I hate running laps. Always have and will. There was a time I was young enough, though. I’d sprint ten before training, as hard as I could, finishing at a crawl. Just to prove nothing.
I’m older than that now, but realised something long ago. Age doesn’t mean that you’ve earned the right to do less. You have to do more, to keep up.
My speed is gone, not that I ever had much. Now I’ve got to grind other players down. The sport, the team, never have or will owe me anything. If I’m going to play, I’ve got to earn my spot. Be of value.
Being old does have its advantages, though. It’s so much easier to reach peek fitness than it used to be, because your peek fitness is so much lower than what it once was! Three hard weeks will do it.
Mostly, though, it’s in the mind.
If you think you’re too old, you will be. If you worry you can’t outmuscle them, you won’t. If you doubt, they’ll beat you. If you think you don’t have to chase, soon, your body will forget how to and you’ll never will again.
So much of football is hunger.
Last week I was running laps surrounded by a yellow view made of rolling, dead grass – dairy hills in drought. Lap after lap I watched the dryness of the land. It’s heartbreaking. And has destroyed so much of my work, and friend’s livelihoods, and made the ovals rock hard, everywhere.
It’s going to be a mean season in country footy.
I’ll be 46 this year. The idea of it seems ludicrous! I still rememeber David Segal from one of my first teams. He was a club champion. Straight lines, solid, Fred Flintstone of a backman, returned to help the twos with numbers.
Past his best, he fumbled often, and ran with is neck stretched like a turtle, as if his head was willing the body to keep up. None of us young bucks knew what to make of it. I’ll be about ten years older this winter than he was.
I had a shit season last year, only played one, maybe two games where I seized it and shook it. I’m determined to not let that be my finish, even if it’s only Div 2 reserves these days. Hence, the extra laps, and the stupid thoughts and fears that go through my mind while running them before training.
Like: Damn, I wish the canteen still sold chips!
I’ve got to keep playing until Nutsy retires, so I can finish my career with No.20.
Where is Ziggy now?
The kid I played on in last week’s practice match was exactly 30 years younger than me! What if a fight broke out? I’d have to spank him!
Man, I hope I don’t run with my neck out like a turtle!
I probably should retire, but it just feels so damn good playing Australian Rules Football!
Good luck to everyone, of every age. Young, old, male, female, immigrant, indigenous, convict, poor, rich, from the Outback and cities. From the spectators, to the mums and dads and players and kids on the boundary.
No matter how hard life gets, for those two or so hours a week we have the chance to be invincible.