I continue to redefine myself within the framework of the athlete I once was…20 years of competitive sports has definitely had a lasting effect! I hope those of you that come from competitive athletics can identify with my struggle to find happiness, fulfillment and accomplishment in fitness. I have rediscovered and redefined the athlete inside of me. This is part 2 of a series of posts about this transition.
Typical rowing practice: .5 mile warm up run, stretching, 3 mile run, weights, then hit the water for pyramids, warm ups, start drills, 4 race pieces, cool down Total time: 3-4 hours
typical ultimate practice: 2 mile warm up, active stretch, throwing drills, movement/agility drills, positioning drills, sprints, scrimmage. Total time, 3-4 hours
I did those workouts day in and day out for years! My life revolved around my sport. The classes were in the morning so I could practice in the evening. Nothing too late on Friday so I could travel to the tournaments. Never stayed to talk to the teacher because I would miss the van to boathouse. If I wasn’t at practice, I was thinking about the next one.
I didn’t take long for fitness to take a lower priority in my life after I graduated and went into the real world. After work, I would go to the gym but feel like I was just wasting time because I “only” had an hour. I would “only” get a 30 minute run followed by a 30 minute weight circuit in before I had to go home. I started thinking “What’s the point?” when I noticed I was getting weaker and slower than I had been in college. The rational side of me knew why but my competitive side thought I should be able to maintain my fitness level. I couldn’t find the time or the motivation to go for 3-4 hours so I started giving up all together…no running, no weight training, nothing! Forget it!
My “rock bottom” wasn’t terrible. In my period of inactivity, I was still more active than most, playing a few pick up games here and there, running once a week, and walking the dog. I put on about 15 pounds and lost a lot of my muscle. The deterioration physically wasn’t really the problem though…the worst part was that I lacked the confidence I had when I was an athlete. I would stand in front of people and think they were judging me for not looking like I used to look. My self talk was full of insults and put downs.
It took 2 years but I reached my “I’ve had it!” moment. That moment when I put my foot down and decide to do something about my crappy self talk and lack of confidence. I knew there was something between doing nothing and going to 4 hour practices and I needed to be okay with that physically and mentally.
I needed to start being an athlete again. I needed a plan, a goal, and a feeling of success. I needed a new approach. Once I acknowledged that I was no longer going to be competing, I finally let myself change the definition of what an appropriate workout is. If I can dedicate 60 minutes/day to something physically active, I consider that a huge success. Some days it is 30 minutes but that is fine too. I pat myself on the back. The first thing I did was a half marathon training plan and race. The next plan was P90X and to get to the end of that. I have continued doing Beachbody programs and running races since.
I still fight the urge to think that a 30 minute run is what you do before you get to the hard part of your workout. My brain still tells me that if I am going to go workout, I need to make sure I have 2-3 hours to dedicate to the task. I acknowledge that I will likely be fighting that notion for the rest of my life. But now, if I put 30-60 minutes in to getting stronger or building my cardio, I’ve had a good workout. If I wake up sore in the morning, even better! At the end of the day, if I can carry myself with confidence and feel good from the inside out, I am an athlete.