point to the fact that it takes practice — lots and lots of practice — to develop the athlete’s brain.

Practice may be the most important aspect of training, but it also can be lonely and tedious…Pushing oneself is especially challenging for athletes involved in individual sports, where there are no colleagues to practice with or turn to for motivation. It all has to come from within.”

Bobby Murphy, a skiing professional, states “my most intense days are during practice, because that’s where the groundwork is laid,” Murphy said. “I keep internal pressure stoked. I tell myself that I want to have the utmost confidence when the world’s eyes are watching me.”

Finally, the article says:

“During an event, as the pain increases, as an athlete’s body starts to flag, how does she push on? “I know what incredible power my body has, so I focus on that. I pray the entire event, saying things like, “Lord, give me the strength to remain upright. Keep me going. Don‘t let pain get in my way,” Melgaard said. “I simply focus on getting through.”

Ultimately, what  motivates professional athletes is the sense of accomplishment and freedom that can be attained only when they are performing at the highest level.

Back to yesterday, I got all of this pro athlete intensity and more from Ray Lewis (and the others). It was an incredible experience to absorb his energy and drive. At times, he would speak to the group and you could feel what it might be like to be in the football huddle with him. I’m so glad I had a chance to witness this kind of greatness first hand and up close. I am also grateful for all the amazing athletes, energy and wonderful people who contributed to this day. A day and an experience that will be forever savored.


Finally, the video we filmed yesterday was with Ray Lewis and Coach Troy Jacobson of Spinervals. To say the least, the energy in the room was incredible. Video’s will be released in September.

22 Comments on "A Day With Ray (Lewis)"

  1. Paul says:

    Is that Gheorge Muresan I see in the back row?!

  2. julia L says:

    awesome girl!! so cool for you to be a part of that!! can’t wait to see more!

  3. Dave says:

    Awesome article Alli, sounds like an incredible day. Very Cool!

  4. Lisa says:

    Thanks Alli, Great motivation and quotes as well. I am certainly sharing this article with all of my ‘peeps’ who constantly ask me,… Lisa… what are you “ON” that drives you so? LOL…. I answer simply…I just want to be the best I can be! It’s pushing yourself to that next ‘so called limit’…cuz we all know..there are no limits… at least not as long as I’m grunting and pushing….LOL
    On my way out the door to workout…I know it will be an extra ‘good one’. I love that idea of adding those 30 seconds of squat jumps and squat hold in the middle of a spin session. You know what’s on my agenda today! My ‘class’ may not be so happy tho…. hahahaha!
    Thanks Alli GIRL!

    • allimckee says:

      Hey Lisa! It’s all about “how bad you want it!” ;) You have the “it” factor.. keep running with it and train the brain – the body is a byproduct! :)

  5. Jack Bazzell says:

    Great article, I can apply this to my business life as well. The need to practice and drive on!

    • allimckee says:

      Hey Jack, thanks for reading and posting :) So glad you found application in situations outside of sport! One thing I love about training high level executives is that I find their work ethic and mind set is very similar to a high level athlete.. it shows on the gym floor…after all, they didn’t achieve a high position and level of responsibility without a similar drive and mental practice as the athlete ;)

  6. Nia Shanks says:



    You’re a friggin’ badass. ; )

  7. Ziz says:

    I loved the article – it got me all fired up.
    Greg and I were college teammates back in the day. You did a great job of capturing what it takes to be an athlete – MINDSET – is crucial. I just love the tenacity you have in not giving up even though your body was sending you another message.

    Rock on Superstar!


    • allimckee says:

      Hey Ziz! Thanks for reading this post and sending your thoughts! I bet Greg was AWESOME to know and play with in college! Those guys definitely provided me with an extra dose of tenacity :) I look forward to keeping in touch!

  8. Debbi says:

    Thanks, Alli girl!!! You are amazing and I always enjoy reading your blogs. You are always looking to move ahead and you strive to be the best version of YOU!! You never settle for less and you are always reinventing YOU!!! The best part is you don’t keep it to yourself you share. Thank you for that. You are an encourager and a giver. I appreciate that. I love the mind body connection you shared and the quotes.. I wrote a few of them down to share with my clients and students. . They are so true and so powerful. I teach intervals in spin ALL the time. But I am thinking of adding in a few squat jumps and holds now ;)
    Be blessed Alli, God has big plans for you!!!

    • allimckee says:

      We must be badass!! ;) I like to think.. ultra feminine when we want to be.. but able to keep up with the baddest studs in the gym, field or court at any time!

  9. Shannon says:

    Alli! Love this post – love your drive! The athlete brain study from Sapienza Uni is most intriguing… thanks for mentioning this! Also, I love that you quote Megan Melgaard, my sister’s roommate from college (UF)! Cheers to college roommates [HH12]!!

    • allimckee says:

      Shannon! Glad to have you here :) That’s awesome your sis was roommates with Megan Melgaard – talk about just a few degrees of separation :) .. and yes, Cheers to HH12! xoxo

  10. Ed Myslinski says:

    I’m very proud of you Princess! As I ride by your house on my bike, turn on Falls Rd. and start up that hill that I can barely crest, I’ll think of your day with Ray and how stopping was not an option!
    Love ya!

    Mr. Ed

    • allimckee says:

      Hi! Thanks so much, Mr. Ed! It really was the most awesome day / experience! The video is coming out in just weeks… yes, often I think about pushing through the discomfort of training. “Discomfort” isn’t really an indicator of what’s left in our tank, it’s just something that signals us to want to stop in order to avoid it.. I love to push past that moment to prove to myself that I’m not exhausted and I DO have more to give… it’s just getting past that first threshold and it’s a victorious feeling every time :)

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