by ALAN BISHOP
I’m now into my 4th decade as an athlete. Crazy to think it, but I have been actively “competing” in some form or another for the better part of all of my 43 years. At times I’ve competed at a world-class level and at others it’s been in those transformational moments when it’s just you against yourself (I love those moments).
Recently I’ve started to think of myself as a “Masters Athlete,” and that thinking has led to a ton of research on the subject. In my experience — as well as my research — I have come up with these 5 Laws for a Masters Athletes.
1) Age is just a number:
Whether its 35, 45, 55 or 95, our age is just that…a number. Don’t for a minute think that the number limits your ability to achieve. Just because you’re in the 45-50 age category, don’t limit yourself to that category. At times we get “comfortable” within predetermined spaces that others set for us. Yes, at times we need to be “grouped” together for ease of logistics, but that doesn’t mean that we have to mentally align within this group. The need to “act our age” went out the window when our parents took us to the “Fancy Restaurant” when we were 10.
I will never forget the day when at 25 years old I went into an orthopedic surgeon’s office for a consult. After the initial exam and small talk, the surgeon looked at me and said, “Well, Alan, now that you’re 25, you’ve reached the point where you’ve lost 25% of your body’s natural ability to heal itself.” I was floored and that comment stuck with me for years…buried in my subconscious.
I’ve had to deal with many injuries over the years because I played HARD.
I also played like I thought I would never break… but as we all know, eventually we will.
As a younger athlete I never really understood what that meant, because (like all younger athletes) I was “unbreakable” — or at least I thought I was. Now, I value LIFE and what it has to offer me. I know what it’s like to spend MONTHS trying to regain the strength of one or more of my body parts that have been broken along my road. So the lesson is to understand your body — it’s really all you have. Work on your goats, and build up the areas where you are weak. It will pay off in the long run in your ability to “bend but not break.”
3) Mentally we (Masters) have an edge:
The reason you have scar tissue all over your body is because you’ve experienced LIFE: your experiences, the struggles, the achievements and the learning that you have gained in your life’s journey. All of these have prepared you for this Moment. If it’s a competitive moment, then you have resources that you can call on. If it’s a teachable moment, you have wisdom to pass on. If it’s a training moment, then you have the mental strength to know how hard and how far you can and should push your body.
The point is that you have a mental edge if you choose to use it. The athlete who doesn’t use every tool in his/her arsenal is an athlete who hasn’t prepared well enough on that given day.
When we were younger, “LIFE” just happened. We never really planned stuff, and if we were lucky things fell into some sort of logical place and order.
As our journey continues, though, I find it more and more important to track and chart my progress. I want to know how I’m achieving and if today was better than yesterday. I want to maximize my time here on this earth and make EVERY SINGLE DAY matter. I figure, why the heck else am I here if not to enjoy my life and try to live it to the fullest? This is why I add the extra plate to the bar; why I call myself on my own “No Rep” when the wall ball doesn’t hit the target; and why I choose to eat a primarily Paleo-based diet. I want to take my life to the next level — whatever level that might be.
5) Life Matters:
I hope at this point that you have come to the same realization that I have about Sport. Sport to me is about living. I want to be “Strong to be Useful,” and that motto is taped to the door of my garage so I can see it every single time I train.
Being “Useful” means so many things to me now. It means much more than just another rep or a new PR. Now I understand better that to be useful is to be ABLE to enjoy my life to its fullest.
LIFE MATTERS. The effort that I put into my training, diet and active mobility will directly affect the quality of the life that I am afforded the luxury of living.
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