Longevity In Sports Competition And Training

Written By John Nunn

A primary key to longevity in sports is staying as active as possible throughout your life. If kids start sports at a young age, they become accustomed to regular practices and competition.

This becomes a physically active routine that can carry on to adult life. The longer an individual is involved in competitive athletics the easier it is to keep going after high school and college. There are many sports options. Pick ones that are fun and participate regularly. When I was in grade school I played baseball, football, skiing and hockey. In high school I played football, basketball and cricket. In college I was introduced to rowing which became my primary sport. But I still found time to play intramural hockey and football. After graduating from college I trained for the Olympics in rowing. I made the team in 1968 in Mexico City. I won the bronze medal in double sculls. After the Olympics I kept active with rowing, bike riding, skiing and a lot of running. At the time I ended my Olympic rowing career there was no such thing as Master’s rowing. I immersed myself in distance running and entered multiple 10K, half marathon and marathon events. My training consisted of 50 to 60 running miles per week. Since my weight fluctuated from 220 to 240, I was putting a lot of stress on my joints. Real marathon runners typically weigh 120 to 140 pounds. Over time I was accumulating running injuries. In addition I had some spectacular skiing and biking crashes, which combined to limit what I was capable of doing.

20 years after my Olympic career was over, I was reintroduced to rowing because a Master’s competitive regatta system had been introduced. This was a lot of fun because rowing was a sport that I enjoyed most and having regular competitions gave me a lot of incentive to train on a regular basis. The incentive came from not only wanting to win races, but to save the embarrassment of being smoked in races and having to suffer the subsequent verbal abuse from friends and rivals. I love to row and when I’m on the water I lose track of time and I never think” When is this going to be over.” Rowing like cycling are no impact sports, so that joints are not overstressed and damaged. For the last 21 years I’ve been on the International Master’s rowing circuit, competing around the world.

Since I have now reached the age of 70, several realities of staying athletically active have become obvious. As we age we lose both flexibility and muscle strength. In order to stay competitive it is necessary to cross train in order to win races. Stretching every day becomes a necessity in order to maintain your range of motion. Weight training on a regular basis is necessary to maintain muscle mass. I like to cross train on the Nordic track cross country ski machine, the EVO stationery bicycle and the Concept 2 indoor rowing machine. All of these machines are very complimentary to rowing training and both helped develop both muscle tone and core strength. The EVO bike is especially good, because it simulates the feeling of being on the road without the dangers of being on the road. Over the years I’ve tried lots of different cross training methods. I’ve kept the ones that help me the most and I have discarded the ones that were not effective or that injured me. When I was training to the Olympics, I had a whole series of free weight workouts that I regularly did. One of my workouts was a set of Cleans. I was doing multiple repetitions and I found that I was pulling the tendons in my wrist. I realized that this was counterproductive, because I needed uninjured wrists in order to compete in the Olympics. Road bike training was another cross training method I used to train for the Olympics. However after two spectacular cycling crashes, I decided to focus on other cross training methods to better preserve my body for competition.

The most important thing to staying active and competitive and sports is to find a sport that you truly enjoy and do it regularly. Enter competitions often to give yourself incentive to do the daily training with the proper intensity. Find cross training methods that complement your sport and improve your performance. Roworx indoor rowing classes in Long beach can give you the perfect high-calorie-fat-burning workout. They have elite personal trainers that are very experienced and have been on national rowing teams. At Roworx these trainers can put you through many different types of workouts that will help you get lean and strong faster. They also give you some variety and maintain your interest and accomplish all you fitness and nutrition goals. Try not to take off exercising for long periods of time, because you’ll experience what I like to call ”the Jell-O syndrome”. That is the muscles you’re not using turn into Jell-O. Also as you age, you lose conditioning faster and faster with each year, but it takes you longer and longer to get back in shape.

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Jack Nunn

Jack Nunn is the head trainer and owner of Roworx. Jack is a former national team rower who has competed in more than 100 triathlons, including 9 full Ironmans. He has created a system of rowing that prepares the whole body for both competition and fitness longevity.

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