Back in the 1980’s, a certain Jahangir Khan, arguably the greatest squash player was dominating the world of squash. Incredibly, he went five and a half years unbeaten. Yes you read correctly – five and a half years! Every professional squash player aspired to play like him. They yearned to uncover his training regime. Many rumours circulated, one of them being; six hours a day with a 10 mile run.
Ok let’s rewind 23 years to 1988 when a skinny, very naive 18 year old had just turned professional with a very steely, stubborn determination to mimic this ‘mythical’ training schedule. Let’s face it, if I wanted to be as good as him, I’d have to do the same… right? It was a very sound theory but sadly my six hours a day must have been nothing like Jahangir’s. I was convinced more was better and wouldn’t take a day off. I believed a day off was a wasted day. I pushed myself hard, day after day, week after week and inevitably ran myself into the ground both physically and mentally.
Looking back, it was ridiculous! I laugh about it now and sometimes find myself shaking my head when I witness other young squash professionals with the same naivety.
The ultimate goal should be to reach your potential; to make the most of the tools you’ve been blessed with. To achieve this goal, you must work with your body and not abuse it. The same applies if you wish to reach optimum performance in an upcoming tournament or match. You must continually assess and listen to your body during the weeks prior to the event.
So what do I mean when I say ‘listen to your body’?
Imagine you’ve just woke up after a couple of hard days of intense training. You’re body is so stiff and sore! Even after breakfast, it’s a huge effort and chore to psyche yourself up, to get your arse down to the club and soldier on as planned. Yesterday, you remember feeling tired but at least you had some spring in your legs. Today is different; your legs are dead, no spring!
This is your body screaming out at you – I’m tired, I need to rest! This is when you need to take stock, listen to your body and take that much needed rest.
You may think you are being weak minded but trust me – you’re not. Remember, you previously put in a couple of hard training days so it should come as no surprise to feel like you do. Take that rest day and then notice how your body feels the following day. You may find yourself chomping at the bit again.
It’s about quality training and quality rest – the rest is just as important as the training. When you train hard your muscles breakdown and then require enough time to recover and rebuild stronger. Without quality rest, your muscles will not have sufficient strength to push yourself hard enough in your quality sessions; your progression and improvement will decelerate and quite often stagnate.
Your body tells you everything you need to know if you just learn to listen to it. I can’t emphasise this point highly enough from my painful experiences. It will serve you well if you want optimum performance. It’s an art worth learning – your abused body will appreciate it and will respond if you treat it with some TLC (tender love and care)!