THERE were a few common themes that cropped up throughout the conversations I was having with the men who took part in our Reignite Challenge at the weekend.
One – “I’ve missed this. The craic between the lads.”
Two – “I’ve missed this. The competition. The bit of needle to dig deep and push harder than I would on my own.”
Three – “I missed this. Having something to focus on has been the difference between me training regularly, watching what I’m eating and looking after myself a bit more and just giving up as soon as something would get in my way.”
Let’s unpick those themes and see if any of them hit home with you.
The craic. A lot of what we do in life comes down to this – if we can’t take some form of enjoyment out of it, what’s the point? Humans are built for connection. Even the most introverted amongst us will operate at our best when we’re able to lean in on someone for support or accountability whenever we need it.
Being brought up in a team environment has conditioned an awful lot of us to need to feel as if we’re a part of something bigger than just ourselves. That sharing a desire to achieve something as a collective is important.
The craic comes from being in the trenches with people you share that connection with. And when you step away from that team sports’ space you lose it. Not only that, the association it has with being fit and active lingers, so when you try and do something out on your own it quite often doesn’t feel as fulfilling and can be why so many people stop training altogether.
That’s why a cornerstone of our Reignite Programme will be our bi-monthly challenge day. Every two months there’ll be a chance to get together, put your shoulder to the wheel and have the craic with the rest of the group while you’re at it.
The competition. “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.” Vince Lombardi. Anyone who’s played sports at any level gets excited by competition. It’s a very simple and effective way to raise the energy and output of any individual when posed the question, do you want to be a winner or a loser.
Being able to have healthy competition between the guys on the programme was an integral part of why we created it. We want to pull the best out of each other. We want you to have personal pride in what you’re bringing to the table. To your team. And by putting your hand up and joining the party you’re showing that you’re ready to dig in and play your part.
It’s important that things aren’t gamified just for the sake of it. Actions should have meaning behind them. But when those meaningful actions – training hard, eating well, pushing yourself to be better – are married up with that internal competitiveness, that’s when things tend to really take off!
The focus. Over the years I’ve realised that the true progress is made on the journey, but without having a destination to work towards it can be very difficult to know what exactly will help you get from A to B.
Just like when the fixtures are released at the beginning of a season all eyes go straight to when the Championships starts, we fully appreciate that by having something concrete to work towards it keeps you between the lines and less likely to go fully off the map.
Our programming is super simple. Eight-week training blocks with our team challenge day at the end of each block. Outside the individual goals we set each and everyone we work with, there is a collective pitstop at the end of each training block that they know they have to work towards.
What we’re doing isn’t anything groundbreaking. In fact, I’ve been able to sum the essence of it up in 500 odd words.
But I do truly believe it is important. The aftercare for retired players is a blindspot within the GAA and I’m making it my mission to shine a light on it and create a clear pathway off the field as a team player to the very best individual you can be.
You might never work with me, but if you’re reading this and feeling like some of it is hitting home then here are three steps to take to start making progress over the next few weeks.
1. Contact a friend who’s in the same boat as you and ask them if they’d be up for going to the gym or out for a run.
2. Pick an exercise that you’re of a similar level and create a challenge around it. It could be something like a 500m rower sprint or Max Chin Ups.
3. Give yourself a deadline. 30 day sprint. Then reassess and go again.
It’s time to get to work.