If you’re a baller, gridiron star or cross-country maven, you can relate to all the stages we go through during preseason. First, we’re excited to get back together with the team and our friends, many of whom we’ve only seen periodically during the summer. Then, there’s frustration, as social hour turns into suicide sprints and beep drills, bringing us to the brink of losing our collective minds.
By the end, we’ve all made it through fitness hell, gaining both strength and stamina to carry us through a long season. The reality is that we must get uncomfortable to reach our full potential.
Thanks to preseason, we’re faster, tougher and more prepared for the season ahead.
STAGE 1: EXCITEMENT
New shoes! New sports bras! New equipment! Everything’s been washed and your gym bag doesn’t smell like Chernobyl for a change. How about that?
You’ve been counting down the days until you can see your friends again. The endless text chains and Zoom calls only go so far, especially as the starting quarterback is dating the women’s soccer goalie and you need to know all the dirty deets.
There’s also an uncanny excitement to show off the tricks that you’ve been working on all summer – in the backyard, at camps or through the latest social media craze.
At least now, you’ll have a camera person to film you instead of relying on that crummy tripod.
STAGE 2 – FRUSTRATED
The greetings and gossip have come and gone. Now, it’s time to get down to business.
And then it hits – a double dose of your summer diet filled with empty calories and the decision to “take it easy” for the last two months. It feels like you’ve been punched in the gut, lungs and backside, all at the same time.
The coaches line up around the field, stopwatches in hand, for your first timed conditioning drill of the new season. You can feel your legs moving, but they feel like cinderblocks. That twinge in your hamstring feels like a season-ending injury, when in reality, it’s just a reminder that you half-assed your stretch.
This isn’t going to be as much fun as you thought it’d be.
STAGE 3 – DEFEATED
“You want us to run these sprints again? It’s 100 degrees out!”
“I was much faster last season. Where are those three-tenths of a second this year?”
“Why is this newbie benching more than me? They’re going to take my starting spot!”
“Will the season EVER get here?!”
“I’m too tired to make dinner. Let’s get takeout.”
By the third week of preseason, the end seems so far away. The fatigue associated with the dog days of summer has fully set in, as has your daily routine, which you’ve compared to living in a sports-filled prison.
- Wake up at the crack of dawn
- Drink a protein shake while getting ready for morning practice
- Afternoon practice
- Pass out while watching reality TV
- Do it again until you go insane
This is your life now. Get used to it.
STAGE 4 – PREPARED
Finally. Thank GOD it’s over.
It’s the first week of a new season. The weeks of training have made you faster, stronger and even a little bit lighter (thanks to sweating like a pig during double sessions in the middle of August).
You won’t work as hard during the season as you have during the last four weeks. But, that’s the point. When push comes to shove in the 85th minute, the fourth quarter or the third set of a tennis match, you’ll now find yourself to be the most fit athlete around.
If preseason couldn’t stop you, neither will your opponent.