Your alarm goes off, Time for 5 am workouts. You run, you lift, you sweat and then it’s time to hit the showers and head to film. A couple hours of film study then a quick 2-hour practice (Have to get ready for next season, right?). Then it’s off to training table to scarf down some food to get ready for class so you make your next weigh in. 3-4 classes a day depending on how aggressive your advisors you got with scheduling and your done for the day you hope. Then you remember you still have those 3 hours of study hall, you knock out some homework, study for the next text or maybe just take a second to catch up with your teammates and unwind either way its most likely about 9 or 10pm at this point if you are lucky.
Time to head home and get some sleep to prepare for tomorrow. I can’t speak for everyone in every program, but I know this was my typical off-season schedule. 6-7 days a week depending on what part of the off season we were in or if anyone got in trouble (one person makes a mistake we all made a mistake). This is our life and our routine, but it feels normal, you find time for friends here and there and maybe a very patient significant other if you are lucky. That being said your reality revolves around your sport, your classes, and what little of a social life you can carve out of what’s left.
For a lot of us that didn’t leave a lot of room for hobbies or finding passions outside of your sport. There usually isn’t too much time off and most of the major family holidays fall during football season so you will be lucky to get that off. But now the clock has run out and you have more free time than ever before. For a lot of us that grew up as multisport athletes, all of a sudden in your mid to late 20’s you have more free time and no structure for the first time in your life. There is this empty vacuum where your sport was, and you aren’t sure if anything can fill the massive void left in your life. Cheer up! There is hope, there is a whole world outside of the lines you never got to experience! New friends to make, new journeys to take, and new mountains to conquer. There is a whole world of hobbies for you to explore, do not be afraid to try new things because you never know what passion you will find.
When I was done, I quickly found that the admiration I had carried for motorcycles after growing up around my dad and my uncles (all superbike riders to this day) turned into a passion that helped me find escape. I found that every ride I took a little bit of the anxiety of what was to come and the loss of what had gone melted away. I made new friends because of it and built a support network around a shared passion. I rediscovered a passion for reading I had lost in my early adolescence because I would rather watch game film or go work out instead of sitting down to read a book. My bookshelf started to overflow again with new journeys and new knowledge. My fiancé and I started to hike the trails all around our beautiful area in the Sierra Nevada’s. Find what moves you and run with it, when you get tired of it get a new hobby!
The beauty of it is, we live in this digital age where a wealth of information is at your fingertips. If you aren’t sure where to start, try a google search for lists of hobbies who knows you may see something that interest you. If you have a rough idea of what you are looking for maybe try YouTube or Reddit, both full of channels and sub blogs full of others with shared interest. From everything I have seen these groups are typically very happy to help someone who just found or is trying to broaden their knowledge on a given topic. The world is your oyster and who knows what new challenge you will find but make sure to take a step in that direction. I know many of us are eager and hungry to enter the workforce and climb the ranks to success but do not forget to carve out time for yourself and your loved ones along the way.
My last post spoke in depth about mental health and the impact it plays in our lives as former athletes which is why having hobbies and other factors you identify with outside of your sport are very healthy. According to a study published in the Psychosom Med in 2010 “Higher PEAT Pittsburgh Enjoyable Activities Test (PEAT) scores were associated with lower blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference, and body mass index, and perceptions of better physical function. These associations withstood controlling for demographic measures. The PEAT was correlated with higher levels of positive psychosocial states and lower levels of depression and negative affect.” (Pressman et al, 2009) This is one of many studies correlating leisure activities with improved overall physical and mental wellness.
Your body and your mind are your temples. Take the time to nurture and grow them. Take the time to explore avenues and interest that you never thought you would be interested in. Today, I want you to go out and try just 1 new thing, watch 1 new video or read one new article on a topic you have always wanted to but never tried! Don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends, maybe one of them has a hobby you never knew you would enjoy but now you have all the time in the world!
Pressman, S. D., Matthews, K. A., Cohen, S., Martire, L. M., Scheier, M., Baum, A., & Schulz, R. (2009). Association of enjoyable leisure activities with psychological and physical well-being. Psychosomatic medicine, 71(7), 725–732. https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181ad7978