‘You are your only limit’… ‘Train hard, win easy’… ‘All it takes is all you’ve got’… ‘Can’t is not an option’… ‘Pain is temporary, victory is forever’.
Top sporting icons and brands infuse their messages with motivational mantras encouraging us to be our best, and perform at our best no matter the costs. Without correct preparation, this is simply speaking impossible.
The message is no excuses, no mercy, no rest for the wicked athletes who win medals and trophies. You only get what you give.
Wait a minute… TIME OUT!
Listen, we are TwicetheHealth. We aspire to healthy living and more. We want to win and achieve things and we want to do it yesterday. Challenge is the first word in the TTH vocabulary. No sooner had we run the Grand Canyon last year than we were looking for the next test. So much to do, so little time to do it in. We live and work in the fitness industry so the lifestyle can be as fast as the race pace. We like it that way.
But, the best sporting mantras are far more measured, focusing on preparation, rest, and recovery in the lead up to a big event. The world’s leading sportsmen and women seem to spend months preparing for big races or games, often in exchange for a very small amount of time spent actually performing. For example, a world class sprinter will devote months, maybe years to perfecting their technique in order to achieve their PB which may only last a matter of seconds. Success is about timing… and timing is often about a word you rarely hear in 2017… patience.
‘Patience is the ability to countdown before you blast off’
… it’s not a catchphrase that will necessarily sell trainers or hoodies but it is a much better motto for success. It is in the vital moments during the countdown to a rocket launch that the final checks are carried out. There is no turning back once it leaves the pad. You had better get everything right long before then. Winners don’t win until they are good and ready to win… until they’ve had their time out.
We have started the countdown to our next challenge to run a section of The Great Wall of China in May. There are not enough hours in our days right now but we know from experience that patience is as important as sweat or tears. This is not a good time to pull a muscle through over-training!
Each and every countdown is different, but preparation remains key. If our rockets are not properly fuelled, we will soon come hurtling down to earth with a bump. Our bodies require as much, if not more, rest and recovery time as they do training miles. One of the first things you notice about elite athletes when you’re lucky enough to be around them is how much time they spend with their feet up!
New research from Bupa shows that only one in 20 of us pause to take time out during the day. Worse still, we are now less likely than ever to take a break from life’s treadmill. Over half (54%) are now experiencing health problems associated with burn-out such as stress, fatigue, illness or injury. Our working daily commitments spread beyond the regular 9 to 5, easy access to technology keeps our minds (and fingers) occupied even in our down time and social pressures keep telling us that our time is too precious to waste.
The worldwide web has the population on a leash, bound to its constant flow of intelligence and hooked up to its power source. We seem to be permanently in debt to our inbox and Google calendar in a constant state of catch-up. Human beings are learning to walk around busy streets with their heads looking down at their screens so as not to fall further behind the latest on Taylor Lautner’s six-pack or the Kardashians’ love lives. There is an old saying about ‘taking time to smell the roses’. I can’t remember when I last saw a rose that wasn’t wrapped in cellophane on a garage forecourt.
Last year, when we were running the 50k trail that took us from the North to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, we might as well have been in another galaxy. We found ourselves in a world without Instagram or Twitter (yes, one does exist!). For seven splendidly solitary hours we gave no thought to our extended email chains and Facebook friend requests. There was only one screen shot to look at… planet Earth! We were totally surrounded by incredible views that took away what breath we still had left. We experienced and embraced dramatic changes in altitude, surroundings and temperature. It was a surreal but wonderfully vivid experience. I can close my eyes and see it all again now. On a normal day in London I can’t remember where I last put my car keys… a year on from that unique day in Arizona, I can recall every second inside the Canyon.
We are lucky girls. We live truly great lives. I can think of only one thing better than the daily TwicetheHealth experience… and that’s escaping it occasionally! Time outs are luxuries. Treat yourself to one. They are refreshing, reviving and renewing. They fortify us against whatever is coming our way next. They rebuild strength, they rekindle passions, they reboot our creative and philanthropic instincts. They just make us feel better about ourselves and everybody and everything else. And they are not illegal!
Time outs are even better when they are taken before they are prescribed. Your doctor will be the first person to tell you that prevention is better than cure, and thanks to Bupa’s new pay as you go service, prevention is easier than ever. They’ll join us in being the first to tell you a good exercise regime is among the best preventative medicines but exercise in a desk-bound, mouse-clicking job requires you to take a break from routine. Time outs are not just open invitations to kick your shoes off, turn the television on and chill out with your favourite tipple or treat. A change of pace is the secret to a good recharge. Get some variety into your life. If you live most of it on your butt, get up on your feet more! If, like us, you are fortunate enough to work up a sweat for a living, then warm down and stretch.
Pressure comes in all shapes and sizes. Don’t try to relieve the pressures in your life by following in famous or fictional footsteps. A lot of medical antidotes are developed by identifying the body’s natural antibodies. Sometimes you just need a little helping of the opposite. It’s not science, it’s just logic. If we pick up an injury from exercise, we stop training in order to let the body recover. If we feel tired after a session, we rest. If you’re a bit down and fed up, spoil yourself a little. If you’re feeling stressed, find your little corner of Canyon to de-stress. Nothing in excess… just an antidote.
Taking a break isn’t lazy, it’s human. What do you do when a heater or a radiator gets too hot?… you turn it off for a while. Why is there a snooze function on a clock alarm?… because we can sometimes afford to take an extra few minutes’ rest that will make all the difference later in the day. ‘Feeling’ rested is as important as ‘being’ rested.
So we are joining forces with Bupa to promote time outs. To help do this we are drawing clear boundaries between work and play… creating ‘me time’. Using ‘me time’ well may (just occasionally) involve a slice of chocolate cake. A little of what you fancy… but only a little. ‘Me time’ must be as valuable and productive as ‘work time’. It’s a time out, not a ‘blow out’. Every binge comes with a hangover. ‘Me time’ has got to make you feel better. It’s got to come with a profit, not a loss. It’s got to bring benefits. And that makes it as important to prepare for as any other time in your day. Dream up your perfect detox and then do it.
We are going to spend 24 hours in ‘pamper land’. We are not going to put on weight or have any body parts remodelled. We are simply going to find a different level of appreciation of the joys of everyday. We are going to open the novel that’s sat on the bedside table for far too long, we are going to watch ‘Sneaky Pete’ from beginning to end then maybe a favourite childhood movie. We are going to call our grandparents and old school friends. We may even wear onesies.
We’re going to use this time out to make appointments that put us first…We are going to make plans for us, not work, not social pulls, not even our exercise routines. The plans we make will put our wellness first. These will include asking our GP’s about a ‘mind boggling’ mystery (well mind-boggling to us anyway!!) and seeking an opinion from a specialist about that niggle in the knee. We may even get some advice on my sleeping habits. TTH time will be spent differently from most of our time and therein will lie its value but we will monitor and match that value in a way that will help us going forward. It’s only what our bodies and minds deserve. To make booking these GP or physio appointments that bit easier, Bupa now offers a range of treatments and services available on pay as you go, so you don’t need health insurance or a contract
In some of the big American team sports, a coach can call a number of time outs whenever he or she wants to. It’s an opportunity to stop, rest and refocus in the hope of producing better performances and results later in the game. The big difference between Bupa and basketball is that you, the players, have got to call the time out. Our hands are up in the shape of a ‘T’. Join us and make more of yourself. For more information on Bupa pay as you go, visit www.bupa.co.uk/_payg