And there you have it. Your collegiate athletic career is over. Your identity is no longer synonymous with your sport. New coworkers, roommates and passersby alike ask you what it must have been like to play collegiate ball. And while we all had diverse and unique experiences as athletes in college, what we all have in common is a structured youth.
But now you don’t have that. There is no game schedule. No practice after class. No mandatory lifting. No coach telling you where to be and when to be there. No trainer telling you when and how to rest up. That is all in the past now. All of a sudden, your relationship with personal fitness is a blank slate.
The craziest part is that it’s never occurred to you – this newfound freedom – the confusion and indirection that accompanies freedom. Worst yet, you were naive enough to think that you could anticipate any situation. After all, that’s what visualizing the game was all about. How could you have not anticipated this day would come?
So what are you going to do about it? Here you are at the gym, and suddenly it’s a place of loneliness. No one there to guide your lift, to cheer you on, to tell you when to take it easy. Nobody is there to push you to your limit – physically and mentally.
But think about everything you’ve learned along the way. Opportunity presents itself in unique ways and this is your opportunity to embrace being in full control of yourself. You have full and complete control of you – for the first time…ever.
While it may feel misguided or undirected, think of all the skills that sports have taught us thus far. You know the exercises. You have the motivation. You know your limits. Respect those limits.
My transition from being a collegiate athlete to a lover of fitness was not an easy one. However, of all of the changes that I endured, it was the acknowledgement of my mortality and destructibility that came as the biggest shock. With no trainer to tell you when to sit down, now you have to listen to yourself. As difficult as it may be, the most important part of this transition is finding the balance between pushing yourself to your utmost fitness level and physically hurting yourself. We know how to be listeners – listeners of constructive criticism, advice and adjustments from trainers and coaches and teammates – and now it’s time to listen to ourselves.
Listen to your body.
The balance is the toughest part, but life is about balance. And besides, it’s not like you’re going to back away from the challenge. We never have. We never will.