Updated: Sep 7
There are many reasons why people train; to look better, improve their sporting game, win a fitness contest, lose weight, gain muscle, or build long-term fitness. Of course, people can also train for a combination of reasons, but there is usually a core motivation at the heart of their training which encourages them to sweat it out on the field or in a gym.
For myself, and particularly as I move through my 40s, training for the long-term has become increasingly important, perhaps for obvious reasons, and certainly because it is a way to buy time as you move forward in life. Physical training (and particularly training that builds strength and resilience) buys time for the individual as they age and also ensures that whatever happens in a person’s life can be tackled robustly.
When you start training for a long-term sport, it is interesting because you get to see what the locus of training is about, which is to make the body and mind stronger. When you train for a sport, as I have as a rugby player, one thing you need to do is to recover quickly to continue playing the sport in question. In a similar vein, as you get older (and by older I mean when you move through your thirties into your forties and beyond) one of the important things, in my opinion, is that you should be efficient with your training.
Time becomes a more pressing factor as it passes and a precious commodity as the years advance. So, don’t waste it and instead, make it work in your favour.
Sometimes people think that age-related issues do not start to become pressing until they reach the age of 50 or 60 because they think this is when issues of health or vitality start to be felt. The reality, however, is that getting ahead of this curve and capturing these potential issues much earlier is the way to avoid meeting them further down the track. So instead of putting off training for the long-term, start engaging with this change to your training regime when your thirties or forties come around.
Get ahead of the game.
This can mean engaging in intense exercise and strength training, if this is not happening already, at the very beginning of this different phase of your life. This juncture (30 years and upwards) is also an important change-over point for most people, and the world can very quickly become a different place to live in when it arrives. Training can also become more tiring from this point - your first warning that things are about to change!
When you train at this stage it is also important to optimise the time and effort that goes into training and the energy that is expended for everything else around it. Learning to do this, to balance the expenditure of energy and time, can partly be achieved by adopting long-term fitness goals. Because you have less time and energy as your life changes, you need to put that energy into your training in the right way at the best time and then follow this strategy for the rest of your life.
This principle was illustrated for me recently in an article I read about the French footballer, Kingsley Coman (pictured), who is 25 years old and plays for Bayern Munich. In the article, Coman explains how he, even at his young age, sees no point in playing every ball at 100% capacity because, in Coman’s view, you don’t need to play each ball at that high level.
Why? Because it is a waste of energy and is the same situation when training.
Once this is understood, training becomes more efficient, and when training smarter, you can adapt better to the process of training for the long term.
So, train smarter with a focus on the horizon and not just in the moment to achieve a fitter and more enjoyable life.