I recently spent some time with a client chatting over how their training looked in the past and how they felt about the relationship they had with training. It struck me that what the athlete was describing sounded very familiar to that of an unhealthy relationship with food. Abstinence and binging. Does this sound familiar?
What the athlete described to me was a love hate relationship with their sport. Something we are all probably quite well aware of and have experienced at some point ourselves. Periods of elation, pushing as hard as you can day in and day out when we feel good. These purges would be followed by enforced periods of rest, usually because of the fatigue experienced while adapting to the periods where we've pushed ourselves to the limit. This is too often spoken about as something normal, that we all experience, yet if we change the context to food, the opposite would be true. Eating disorders or disordered eating may be mentioned and we certainly would not wear it as a badge of honour.
As a sports scientist and coach, I feel this is equally unhealthy and should be challenged and questioned. We would certainly not be getting the best out of ourselves, and the time, effort and money we invest into our sports would surely be wasted.
So how can we combat this phenomena? A few things come to mind in the first instance. We can look at an athletes goals, their lifestyle and time they have available to train and rest and also, we can look at their mental state as a possible issue in this. Every athlete I work with has a different structure, set of goals and personal circumstance than every other, so we could go on all day about the specifics of how to overcome this issue.
Personally, I think it is a very important issue to raise, to allow you as athletes to think about your own training and reflect on where you maybe at the moment, have you been in the place before or are you able to structure your sport in a healthy way? What did you find that helped you come through this if you have had this unhealthy relationship in the past and maybe why do you feel it happened?
Head over to our Instagram or Facebook page to start a dialogue on this post. Certainly something to be aware of and spend some time reflecting on your training.
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