The concept of the 24 hour athlete was first introduced to me by one of my coaches early on in my sporting career, and it has stuck with me ever since. He used to say that he couldn’t hold our hand 24 hours a day, and that we had to take ownership of our development outside of training. As a developing athlete, I trained up to 2 hours a session, twice a day, 5 days a week. That’s quite a lot of training; however it only equates to 20 hours a week leaving the other 148 for us to manage our own growth and development.
Being a responsible athlete.
Let’s take strength training as an example. I would be professional around the training session making sure I was hydrated and coming with the right nutrition for pre and post session. I would warm-up properly, work hard in the session and cool down whilst taking on board the recovery shake I had bought with me as a responsible athlete looking after my body.
However, what happened the rest of the day or week when we were not training?
Living by certain standards.
This is where the concept of the 24 hour athlete comes in. This doesn’t mean that we should be working out all day, everyday; but what it does mean is that outside of training we should be aiming to live by certain standards that mean the hard work we do in training isn’t done in vein. Too often the potential improvements from great workouts are often lost to poor habits outside of the training room. Late nights, drinking, poor nutritional choices, chronic sitting and many other habits negate the improvements that were made just hours earlier.
As an athlete, I will explain what this concept means to me:
– eating the right meals at the right times to fuel me and speed up my recovery.
– getting enough sleep so my body has recovered and is growing, so I am ready to go again the next day.
– constantly learning and finding new ways to do things better, which means watching footage, reading books on training and keeping a journal to look back and see why I was successful/not successful.
To someone who is not an elite athlete it may mean something completely different.
It may not entail the same level of dedication an athlete needs to put in, but it will probably mean monitoring your sleep to make sure you are getting the best out of yourself at work and in your home life. It may be as simple as doing some daily mobility maintenance for 10 minutes in your lunch break that means you don’t go home with a stiff back at the end of the day.
Ultimately, whilst the 24 hour concept was designed with the elite athlete in mind, it is more than applicable to everyone, in every walk of life. The core values of the concept are dedication, effort and consistency and when applied can accelerate your results exponentially, be that in the gym, on the field, at work or at home.
Invest in yourself.
All you need to do is invest in yourself more than just the time you spend in the gym working out, or on the phone negotiating your latest deal. You wouldn’t spend all weekend cleaning and caring for your Ferrari and then put the cheapest petrol in the tank. It’s the same with human beings. For instance someone in sport when thinking of browsing social media, should try instead listening to podcasts by leaders in fitness (Guru Performance, The Mike Dolce Show); or for office workers, watch videos on how to develop your mobility whilst at your desk (Mobility WOD).
Never stand still in your development. Take care of yourself outside of training or work by employing the maximum amount of effort consistently and you will see the benefits.
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About the Author:
Andy Burns represented Scotland at Judo in the 2014 Commonwealth Games and came away with a Bronze medal, beating a strong Australian competitor to take the win in front of a home crowd. Since then Andy has won two Olympic Qualifying events and is working towards building his World Ranking in order to make Team GB for Rio 2016.