Sports are fantastic. They shape who you are a person, help you build character, teach you how to work as a team, and pay for college in some instances (gracias, title IX). But there are some serious downsides to once being a competitive athlete.
- Your body is used to working out crazy hard. So in order to stay fit you have to keep working out hard. This means that “going on a walk” will never be a workout for you. For people who have never exercised, walk it up! But not for you former athlete, it can be a social activity but if you really think you are going to lose weight/maintain weight by just going for a stroll you are seriously deceived. I understand that it is hard to justify doing a sprint workout when the only time you sprint is if a child is running into a parking lot or you are an avid black Friday shopper.
- You are never going to be as fast or as good as you once were. It’s a harsh reality. But it’s just not going to happen. You need to purge your memory of your old PR’s or times. I ran a 6:02 mile one time (freshman year of high school+no hips+no body fat=fantasy world). There’s no chance I could do that now. I could maybe do a 6:57 mile if I had just slept for a week straight, there was no thinking/physical exertion required for at least a day afterwards, and a man was chasing after me with a machete.
- Unless you were a runner there are very few competitive outlets post-college. Sure there are adult leagues for some sports but when you start yelling at your teammates, getting in fights, taking out people (I got LAID OUT by a guy in over 30 coed soccer a few weeks ago), cussing out refs, and throwing bats around; people are going to seriously start questioning your life choices. Runners have the best gig because there are about a million races every weekend. I run some of these races but I’m not truly competitive in these. I’m only competing against myself and people who don’t look athletic at all. I was never trained in distance running, I was punished by distance running. There’s no way I’ll ever win a race or even my age group (unless it’s a super small race in an area where no one cares about physical fitness). But you better believe that I will beat you if you are wearing anything I deem unacceptable active wear. i.e. Denim, khaki shorts, polo shirts.
- Injuries post-college don’t play. If you do happen to find an adult league for the sport you once played you have the distinct possibility of a major injury every time you play. You know who doesn’t have time for an ACL tear? People that have to carry small humans. There’s no trainers forcing you to rehab, there’s no timeline for getting back on the field, it’s just rehabbing so you can play tag effectively with your kids.
- Rolling over in bed when you are 9 months pregnant will make you embarrassed that you were ever an athlete. It takes a ridiculous amount of effort. There’s no way such a simple task should require that much grunting, heaving breathing, and the use of all of your extremities.
- Your metabolism dies at 30. This is the worst part. There was once a time you could eat whatever you wanted; warm bread, warm cookies, or a whole box of cheez-its with little to no repercussions. Now if you eat these things you will gain 2 pounds overnight. You will have to make hard life decisions between fitting in skinny jeans and eating unlimited bread sticks at the Olive Garden. Sorry friend.
- The reasons you keep working out will change drastically. No longer are you trying to earn a starting spot, you are just trying to wear a two-piece without someone calling the police on you. Or just fitting in your jeans post-baby. You may work out for sanity, to relieve stress, or just to have no one touching you for an hour.
- You’ll find yourself being competitive with completely inconsequential things. Think board games, cards, etc. I didn’t talk to my husband for an hour once because of a game of Monopoly deal. Not my best moment.
If you are currently an athlete, live it up! You’ll never be this fit again. I’ll tell you right now, YOU ARE NOT FAT AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THAT IS YET.
For the rest of us, don’t re-watch your game film and embrace the new normal because no one is ever telling you to “get on the line” again.