T Nation

Sports Psychology & The Aging Athlete


This is such an under discussed topic. Considering the importance and the magnitude of the subject. It should have it's own thread. I want it here where it belongs and where those who need and use it may contribute.

This is the most intense and difficult aspect of my training. Over coming the many obstacles that arises in every day live. Plus the mental hurdles that accompany training for a specific goal.

These are the big three I work on daily. Some days I win some days I lose. But every day I fight the battle to over come.

  1. Staying focused: not missing workouts, achieving goals

There are no days off, days off happen. That is rule #1. If I have planned days off and then something comes up(and they always do). Then I am losing important training days. I find I usually get all the down time I need without days off.

Bad days are the worst. When I'm tired or bagged of energy or just down right lazy. The battle in my mind can get nasty.

Small goals lead to big goals. Figuring out the best way to achieve a large goal. Setting a series of smaller goals that will lead the a larger one. Doing this is easier with a single sport than one that requires both physical and aerobic, the second requires synchronized training and goal setting. For me this is a hit and miss, a definite work in progress.

  1. Negative energy: battling all the negative forces out there.

This I battle with isolation. I just don't let negative people near me. I spent my energy battling all the preconcieved notion that society has filled my head with. I am pretty much at the point where I don't believe anything that puts a limit on my abilities.

  1. Staying positive: exercising the mind to over come, to adapt, to dominate.

Staying in a positive frame of mind can be a major challenge if one is surrounded by negative people. It is a daily struggle to maintain a positive out look on everything. I still find myself getting caught up in some negativity or other. So I kick my ass and move on.

Training the mind to dominate is awesome. It's something I do when training or time trialing. I have a mind set that does not understand "can't". I don't go into a workout wondering if I will accomplish what I have set out to do.

I go in prepared to accomplish my goals and live with the results until the next time. I really enjoy the battle between body and mind. It's such a difficult and challenging struggle. One that I hope to someday always win!

I will Analyze and Adapt

Destiny is not to be waited for: it is to be Achieved


Who was it that said an unexamined live is not worth living? I think it was Socrates. Anyways I am constantly monitoring my thoughts.
All great thing are nothing more than a series of small things done correctly. A running back breaks through the line and runs for a touch down. The hand off,the sustained block, and his cut back all contributed to the result. All small goals done in the moment.
When I feel especially crappy I reduce all things to the moment. Walk into the gym,do light warm ups maybe even lay back on the old bench press, take a few breaths and sort it all out.
Our egos are the main challenge. We react to situations with negative energy,I still do it an I am trying to master it.


Getting older sucks, but it is a double edged sword. At age 54, I've learned a lot about myself, but I have also gone through some physical, athletic losses. My reflexes, have all dimished. My joints are stiff, my shoulders are weak and I have had to say goodbye to playing rugby, because I just can't take the hits like I used to.

Anyone who played competitive sports in their younger days goes through this same process. There are no 50 plus year old field athletes for obvious reasons. I admit to having trouble sometimes, focusing on what I have now.

I still enjoy going to the gym and lifting, but in my weak moments, I need to stop grieving my lost physical abilities, and work on appreciating and maximizing what I have left in me now. Or else I will become one of those "Glory Days" old farts who begin every sentence with "When I was an athlete, back in the day.........."


In my training I'm not really considering what is possible for "a guy my age." I'm just trying to figure out what is possible for me in this next training session. Will I exceed last sessions poundages or reps? If not, why not? What am I doing t limit myself? Usually, it's simply not eating or sleeping enough.

All the reading I've done on the subject of gerentology and weight training allows me to safely ignore what someone else thinks is possible or impossible. Including my friends, doctors and Joe Schmoe Old Guy in the gym, who back in the day was "pretty darn strong," but who has since gone to seed.

I'm not saying I'm better or that there won't be a diminishing of capability over time, but I am of the firm belief that said diminishing is a primarily function of LACK OF TRAINING and secondarily of aging, not accounting for injury.

Summary: I train in the now and I don't listen to anyone who isn't going to improve my training.


What is amazing is just how much progress people make who start training in their 60s and 70s. There is a heck of a lot to be said for paying attention to yourself and your own lack of limits.

Especially with strength.


This is all well and good for anyone who STARTS training in midlife. Sometimes, I find it discouraging that I can no longer do what I used to be able to, and I lose my focus.

I now get my motivation from others who have worked like hell with determination to overcome or work with a physical disability, and I just try not to think about what I have lost, but what I have left.


With varying lifestyles, genetics and training regiments. We are all facing our own challenges as we age. This is when we pay the piper for your youthful sins. It is also when we strut our stuff.

I am limited to how much I can bench press. The abuse I enflicted on my shoulders playing baseball now haunts me. I don't mind, if I think back to those days I always smilie they were good times. I'm trying to rehab the shoulders again, we'll see.

Others have their own limitations and physical hurdles to clear. That's not what we focus on however. It's about what does work. There are many that have struggled with limitations all their lifes. Some have achieved amazing results, opening doors for others to come through.

