by Dr. Nikita Fensham MBChB (UCT) PgDip (IOPN)
As we roll into the second quarter of 2021 and the odd race is starting to pop up in various locations around the world, many athletes are getting excited again about the prospect of testing their personal limits.
My motivation to specialize in the area of sports medicine was born out of personally experiencing and witnessing how sport changes lives. There is something immensely inspiring about pushing our mental and physical boundaries, which translates into how we conduct our daily lives at work, at home, and with our friends and family.
However, there is also a “pathological” side of sport where we pursue performance goals at the sacrifice of health. Although this may be tolerated in the short-term, continuously going to the well ultimately results in an unhealthy athlete in both body and mind. And because I have been in this place, my career ambition is to prevent other athletes from doing the same.
Over a few blog posts, I hope to explore various elements of this paradigm to help you be more mindful of your athletic pursuits, and keep you on a path of healthy performance.
Before you embark on a journey to achieving a sporting goal, it is incredibly helpful to ask yourself your “why”. What are you trying to achieve? Beyond the numbers, what meaning does that provide for you? Because when you achieve it, will you be happy? And if you don’t, how will you feel about yourself?
This doesn’t have to have a profound or philosophical answer, but I fear that all too many of us blindly pursue “meaningless” goals in pursuit of a happiness we think it will result in.. and then doesn’t.
Dr. Martin Seligman, best known for his theory on positive psychology, introduced the PERMA model, which outlines five components he believed contribute to wellbeing:
So I encourage you to reflect on your current circumstance and see where you could make small changes that target these elements.
In the current environment of Zoom, sometimes we need to zoom out and take stock. And when there’s something you find that is probably leading you down a path of pursuing unhealthy performance, perhaps step back.
Social media, Instagram “influencers”, Strava kudos tend to push us towards doing more. And sometimes you need to be brave and buck the trend… to do less and be more.
P.S. The MX community are truly wonderful. Please reach out if you need a helping hand. I’m paying it forward for the incredible support I have received.
Medical disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of your own doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition. Never disregard the advice of a medical professional, or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here.
(Header photo by AJ Alao on Unsplash)
The common refrain is: take your time, listen to your body, and let it heal.
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