Thursday, October 23, 2014

Conditioning the Everyday Athlete

Oh how the month flies right by! And how little physical activity I've incorporated! :(

The Pan-Am/Parapan Am Games are on their way to Toronto for 2015. I am excited to watch the athletes who will be running, cycling, riding or otherwise. I am particularly looking forward to going to the Caledon Equestrian Park to check out the dressage and jumpers. But that said these guys and gals have been training to get to the point where they are very proficient at their sport. You might remember the epic fall I had late May where I slid off Ariel (at a canter) in the middle of a corn field. I was pretty sore for a few days and the pain in my neck/upper back still persists. But, I'm sure the fall could have been much worse.

Upon seeing the sports medicine doctor about the fall and some of my other aches and pains, she mentions that the everyday athlete rarely cross-trains--they generally just do what they like doing and then never get outside of that. First, I was way too flattered that she just referred to me as an "athlete". That's right, lil' ol' me, an athlete!! But getting back to the point, most "everyday athletes" just do what they love doing and only work on perfecting that, with what little time they have. And realistically, why would they do more? But, as athletes become more serious about their sport, they need to work on pushing themselves past what is expected of them so that when they are required to perform, they already have trained past points of what is being required. For example, the riders who compete at Trillium level at our stable are required to be able to bareback an ensure course (I'm not too sure what jump height) before they can get into the show ring. Frankly, that makes sense because if you can accomplish something more difficult than what is required, the required will become less (relatively speaking) difficult. Equine Canada also has a "long-term athlete development" plan for the various equine disciplines that outlines the need for the rider to not only be proficient at the equine sport, they need to be fit in other areas too.

In addition to the concept of conditioning and training, I always remember being told that getting injured (falling or otherwise) is just part of any activity that you'll do. And, the best way to reduce the impact of an injury is to increase your overall fitness. When I was dragon boating much more intensely (okay, it was never THAT intense but man was I fit those summers!). Things like flexibility, strength and endurance help the athlete manage the fall or twist (or otherwise) from becoming really bad.

Take my epic fall, as an example: I have increased flexibility and strength due to my intense yoga training during my university years (and occasional bouts now-a-days); my endurance and power comes from my past training while dragon boating (and steering). Everything is woven together where all activities support others in some way. Even the things I learn from physical activity are translated over to my desk jockey life.

As a way to motivate my excuse-finding-lazy-food-obsessed brain from just continuing to be itself, and instead, strive for improving myself, I post this image from Nike.

Take the plunge into fitness.

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