Getting older happens to us all, and if you are a competitive athlete the thought of slowing down can be scary, and also hard to deal with. Recently I have had a couple of emails from women who are concerned with ageing and how it is affecting them. From slowing down, getting more injuries, and putting on weight.
There are things that we can do to help, and taking a pro-active stance is positive for your mental well-being. But what happens when you are really struggling and nothing you do seems to help. This is the reply I gave to someone who wrote to me about her swimming declining.
Thanks for your message it sounds like you’re having a hard time at the moment.I’m assuming you contacted me, as I’m a coach, but I’ll just say, I definitely don’t have all the answers. It seems like a really hard time in our lives, and it sounds like you are giving yourself a hard time on top of that! All I can tell you is what I’ve found has helped me.
Try and think what it is you love about swimming, is it getting fast times, or are there other things that keep you going back to it? Sometimes a change of focus can help, or even a total break, if its making you miserable.
If you did break from swimming, is there anything else that can help you to get that feeling of what you love from swimming?
You may need to think about your training differently as we inevitably lose muscle mass as we get older. It will happen, and we can try and minimise it by doing weights and replacing protein after sessions. Nutrition info here
There is research to show that HIIT training is effective as you age, but again its harder to recover from these sessions as we get older. You may need to do a bit less volume, depending on what your training week looks like.
A book with a lot of info about this is Joe Friel fast after 50. (I’m not 50 but I think its still useful advice)
Sounds like you’re doing a lot of this already, though and it may be more the mental side of things that are troubling you.
When I was feeling really low I listened to podcasts, talked with friends, and also found making a list of my core values helped.
It made me realise that I was more than my times or achievements, but I also appreciate its very hard to do these things when you don’t even want to get out of bed, as I have felt some times.
I also know now that it will pass, and I’ll feel better again eventually!
I hope some of this helps, but if you are getting very low, I would see your GP, or someone you can talk to about these feelings, as it will really help if you express your fears and concerns.
Show yourself some self compassion at this time, you are not only a swimmer, you are so much more. Take Care
Of course men can feel the pressure of slowing down too, but they don’t have the same hormonal issues as women. Matt Dixon did a great podcast here with some mature athletes. The takeaway is to be flexible and don’t be afraid to try something new. Its easy to compare yourself to how fast you were when you were younger, but that doesn’t help you to feel good about yourself. Remember that you are more than your accomplishments, be an amazing human.
Here is a bit of inspiration for you, stay positive, and if you can’t, then get help!
For research purpose I was taking a look at this short BBC clip I did with @eddiebrocklesby 6 years ago where I was asked how long Eddie would go on racing for – well I can answer that she’s signed up for @ironmanaustria 2020 and she’ll be 77 next yearhttps://t.co/XasPMDi3bN
— annie (@triathannie) October 22, 2019