Athlete health always must come first.
This is especially true for amateur and age-group athletes, for whom sport is not about earning money, it’s about so much more.
For the amateur athlete, sport is about health first and performance dead last. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t seek to perform. You absolutely should aim to perform at the highest level that you can.
What it does mean is that sacrificing an athlete’s health in order to go after a performance makes no sense at all.
Someone once said that your health is the only thing you have that is worth having if you have nothing else.
Newsflash: Nobody, other than you, your close family and you coach will remember the 10-minutes you cut from your ironman time. In fact, even you might not remember it, given enough time.
Is it really worth sacrificing your health in order to achieve it?
What you will notice is when you're always sore getting out of bed, when you develop metabolic syndrome from all the sugar you've eaten in the belief that carbs make you go faster or whatever long term health condition shows up as a result of driving performance from a place of ill-health.
What if I told you that you can have that performance and be healthy at the same time?
What if I told you that athlete health underpins superior performance and, perhaps even better, longevity of performance?
Athlete health doesn’t come from a series of hacks or a daily handful of supplements or listening to binaural beats or whatever.
Real, long-lasting athlete health is the result of your small daily habits…
- Do you sleep properly? Do you sleep enough?
- Do you have a quality nutrition approach that you stick to consistently?
- Is your body composition where it should be?
- Have you developed ways to manage the stress of work, lifestyle and training?
- Do you have proper mobility around your joints?
- If you’re an endurance athlete, do you do enough strength work to be strong?
- If you’re a strength athlete, do you do enough cardio to look after your heart?
Few of these things are sexy or exciting, they’re pretty mundane in comparison to buying a new bike that isn’t an ounce over 6.5kg or the latest set of wheels that save 40 watts at 40km/h or an aero helmet or yet another bike-fit or… (the list is endless).
What most athletes fail to understand is that all of the things I listed above affect your recovery ability dramatically. And everybody bangs on about recovery, it seems, constantly.
Recovery is not lying on the sofa, eating chips and getting fat. Recovery is an active process of sleeping well, eating well, stretching, meditating, lifting and running.
If you’re not doing these things, you’re not recovering the best that you can.
I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve spoken to who have changed their nutrition to my approach and who recover faster. I can say the same about those who have sorted out their sleep. Or got stronger.
If you’re going to be an athlete, health comes first. If you do that, you’ll be a better athlete and a an athlete for the long term.