A good question to ask yourself is “What am I training for?”. For those who are training to lose weight or bulk up a skinny frame, the answer can be pretty simple and straightforward and the question might seem petty.
But once you achieve those basic goals and get to the next level, the question becomes of paramount importance.
As I’ve written before on this blog, I’ve been training and practicing sport in some shape or form throughout my whole life, however in the past few years I’ve really taken things seriously with my goal for rapid improvement in padel.
In 2019, I had the chance to speak with some retired elite athletes who told me about the ways in which their years of training and playing their chosen sport had negatively affected their bodies over time, to the extent that some have difficulties performing everyday activities.
This came as a bit of a shock to me and has caused me to think about my goals and motivations for doing sport. Many of us have seen photos or footage of sports heroes from our childhoods who look nothing like they did in their peak years (Tyson, Ronaldo, Maradona etc) and some of them have well documented mental health issues (e.g. Gascoigne) but I hadn’t really realized that many athletes are dogged with pain from injuries sustained in their playing years for the rest of their lives.
Further research showed me that actually a good percentage of top junior players in many sports never make it to the pro level precisely because they sustain career-stopping injuries in their late teens or early twenties, periods in which they typically have to sustain lots of training strain on their fast-developing bodies.
This has led me to conclude that my priorities should be in keeping my body healthy, strong and flexible. This means stopping if I have any injury, and focusing on rehab, but most importantly don’t stress the body too much by doing too much of a particular sport or exercise.
I will therefore be focusing more on building muscle, flexibility and every day movements, while playing a more diverse set of sports going forward.
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