As a coach, I have come to realize that a number of my athletes rely on exercise to manage their mental health. I have asked the question…
If daily exercise is a requirement for your mental wellbeing then should we consider if extreme exercise is appropriate for your long-term health?
It’s worth noting that I’ve yet to have a top athlete answer my question with a “yes, we should!” While my pals haven’t answered this question, it’s something that I’ve addressed with choices in my own life.
High-profile athletes, and coaches, can feel the urge to fly-the-flag for extreme exercise. Because of the prestige given to “winning,” it takes courage to walk away from fame, winning or vanity => even when these things are unhealthy for our inner lives.
What calms my inner life and leaves me feeling satisfied?
- An outdoor workout with 10-20 minutes of elevated HR
- Time with my spouse
- Picking up litter
- Doing something that other people find too difficult
- Helping other people
- High-quality coffee or tea
My list reminds me that much of my spending is wasted.
In my life, the only thing that trumps exercise is sleep. I need to get my sleep AND I need to protect my sleep. I protect my sleep by:
- Waking up each morning
- No late naps, late nights, late coffees, late work sessions
- Removing people and situations that cause me to lose sleep
I’m fortunate with the ups and downs of my moods – I don’t have the extremes that follow some of my pals. My swings are moderated by a lifestyle that gives me frequent top-ups and helps me avoid spiraling downhill. I wrote about downhill triggers here,
It usually takes multiple injuries for an athlete to be open to considering their role in creating their life situation. More normal, is gratitude for a return to training. Be aware when you are in a rush to get back to the pattern, and mental habits, that hurt you.
It takes courage to change our approach.