This is the first part of the "Healthy living for club cricketers" series. To go to part two click here.
What has healthy living got to do with cricket? Let me tell you a story to illustrate.
There was a time not so long ago when I wasn't the picture of health. My diet was poor, I was overweight, I rarely trained and my cricket was suffering.
Even worse, I didn't feel well. I might not have been sick, but I was never on top of things. I would be sluggish in the afternoons, coughs and colds would linger for weeks and my skin was bad. It was the kind of low level stuff you don't really notice grinding you down every day and making life tough.
It was a far cry from the fit and healthy 21 year old me who left University with a shiny new degree in sport and fitness. It was a case of 'do as I say, not as I do' for the people I was training during that time. I was being hypocritical.
Then the 2005 Ashes happened.
As a dyed-in-the-wool Englishman I rejoiced. Life was good again. It made me want to play cricket to my best. Looking at the supremely fit and healthy England side I realised that I needed to start again from scratch: Become a healthy cricketer.
I went back to my degree notes, poured over the latest research and read the books of trainers and nutritionists on the cutting edge. The more I worked the more I realised being a good cricketer is not just about what happens when you cross the boundary line.
It's about your whole life.
The 24 hour cricketer
It made perfect sense. Why would you perform well if you mistreated your body most of the time?
Being at your best requires you to be free from injury, strong, fast and alert. A healthy lifestyle gives you all those things, but only if you work at being healthy 24 hours a day.
There are other benefits as well as increases in sports performance.
- Improved self confidence. If you look and feel better you will be more confident in yourself. Whether bigger biceps or a smaller waist, a healthy lifestyle is the way to go.
- Better health and function. Being healthy reduces your risk of preventable diseases in the long term and makes you more resistant to the 'low level' daily ailments that I was suffering from back in 2005. It's something Greg Chappell experienced and wrote about in his book too.
The hard journey to health
I had no reason not to try back them, so I took the plunge and changed my life. I wasn't easy. I worked full time, didn't earn much and had a young family.
I stuck with it though; I trusted the benefits would outweigh the costs.
Now I have never been healthier and I have never been a better cricketer even though I am in my mid 30's. It's still hard to stick with it sometimes but it's a habit now. The players I have worked with over the years have had similar positive experiences.
This stuff works and I have proven it.
As I write this it's the start of a new year. Now would be the perfect time for you to become a healthy cricketer too. (In fact, any time is the perfect time. Why wait?)
How do you do it? Start by making the commitment.
If you decide to do that then I'll show you how you can become healthier this coming week.
To go to part two click here.
Image credit: chris_jd