independent

Sunday 21 September 2014

Cliches, pros, amateurs and lazy people like me

Published 25/02/2014 | 05:38

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While the likes of Usain Bolt may make a good living from running, for the majority of athletes it's a lonely and tough lifestyle.

THE WORLD of sport is littered with cliches, you know the kind of stuff, 'it's all about the team, it's all about the performance'; the kind of stuff you just get so sick of hearing especially with a 24-hour sports news channel that seems to go searching for these cliches as often as possible.

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Elite sports people should be entitled to use the odd cliche because they are competing at the highest level, there's a lot at stake, they may well be superstitious or even just keen to deflect attention from themselves, and so if Luis Suarez is asked is he delighted with his hat-trick, for example, he's entitled to say:

'Well, for me it's about the team, and the performance and as long as we get the three points I don't mind who does the scoring.'

However, what about when you read in your local paper the captain of a Junior hurling team saying:

'Who ever wants it more on the day will win it' or 'we're only taking it one game at a time.'

It might well be true, but when every team captain says it, it makes the words meaningless and with no disrespect to JNunior hurling, the players are hardly elite, so what gives them the right to spout out cliches over and over again? You can say, well, they don't want to be seen to be talking themselves up, or giving their opponents fuel for the fire, but some of our local sports people are watching too much television.

Wouldn't it be great if a sports person of any kind came out some time and just let loose:

'I'm delighted I scored a hat-trick, I think I'm the best payer in the world, and my team are lucky to have me.'

'Ah we should be hammering that crowd, they're no good at all' or 'I think we are going to get absolutely hammered this weekend, the manager is crap, the team is crap and the other crowd are very good, so we are damned.'

Yes, they'd be the laughing stock of the place, but by God wouldn't it be refreshing to read at least?

Anyway, they say sport is 90% mental 10% physical and to be an elite sports person it must take the toughest mental strength imaginable to continually put your body through its paces or even more so, to have put your body through a strict regime in the years building up to becoming elite.

How many of us would place ourselves in the unfit category at the moment, maybe even the fat and haven't had any exercise in four or five years category, how many of us are having a mental battle with ourselves right now about getting motivated and maybe getting fit and healthy, whatever suits the particular individual?

At 6 ft. 1" tall and 26-years-old my B.M.I. or body max index is around 13 and a half stone, yet I haven't been that weight since I was 18 and playing Gaelic football three times a week. Last Thursday I decided to go for a run and try to shift a few pounds, the ultimate aim to get to 15 stone down from 17 before the summer comes; maybe I might even find a bikini to slip into.

The point of all this talk, cliches, mental toughness and being unfit is that the mental battle I went through whilst running two km. was absolutely colossal.

The first 100m were fine, this was good, I felt like Usain Bolt, here was the start of a whole new lifestyle, I might even drink six raw eggs when I get home, for protein, or whatever it is eggs give you, but six raw eggs, definitely, I'm going to be a machine by April.

By 500m though I'm at the start of a battle that is just the most horrible thing to have in your head when you are trying to run. Being minus a set of headphones to pump some music into my ears wasn't helping, but it was good to take stock of the things that were going through my head.

Firstly, the breathing starts to get a little heavy, not panting, but certainly pressure is building. Then you can feel the sweat, the pull on your legs and all the little bits and pieces that go with running.

Running too is probably an exaggeration, this was jogging, barely!

So, the things that go through your head, they come fast and they come plenty, jumping from one thought to the next, your mind is racing, if only your feet could move at the same speed you'd be flying.

First thought at about the one km. mark is, 'go on take a rest, you're only starting back into this, don't go too mad', and then the other voice in your head says, 'ah Jaysus you can't stop now, sure you've only done one km., that's nothing, keep going ya lazy git'.

You turn around at the one km. mark and the mental battle continues:

'God I'm so unfit, I shouldn't be under this much pressure, am I running correctly? What if I'm doing damage to my internal organs by running this way? Ah God, Usain Bolt can run 100m in nine seconds and you can't even run a mile'.

All the while your subconscious is making your feet move, pulling you along, slowly but surely.

Eventually you get back to base and the feeling is good for a while, you're sweating after your workout, you've done well. Then you look at the time you've clocked up and you feel like you'd have been better off sitting at home and eating a packet of biscuits. You question was there a point to going running at all, as it's a seriously tough battle.

So here's the thing, should we give our elite sports stars a break? Should we appreciate them more for the efforts they have put in? What kind of mental battles must they go through every day if this is my mental battle after one two km. run in twelve months?

Then of course can we come back to the cliches? You can be sure I'd take a few plaudits if I had been interviewed after my run on Thursday, so why can't our elite sports stars?

Why is it only the rare and often the individual sports people who admit they've worked hard and deserve to be where they are?

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