Sorry, Justin, don't mean to imply that you are. I'm actually way closer to that demographic comapred to you! :-)
This post is in response to an email that my friend sent to me about getting back into training after a really debilitating injury. And believe me, his is really bad. But I admire his incredible verve and spirit for even contemplating that. The great thing is that he is using phrases like "soul searching", the "mental game" and the like. This is a great first step
Now I know the young bucks will poo-poo all this and just believe that you should train on tank filled with 99% testosterone and 1% intelligence but I just want them to reach my age and see whether it's possible to do so without ending up on a first name basis with your Orthopaedic surgeon. (In my case, it doesn't apply - my brother is one)
When you get older, the ratio should be reversed; not because your nuts get smaller but because your body can't take at 40 what it did at 18. It's not possible. Not even with all the supplements and ginseng known to man. So, below are a few tips on how to get back into the game safely when others are saying that you should be playing golf (blech!)
1. Train more often, but less intensely
The second part sounds wrong but hear me out. It's better for you to train 20 times and progress 1 km each time then to train once and blow yourself out , and never come back. I have seen a few blue belts who have stopped training, return once to great fanfare..and drop out once again, never to be seen.
I think what you need to do is set a goal in terms of quantity of classes or sessions and reach that. At then end, you'll find that just through sheer doggedness in coming to each class - you'll achieve something. This year, my goal was to come to 20 open mat sesssions. Compared to 2007, where my attendance was sporadic and depended on whether I "felt like it"; the improvement in my game has been noticeable.
2. Don't be afraid to go back into 1st gear
As I have said before, an instructor usually concentrates on his top students and at that pace; leaving the slower ones disheartened when they can't keep up. Bugger that. He hasn't got your body, your aches and your pains. And he won't be paying for your medical bill for ibuprofen either.
If the pace is too fast and potentially damaging for you, don't be afraid to pull back and slow down.
3. Leave the memories in the Kodak box
Guys being guys, we want to believe that we will remain invincible and potent forever. It's related to a fear of death, but I'll save that for my religious blog. Consequently, we seek to relive your past glorious moments again and again. So, we kind of replay that line from Eve 6's song " Here's to the night we felt alive" ad infinitum
This sounds brutal; leave them. Save them for the occassional talk cock session when you've had a few bears at the pub. But it's over. And once over, it will never happen again. As in Ikebana, the arranged flowers are beautiful; but they are essentially dead, disconnected from their roots. Their decline is assured.
So too the past glories. Find new ones, or new vistas when you roll. Don't be punch-drunk Pauly at that rundown gym going " I coudda been a contender!". Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, so..get drunk today! :-)
Before I go all Deepak Chopra..
4. Train with a brain
It's not a bad thing to engage your brain. It means that you have a plan, a schedule and course charted. If it fails, so what? At least you tried to go somewhere. This means asking questions like "what do i want to work on", "how long?" and "what do i want to achieve?"
Leave the romantic "mind of no mind, train like a man without a care in the world" b.s behind. Show me a guy like that , and I'll show you a guy with crippling mortgages, a neglected wife and kids and unwashed clothes