I played soccer and basketball in college. Now, I’m an assistant basketball coach in my early thirties and I’m a stronger athlete than I ever was. Hands down, I can run faster and farther. I also have more energy and stamina than I did in my teenage years. I don’t practice basketball like I used to and if I were to have a one-on-one match between myself today and myself at the peak of my college career, myself today would win. By a lot.
So, how is that possible? Simple, I take much better care of my body today than I did when I was a teenager or college student. And I’ve pushed my comfort zone so many times that I’ve expanded it.
In the next five years, I want to climb an 8,000 meter peak, complete a 200 mile ultra race and post a few epic FKTs. Bottom line, I want to fully reach and harness my athletic potential. There’s a lot of advice on how to become a better and stronger athlete. For me, I focus on four areas:
- Sleep: Our bodies and minds need it. My ideal is 8 hours of sleep per night for maximum recovery. It’s amazing the amount of healing that goes on at night. And, I love dreaming.
- Mindfulness and Stretching: Yoga is a great place to combine these two aspects. I began to practice yoga three years ago. Within a month, I saw an improvement in my core strength and flexibility. I also found the deep breathing to be very helpful at high altitude.
- Food: It’s our fuel, plain and simple. Read food labels. Be aware of what you’re consuming and what you’re not.
- Pushing Comfort Zones: Make yourself uncomfortable. Going to lead a 5.8 route on rock? Top rope and practice on a 5.10. If you’re comfortable in your workout routine, ask yourself: What exercise or sequence am I avoiding?
Over the next few posts, I’ll break down each of the four areas in more detail. I believe in being a holistic athlete. Because an athlete is not just composed of physical strength, but mental, emotional and spiritual resiliency too. And when those four areas of health are tended to and cared for, that’s where the stronger athlete emerges. Remember, whether you think you can or can’t, you’re probably right. So, expand your cans.