From letting go of comparison to building confidence and appreciating the moment, there’s a lot to embrace when exercising by yourself, writes AFL umpire Chelsea Roffey.
Relinquish the curse of comparison
It became evident early in my goal umpiring career that comparison would be a source of frustration and grief if I let it rule my thinking.
While I could aim to emulate the fitness approaches of umpires I admired, their skill of reading the play and positioning for decisions, I was never going to replicate the traditional template of the men around me.
I had to find my own way of owning my space, appearing assertive and delivering my message convincingly.
On the training track, I resolved to be competitive. The boys seemed to get faster and stronger every year. I dedicated myself to building strength and fitness, but it was equally important to recover well and manage my energy to step up on game day, and in all aspects of my life. Comparison was a curse if I allowed it to interfere with what I needed to be at my personal best.
Letting go of comparison has been a lesson in looking at what I can control and focusing my energy there.
Exercising alone gives me the space to write my internal script and build on the version of myself that I want to see.”
We are surrounded by opportunities to compare, judge and assess ourselves against others. Often, it doesn’t end well. If comparison is bringing you down, perhaps it’s time for a solo-powered confidence boost.
True self-discipline recognises the importance of inner balance and a holistic respect for personal needs.
Sometimes showing up is a victory in itself. Feeling tired, rundown or emotionally exhausted may call for a lighter touch – swapping a long, slow run for yoga or a walk; reducing the length of a high intensity session to maintain quality of effort.
At other times, energy is high and I relish the feeling of giving it a solid crack.
It’s a misconception to think exercise needs to be forced or suffered through. I value the time spent alone, listening to my body, developing an intuitive sense for when to push through and when to pull back.
Choosing to show up for yourself in this way is pretty addictive. There’s lightness and playfulness to movement that comes from releasing the burden of having to perform or reach a certain standard.
Perhaps surprisingly, showing self-care often encourages effort rather than complacency. Feeling good taps into a sense of joy that is inherently motivating.
Take command of quality
When I exercise solo, an 80 per cent effort is 80 per cent of my effort, not 80 per cent of the effort expected of a lithe young man at the peak of his fitness (the risk of group exercise scenarios).
I dictate my own level of work and recovery.
If I’m sprinting, I leave enough time between sets to produce the highest quality repetition I can do. I focus on my technique, posture, and breathing. I find my rhythm and relax into the movement.
Of course, all of these things are possible in the presence of others. It’s just a lot easier (and enjoyable) when not eating someone else’s dust in the process!
Time alone offers permission to set my pace, building self-awareness around the skills I’m developing with complete respect for where I’m at now.
A reflective state of mind
To move is to meditate.
Some days, it’s pure focus. Senses sharpen, the endorphins kick in and breathing hits a rhythm.
I’m mesmerised by the vivid green in the grass, the whispering foliage of the trees, the settling dew and warm billows of breath evaporating into the crisp afternoon air.
It all feels so alive – the headspace is intoxicating.
Other days, I’m happy for my mind to wander. Thoughts surface from where they’ve been marinating in my subconscious. As though the mechanics of my body have kicked my brain into gear, solutions appear and my thinking organises itself. I make mental notes to write down when I get home.
It’s an efficient marriage between mind and body, this reflective state of mind.
Last updated: March 3, 2021 at: 12:03 pm