Why should anyone bother to do sport? Yeah, all the health benefits and stuff, but there’s more to it. Almost ten years ago now I had an asthma, couldn’t run 100 meters without getting blue and blacking-out, used to spend around 8-10 hours in front of the computer and looked like this:
Now you would say I wasn’t huge or anything, but I was extremely unfit. I couldn’t do pushups, pull ups or run. I was only good at sitting. At the time I also was part of a club that was going to the mountains for hikes, but I always struggled with it. I’ve never really done much sports until then. Sure, there were exercises in school which I sucked at. I was the one getting chosen last for the football team and was usually the goalkeeper with the idea that I wouldn’t need to touch the ball much (hopefully).
I didn’t like sport exactly. I preferred geeky stuff.
Then, one summer while sitting in my room with all windows open while it was around 38-40 degrees outside something happened. Still it’s not clear what changed, but I got an idea – running. Let me make it clear how radical that was for me – my mother used to tell me often “Why don’t you go out to the stadium and run?” (there’s a stadium just next to my block building – the irony). To that I would reply “Have you seen any cats going around, running in order to exercise? They sleep most of the time and when they need to, they run”. Years went by like so until that summer day. Without sounding like a drama queen I can tell you that my life changed on that day.
I got up, put my shoes on and went to the stadium. It was hot (not ideal), but I was determined that I would run. I started and after around 100m I got really dizzy, out of breath and had to lie on the ground. My lungs were not used to the stress. After lying for about 15 minutes or so I went back home and continued to rest for the remainder of the day. It could all have ended then and there, but there was a problem – I had an idea and I was as stubborn as you get. Next day I went out again, ran 100m and went back all red in the face and dizzy. It was decided – I will run every single day, even if it’s 100m – so be it!
After two months I was running 6km a day, after three months I lost 15kg. My diet changed naturally because my body wanted different things and I created a routine for myself including stretching before training. I didn’t watch any “how to stretch” videos or read dieting books – I just went out every day and did what felt right to me.
For me it started with two main reasons. Vanity – I wanted to loose weight, I hated the way I was. Health – I wanted to be better when hiking and not struggle so much.
Do you need only a specific reason to do sports, one that “sounds good” to other people? No, you only need a reason for yourself.
However, things have changed now for me. After almost ten years I have tried different sports, both in teams and solo. I’ve done hiking, running, basketball, cycling, swimming, volleyball, badminton, climbing, gym training with weights, body-weight training and I realised that there are different sports for different people for different reasons. For me, apart from health, the most important reason to do sport at all, to go through pain and struggles is so that I can build my character. Every time before training I struggle, because I know it will be hard and I need to push more than I am comfortable with. It’s facing my fear and the wining inside saying “oh, why not get some food and watch a movie?”, “or do something productive?”, “what about tomorrow?”. You would think that over time these “voices” would stop, but they never do, you have to overcome them every time and that’s the point precisely.
I prefer solo sports, activities where I can focus completely and fall into a meditative-type state. A state where nothing else occupies your mind but what you are doing right here, right now. You are alone with yourself, with all the excuses, seeing who you really are. Not like people see you on the outside “look, he is doing really well, he is training hard”, but who you really are – a person that is shooting multiple excuses per second, fighting with himself, in doubts and fears.
Every time I finish a training session, one that I really pushed hard and gave everything I have – I am happy, because I know I didn’t give in, I didn’t quit.
People say that confidence comes with sport, which is true. The main reason is because through sport and the physical struggles, over time you see the results and you realise that you can. “I did this, then I can probably do that as well.”
“The way you develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear to do and get a record of successful experiences behind you.”
– Dale Carnegie
Sport is one of the three pillars of health (along with nutrition and rest). The reason I devote a significant part of my time exercising is because it helps me remove stress, focus and build a character, confidence and the hope that I can make things better for myself and those around. Every time when exercising, there is the chance to learn how to overcome the biggest obstacle in my life – myself.