It was the first night of Racquetball Team practice; I had slacked off all summer, for the first time ever. For as long I can remember, I have been an athlete, and I have lived that ethos. I work out, I eat right, and I enjoy the fit lifestyle. Since I began coaching the racquetball team, the months encompassing the school year take my focus and put it squarely on the team. I manage to juggle coaching the team two nights a week, but also have a wife, a day job, and a burgeoning speaking career to manage. Yeah, I am busy. I look forward to summers, partly for the break in the team’s schedule, and partly because I get to focus more of my attention on me instead of a team of 15. I need that three months to recharge the batteries for the next season, and get my own fitness level back up.
I did my usual start to the summer, after about a week off of my hectic schedule, I was in the gym at 6:30AM a couple of days a week. I was hitting my summer stride, looking forward to being very fit once again. The kind of fit where I can hike a 12,633 ft mountain with my wife, do a trail run, or just about anything else I want without thinking twice about it. I love this level of fitness, and even enjoy the process of getting there. And then it happened…POP!, it felt like I got shot in the back of the leg. I tore my hamstring; I heard it, even though I had headphones on. I knew right away it was bad. Everything went black for a moment, I felt nauseous almost immediately. I couldn’t really move in general for what seemed like five minutes. Finally I was able to gather my things and limp out of the gym. I called my wife and told her I was coming home. I spent the day on an ice pack, off and on, 20 minutes each hour. Ibuprofen every four hours, no heat, no stretching, no unnecessary movement. I know what to do, I have had enough injuries over the years to know how to handle it.
In a mere 24 hours, a huge change was noticeable, but my summer workout plans had now switched over to rehab instead of gain. Funny how when you totally prioritize something, good things happen. I was already on the mend. This sort of thing happens, in life and especially in sports. A minor setback, not the end of the world. But what I did next was:
I stopped leading by example
If this had happened to any of my players, I would have handled it differently. I would have shown them how to adjust their workouts to stay in shape and stay on task. As the Head Coach and leader of the team, I motivate, I encourage, I shed light. Maybe it is easier to do this for others than it is to do for yourself, but that’s not an excuse. In this case, I indulged; I was lazy for the rest of the summer, and last night I paid the price for that. It was a small price, don’t get me wrong. I lost a game to our number 1 Women’s player. She is damn good, a world class player by all counts. She spent the summer on a bike, looked fit when I saw her, and I knew I was in trouble. She does beat me on occasion. Despite the fact that the game score was close, we only played one game and I was cooked. If we had played a full match, she would have smashed me in the next game.
Lately I have been catching myself saying out loud that “I am almost 50” far too often. I am 49 and a half, and that is not too different from 45, and I was definitely fit then. It goes up and down, depending on my commitment to the gym, and that is the whole point. I have played racquetball my whole adult life, it is the commitment to the extra work that makes or breaks me on the court. My swing is as good as it has ever been, I just need my body and my stamina to facilitate the strokes. If you think this is my ego talking, in many ways you are right. But I am using my own ego to my advantage; it is not that I should not have lost to her. She beat me, and that is that. I didn’t deserve to win, because I haven’t done the work. And my ego doesn’t like losing, but my spirit absolutely hates the idea of me not doing what is necessary and within my control to get better results. I slacked, and she made me pay.
Prioritizing my requirements for success has to be a continuing process for me; I can’t lead from behind. I set the tone, and I show people how it is done. I pride myself on that. Its what successful people do; they maximize themselves so they can then give freely to others.
So, last night’s kick in the ass was a step forward for me. It is how it should be treated and viewed. I am not exempt from any of the things that everyone else deals with, it is how I deal with it that matters. Average people get average results, and an average person would gloss over this and move on. I am not aiming for average, and I can’t lead by setting an average example. So, I will start doing the work; despite my job and my travel schedule and everything else that I and others have to work around. It is how life is. There is work that needs done, and there is no other way than to just do it.
PS…get ready girl, I will avenge that loss very soon :-)