Or why constantly looking for the athlete you were can lead to trouble...
We've all been there - a season or two removed for competion in sports for what ever reason. When it comes time to return to that sport, it's also time for the glorious comeback - reclaiming the speed, power or skill that once defined us athletically. There are plenty of stories of athletes suffering major injuries and then finding themselves at the pinnacle of their sport again. The comebacks happen, but with less frequency among the weekend warriors or life long athletes then the premier elites. One major reason is that many life long athletes don't have the resources of the elites. We don't have the ability to hop in a plane so the top surgeon can work is magic. We are usually stuck with which ever doc the insurance company will pay for. We also usually don't have unlimited access to PTs and world class gyms. It might be 24 visits and rehabbing at 24 hour fitness. So comparing our ability to mount the comeback to that of the elites is to provide false hope to how quickly and how well we might return. Another is the reasons behind the seasons off - was if for injury, family, work, or simply changing sports for a while? Each reason will have different outcome for the life long athletes a necessitate a different approach to that comeback. Someone who took a break due to injury will need a different build back to competion then someone who switched sports and is now returning to the first love. The person who backed off with family and work responsibilities might not have the time anymore to split between activities. It becomes a delicate balancing act between training and the other responsibilities.
Regardless of the reasons, one thing remains clear. We cannot compare the athlete we are now to the athlete we were. For some, that comparison will lead to injury and a false sense of how good they should be. "I could run a sub 3:00 marathon a month ten years ago - I should be able to do that now." The expectation that the history of sport will over weigh the need to a safe and steady rebuilding will lead to either physical injury or worse, mental breakdown as times that "should" be easy remain a struggle. We cannot look back at our history and jump back into the same place we left. At the same time, for some athletes looking at the past will serve to hold them back. The past doesn't reflect increased activity, weight loss or any other factors and the struggle an athlete once had to finish a 5k may no longer be an issue.
So don't call it a Comeback. That term provided limitations on what we are capable of doing with a return to sport. Instead, it's a reboot - Version 2.0 or which ever version we are on. A new version that is built on the athletic history and new goals. With the new year just days away, what will your new version be?
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