Saturday, 24 October 2009

'hard' or HARD

As I sit here recovering from an appendectomy, I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on training and what separates the training of the pros from the joes. I’d like to think that I train quite hard and I’m trying to find ways to keep myself fit and active during the time I need to recoup from having doctors cut things in my abdomen. If it is any conciliation my stomach does feel like I’ve done a million sit ups. Too bad the feeling doesn’t quite represent the end result of doing said amount of sit ups.

As you know I am a player with dreams of grandeur whilst I want to enjoy what I do. Undoubtedly throughout this blog I have talked about the importance of training and the dedication I put into it, but is what I’m doing good enough to make me any better?

A player in my situation is often faced with responsibilities that far exceed hockey. There’s putting food on the table, taking care of the bills (though my wife does that), not forgetting about work. When you combine this you see that your days and weeks follow a certain pattern. Your days are spent at work and your evenings are, sometimes painstakingly, spent at the gym, jogging or cycling.

As an ‘individual athlete’ the responsibility is discipline, first and foremost. The difference between the ‘individual’ and the ‘pro’ is that as a pro it is infinitely easier to keep up with your training as you spend your time in a team environment where everything is set for you. The coaches and trainers think through all the exercises for you, areas to work on and blows the whistle to add pace and push you at times when YOU don’t quite feel like it. The ‘individual’ has to think about the areas of the body that he uses, the exercises he should do and motivate himself when the tank is empty or the threshold is too big.

For the player working, the best support they can get, if they can afford it, is personal trainer. Truthfully, where I have the utmost respect for personal trainers, they cannot offer the same amount of motivation or specialist knowledge to the ‘individual’ athlete as the personal trainers working in the professional team environment.

When a player trains, despite the background, the aim is to train hard. For the aspiring player like me I can say that I train hard, but am I training HARD or ‘hard’. For the player like myself, when the opportunity might finally present itself, the reality is that the hard training of the pro’s is HARD and all you have done is trained ‘hard’. This is a good indication of the level you need to push yourself to excel and ‘make it’. Though the challenge is, there still isn’t anyone blowing the whistle or help you over the edge.

For those who make it, the first off season might provide an epiphany that this summer I need to train harder.

What I am getting at is that despite training hard and spending every free moment at the gym, the fact is that sometimes life throws a curveball at you and you need to prioritise. An ‘individual’ has to sacrifice things but with the work that he/she puts in will develop them as players as well as people.

I believe that dedication to a sport is a great way of learning about responsibilities, passion and priorities. It encourages ambition that will eventually filter into every aspect of your life. When you set yourself a goal that a mediocrity is not good enough in sports other things will follow the same pattern, whether it is career or social goals.

Hard work will always pay off and hard work is always rewarded.

I just wish I could resume my ‘hard’ work push myself to train HARD.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

No more half measures

What a way to dust of the cobwebs. I’ve officially started to train for the next season and here’s what I’ve done so far. I started my training with an 8 mile run on Saturday , followed by a gym work out on Sunday. What has been interesting is that I’ve started my training earlier than I did last year, but perfection takes time doesn’t it?

During the off-season, I took some time off from the rigours of the training and review and reflect on what I had achieved during the season and summed the positives and negatives from the past year. It is funny that I spend ten months training and playing and resting for about two months. But it is something that I enjoy, so it is not a major sacrifice or a burden to bear. What I find most beneficial going into the off ice and individual training for this season is that I am not starting from square one.

Sure my fitness levels dropped off during the two months I spent relaxing. I didn’t sit flat on my ass, but I wasn’t training as intensely as I was and to be honest I needed that break or otherwise the threshold for starting again would’ve been too great. But now where I’m at the stage where I’m having fun going into the gym and I know what I need to do. The thing is I don’t want to reach the same level as I was at last season, but I want to push myself above and beyond the level that I was at.

What about early goals for myself and the team? As opposed to last season where I droned on about the chance of making to the playoffs, I’m now looking forward to a season where we can compete and come to the rink week after week and have some fun. I think that is a good early goal to set.

The team has a newish look. We’ve lost a few of the core players we’ve come to depend on but I hope that we can find some new line match ups in the roster that will help us deliver some offensive firepower.

But this is it. There is no room for half measures and time for talking is done. Now it is all about rigorous training and discipline.