Column, Opinions

My New Workout Plan: From a Retired BC Athlete

After four years of competitive Division I athletics here at Boston College, I find myself standing disoriented in the plex, the faint sound of music buzzing through the speakers around me. I gaze around the fourth floor as the regular gym-goers run on the rows of treadmills and endlessly ascend the StairMaster steps. In this moment, I begin to realize how completely and utterly lost I am. 

I’m currently a second-semester senior, and I just finished my last season as a BC field hockey player. I have found there to be a direct correlation between the end of my field hockey career and the fitness limbo I’ve since found myself in.

Sure, I have my old workout packets and regiments from when I was in season, but lots of the workouts my team did were sport-specific. I’m not training for high-level sports anymore, so I don’t want to do split squat jumps or other crazy-looking exercises to make me more “explosive.” Yet as I acknowledge this, the question of what I am actually training for arises.

I used to have a dedicated block of time every day from 12 to 4 p.m. for working out and practicing. Now, I find myself squeezing short blocks of time in wherever I can. In my self-reflective quest, I learned that some retired athletes resort to marathons to quench their undying thirst for competition, but that just did not seem like it would be for me.

Recently, I have been swamped with a part-time job and midterms. This means I haven’t been able to make it to the gym as much, and I have never felt more stressed about it. I remember I used to pray for a day off from the organized torture of field hockey workouts and practice, but now I feel guilty about missing just a day at the gym. 

Even when I can make the time, my routine at the plex—often consisting of a light treadmill jog or another modest cardio session—doesn’t even come close to the intensity of my Division I days. What happened?!

Athletics used to be my thing. I never really got stressed about school or other aspects of my life, but if I didn’t perform on the field, the panic would really start to set in. And with that panic came an overwhelming drive to take action and fix my problems somehow. 

Now, this feeling has manifested itself into my unorthodox gym routine. 

There’s no longer a desired outcome or long-term goal for my fitness journey, I don’t know how to approach working out. Is it okay to work out just for fun and not kill my muscles every day? Is it okay to miss a day, or even a week every so often?  

As I returned to the plex today for the first time in two weeks I felt … okay. This newfound mindset is allowing me to come to terms with my unorganized workout schedule. Whether it involves a brutal run, an intense weightlifting session, just going for a walk, or even taking a day off, your body and your mind matter. 

Balancing mental and physical health is a growing conversation in the world today, but sadly, it is typically neglected during practice. Throughout my athletic career and its aftermath, understanding the significance of balance has proven to be one of the key aspects of my life. It’s a challenge that will undoubtedly continue to shape my actions in the future. 

My advice to anybody who finds themselves at a similar crossroads? Never convince yourself that bettering your balance or taking the time to care for your whole self is unnecessary.

March 24, 2024

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