Can't, only means you have to try harder. Once you stop trying you start dieing. It's not so much about succeeding as it is about trying. I may not succeed at my goals, but I will not stop trying. One needs a purpose for living, mine happens to be a whole lot of fun.


I was younger and was strong enough that I scared people. Ripped the reinforced collar right off a heavyweight gi one of the instructors was wearing in my Judo class (and he never sparred with me again).

But I've also gotten so out of shape I was able to lift less weight than one of those spandex cell phone accessories (which is really all that some of the pop tarts at a gym are).

I'll take what I can get.


I can't explain why, but I rarely reflect on my age. Most of my mental energies are focused on improving the situation now. I know physically that I have diminished,but I have grown in other areas of my life.


I rarely reflect on my age because my body gives me no reason to. My focus is on my goals, not on what I may or may not be able to do. I know when I can no longer do something because I can't do it, move on! There were a lot of things I couldn't do when I was younger. I'm doing them now however.


And smarter as well!



good thread/points streamline - i need to work on #3. i have been a glass empty guy too much lately.


Yes since I started working I don't plan any days off, and go as often as I can. I plan both small goals and large goals.

Once in the blue I try to think like a highschool coach and have a ridiculously long and strenuous workout. Makes the rest of the month alot easier.

The hardest thing for me is meal planning. I can plan the meal, but I have the hardest time motivating myself to do the cooking, so eating out always seems to happen, and it's always bad.

2) fortunately i'm an introvert so avoiding people helps, and when people tell me something can't be done it's the best motivation.

3) This goes back to the strenuous workout. I always liked the phrase train the body and the mind will follow. The purpose of the extremely difficult workout is to prepare myself for the focus I need during the smaller ones

4) I'm under 35 suckaaaaaaaaaas !!!!!!!, but it seems to be approaching fast.


All ways surround your self with the appropriate food. Stock cabinet with a surplus stock of tuna and an abundant amount of protein powder. Also, an ample amount of fruits and veggies-no excuse for not eating fruit- just peel and eat.

If you feel real lazy, buy t.v dinners and supplement with protein drink and a piece of fruit-feed the desert to your dog.


Perception, how the way we perceive things are influenced by the environment.

I was driving to my last stop today. Taking the highway back into the city. I passed a digital clock/tempature sign displayed by a local business. The temp. was 12C or 56F degrees.

The thought that went through my head was, "It's getting cool out, skating is about to become a chore." Have I mentioned I don't like the cold. Well I don't like being cold, which makes skating in the cold a chore.

Anyway, that got me to thinking back to the spring. A really lousy spring, in case I forgot to mention it. I was out skating in 8-9C, thinking how wonderful it would be if it were 12C. Now I look at 12C as an I have to wear extra gear, it's cold, my nose will run, my eyes will water, whine, whine like a little bitch.

The fact that I percieve the tempature differently depending on whether it's heating up or cooling down. Shows that the environment has this influence over my body and mind and the way I respond to it.

Now I understand totally why this occurs. Going from cold to warm is easier to adapt to than warm to cold. Still there is a major change in my mental make-up. I don't view workouts in the same frame of mind. I quess that's why I call winter workouts "training" and summer workouts "recess" or "playtime"!

I still work hard, winter or summer. I just don't enjoy it the same way from one season to the next. It's just the way the environment affects the way I perceive things.


The weather definitely effects performance.

Lived in Michigan most of my life-the winters there are atrocious. Lifting is what helped me keep my sanity,along with chopping wood ,for wood burner.
I have adapted to tropical climate and last time I returned to MI. I suffered. The runny nose and the chilled lungs impedes on your cardio when performed outside. Even in the gyms the cold air leaks through. Several times fell ill due to improper cool downs-20 degrees fahrenheit-riding home in the car.
For me perception is one event and labeling another. When I was younger playing touch foot ball in the snow was fun. While shoveling snow was a drag.
It seems simplistic but when I find myself labeling I try shut the thinking down. Sometime thinking is detrimental.
Good luck with skating. This is just a dark cloud you will push through it.


When the weather gets cold, it's time to go skiing/snowboarding/snowshoeing. Besides, shovelling snow is crosstraining.

I'm an all-weather outdoorsperson, and New England is so beautiful in the fall. It is a bit sad whenever it's time to take my sailboat out of the water, but soon I'll be taking my ski gear out of the storage closet.


What's weather?


That hurts my soul


Dead lifts and dead tired.
Started my dl routine this morning and ran out of gas. Started sneezing and had an itchy throat-I shut it down and took the wife to town.

Decided to yield to a greater intelligence-that being all the red lights my body was giving me. That intelligence is the same as what tells flower pedals to fold in the mid day sun. Once ,I pushed a bad knee(jogging) until I could barely walk.
Upon reflection it has been 5 weeks since a total day off-maybe I'll take tomorrow off.