28 and feeling great….or 28 and feeling like I should hit up the early bird special at Denny’s?
For anyone older than me reading this, you are probably thinking – you are treading on thin ice kiddo, you are still in your 20’s, wait until you are 40, wait until you have kids, you have no idea what you’re in for. For anyone younger, you might struggle to relate to this post as your supple young Lauren Fisher esq body knows no physical limits.
Each day when I peel myself up at the crack of dawn and manually lift my sore legs and aching hips out of bed for yet another gym sesh, I feel 80 years old. As a lifelong athlete (as I like to refer to myself) , this has become my reality…but it wasn’t always this way.
I started Crossfit almost a year ago (shit, a year already….why am I still so terrible) and I can say confidently that it has changed my life for the better. I have gained strength, speed, confidence, happiness and most importantly life altering friendships. That being said, I have also gained hands that look like I am a construction worker, quads that feel entrapped by pants and a body that feels like it’s been hit by a bus every. damn. day.
“Crossfit is keeping us in business” – says every massage therapist, chiropractor and physiotherapist ever.
The idea of Crossfit is constantly varied functional movement. So why is it that I can no longer function well enough to play other sports? I burn through my annual health benefits in less than two months and I spend my days feeling like a geriatric worthy of a hip replacement?
Is it weird that I wish for one of those bathtubs with a tiny hinging door found only in retirement homes???
The reality is, with any sport or physical activity, once the pendulum swings from passion to obsession, shit starts to go south. Most athletes who have trained at a high level have suffered the repercussions that come with an aging body and compounding sports injuries. I train FOR Crossfit, the ‘sport’ of Crossfit…I don’t use Crossfit as a training methodology for the other sports I play. That is the difference. Once you make that switch from using Crossfit as a tool for ‘cross training’ to ‘Crossfit as a sport’, your body will take a noticeable hit!
The thing with Crossfit is that you get hooked and no longer is the standard one hour class good enough. Your desire to get better increases and the need to train more intensely becomes like a thirst you can’t quench. Olympic lifting, gymnastics, metabolic conditioning, strength building, mobility…it’s a never ending list of specialties. Soon you are training like a damn professional athlete, hitting up two-a-days but the problem is…..you are NOT a professional athlete. You work a full time job, you have life commitments, you don’t get enough sleep, your job is stressful, your nutrition is probably not as good as it could be, you are not sponsored, you do not have high caliber recovery technology and you are NOT on zee roids.
So, with all that being said, what does this mean? Are we resigned to a life of pain, soreness, and pretending our muscle stiffness is actually swagger? (All this time you thought I had swagger, HA). It’s a decision you have to make; is training passionately more important to you than physical longevity? For me…the answer is probably yes, because training, competition, and camaraderie are the most fulfilling aspects of my life and without them I wouldn’t be the happiest version of myself – even if I do feel 80!
A few tips to keep your body healthy –
- Mobilize, mobilize, mobilize
- Invest in yourself – massage, acupuncture, physio….treat yourself to it, make yourself a priority
- Take REST days…do it, they are among the most important aspects of recovery (Alana)
- If you are injured – STOP doing what hurts you. Don’t be a hero…modify workouts until you are healthy.
- Eat a proper diet – junk food will make you feel like junk
- Supplement – BCAA’s, Magnesium, Fish Oil, Calcium, Creatine
- If you are feeling run down, take a break, take a week, you need it!
- Stop sitting all day…this is hard if you have an office job, but try to move when you can
- Drink enough water – seems dumb, but soooo important
- Eat more protein
- SLEEP (Minimum 8 hours…I know, yea right)
That is it folks, no earth shattering revelations today. You just have to decide what is important to you, and do your best to take care of that body so you can continue to live a long, but sore (if you choose), life.
Watch this if you have time, it’s a pretty great perspective from an aging athlete. Steve Nash talks about what it’s like to be a pro athlete at age 40 and when you are mentally on point but physically just can’t keep up. Even if you are not a basketball fan…you gotta love ol’ Steve.