The beginning of preseason is just around the corner. Being physically fit is an imperative aspect of being a professional athlete. The winter time would be a perfect excuse not to work out for an average person, but typically at this point in my life this excuse doesn’t
work for me. My injury that I got in December while in camp with the U-23 National Team set me back somewhat, which has led me to the belief that the treadmill might be the worst and best invention ever created and simultaneously my best friend and absolute worst enemy. As I am sitting in my room usually ready to go to the gym two hours before I actually leave to go to the gym, I sit and think: two hours, yes, TWO HOURS, before I am ready to go, this new feeling in my stomach and my brain starts to kick in. I never felt it before, but It’s the feeling like you just reversed into someone’s car, you heard a smash but do not want to go out and see the damage that has been done. That feeling is the same feeling I get when I think of getting in my car to go to the gym. At this point, I mentally talk myself in to going, “Come on Allie, you will thank yourself for the hard work you put in after it’s over.” Yes, it works for about two seconds until, “But damn, it is the most pain I felt in a really long time.”
Since I have been injured, every single athlete knows that getting back into shape is the worst possible thing. So as I still sit there thinking, doing everything possible before I get myself in the car, I come to the conclusion that no one is forcing me to do this, there is no gun to my head making me get to the gym or else, I don’t have to do a thing if I don’t want to. I swear, I DON’T want to do this yet miraculously I end up at the gym still within two hours.
After I do my hair nine times, charge my iPhone and iPod, text all my friends, answer any emails, see if anyone commented on my wall on Facebook or Twitter, I finally get in my car. I am so motivated to be the best I possibly can be, but the thought of the treadmill gives me the “reversing smashed car feeling.” I think that a lot of people don’t realize the dedication and sacrifice it takes to be a competitive athlete. I know some of you are reading this, telling yourself that you love to run, but OK great, I love to run into the store from my car in the parking lot too, try getting into the best shape ever in less than two weeks. That goal itself seems unattainable and regardless of my “reversed smashed car feeling,” I get to the gym and do what I have to do or what I can at the moment.
It’s this competitive fire that is inside that drives me to the gym. Getting on the treadmill is kind of easy. Getting through the workout is miserable. And the aftermath is relieving. The first time being on the treadmill since I have been injured and getting over my cool recent addition of bronchitis, I felt my lungs close, envisioned my self passing out and getting tossed off the treadmill while it is still running, embarrassing myself to the maximum. I realized to slow down a little, but more importantly that no matter how much I hate that stupid treadmill, I need it to be the best. I need to run and get fit because when you’re fit, you can play soccer 100 percent better. The first that goes when your tired is your mind, and trust me I can’t afford to lose any more of that. I have always learned that hard work will always pay off, and if you get that “reversed smashed car feeling,” that it’s only temporary, but the results from pushing through pain are worth every doubt. Being mentally strong is just as important as being physically strong.
Allie Long is a midfielder for Sky Blue FC of Women’s Professional Soccer. She played for the Washington Freedom in 2009 and 2010. The 23-year-old scored two goals in each of her first two years in WPS and was recently called up to train with the U.S. U-23 Women’s National Team. (Photo copyright Women’s Professional Soccer and may not be replicated, reproduced, distributed or downloaded.)