A Day in a Life of an Athlete: The Real Deal

With athletes, there is more than meets the eye. When the lights went off after a game, a magazine photo shoot, press conference, or commercial advertisement athletes lead a different life than the rest of us—and it’s far from easy.

There’s no doubt that the life of a professional athlete is comfortable, if not luxurious. However, their daily routines may not be as easy as you think. Every player should be able to learn and adapt discipline, determination, and patience on top of their crazy work-out routines all of which under the scrutiny of their specific coaches— and the public. Not easy is an understatement

Physical Training Routine
In his book, Open: An Autobiography, Andre Agassi, one of the most renowned tennis players in the world, shared his life as a world-celebrated tennis player and how he hated the game ever since he started. But with strict “coaching” from his father, he started hitting 2500 balls each day on their backyard-turned-into-tennis-court at a young age of 7. It was also at this age that becoming the world’s number 1 tennis player is expected of him.
Christiano Ronaldo, forward for Spanish club, Real Madrid, one of the few players who scored most goals (69) in a single calendar year for club and country, and the most expensive footballer in history is known for being devoted to his training routine. He practices around 5 times in a week, 3-4 hours a day, in Real Madrid training camp, Valdebebas, depending on the team’s game schedule that week.

  1. 3-4 hours a day, 5 times a week, to ensure less than 10% of body fat.
  2. 25-30 mins of running for state cardio
  3. Short-period, high-intensity sprinting drills.
  4. Technical drills to improve skills and ball control.
  5. Gym exercises to develop specific muscles and total body strength.
  6. Strict diet plan

In an article from www.telegraph.com.uk, Jemma Lowe, a British international butterfly swimmer and record holder shared her daily routine to reach her career goals:

  • 7:00 am- 2000 meter warm-up of mainly front crawl and backstroke.
  • 7:30 am – Main morning training set of 3000 meters using butterfly stroke.
  • 8:30 am- Another 1000 meter set with either butterfly and backstoke.
  • :00 am- Stretching.
  • 9:15am – Circuit and ab work out in the gym.
  • 10:00 am – 3:00pm- Break.
  • 3:00pm- Start of afternoon high-intensity training with 2000 meters, then a main session of 3,000 meters, using butterfly strokes.
  • 5:00pm- Cool down, stretching.
  • 5:30pm- End of training.

Looking at Andre Agassi’s, Christiano Ronaldo’s and Jemma Lowe’s daily training routines is enough to conclude that professional athletes’ training are as vigorous, as brutal. Serena Williams would not be able to get to the top without sacrifices, nor would Dwayne Wade or Tim Tebow.
Physical training and coaching plays an important role on their success. Without it, their opponents will immediately see their weakness and go straight for the win. Mental conditioning is also an important part of an athlete’s training.
It is vital that every athlete conditions his/her mind to overcome undesirable situations both on and off court. For example, winning a game comes down to who wants it more, and who can control a series of emotions while playing. More so, it is highly important for one to believe in himself to win.
A perfect balance between physical endurance and mental conditioning is what makes an athlete dangerous to his competitors.

Real Life Struggles
But no matter how much they were trained to control a game, some athletes forget to control their life. And this is where the real struggle comes in. They may be able to endure high intensity training workout, but not as much as with criticisms made publicly.
The real struggle lies beneath their physical and mental strength. It is their personal decisions, failures, mistakes and choices that they make every day.

Lance Armstrong, consecutive winner of the Tour de France from 1999-2005 made a conscious decision to take banned performance-enhancing drugs during the course of his career. This admission disqualified him from all of those races, and banned him from competitive cycling for the rest of his life.

In 2012, a day before Dwayne Wade was set to play Game 3 of the NBA finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he had to face a very difficult situation. Wade’s boys were scheduled to take a flight from Chicago to Miami so that he can spend the entire Father’s day with him the next day. However, when Wade’s sister came to pick up the boys at his ex-wife’s house, she got no answer at home, and after 8 hours with still no answer, sheriffs were called to the scene.

In an interview with Oprah, Dwayne Wade shared this experience in which he felt “worried, nervous, and scared.” Despite what just happened the day before, Dwayne Wade was still seen playing Game 3 with his boys’ safety at the back of his mind. His sons arrived safely in Miami a day after in which he described as “his Father’s day gift.ˮ

Price of fame

Other than personal life struggles and accepting the consequences of their choices, there’s one thing athletes need to deal with and that’s fame.
Fame can either be a protagonist or an antagonist, both of which is overwhelming. When they were just starting out, athletes only have to deal with their training routines and personal life, now they have to deal with fame as well.
It’s fame that could bring headlines about their latest DUI, failed relationships, or divorce battles. It’s fame that gives the impression that anybody can make a comment on their personal life, or on how they play their game. It’s fame that could make them self-conscious on almost anything. And if not handled very well, fame, can mess people up.

What we always miss out

When we think about an athlete’s daily routine, we immediately think of their physical training. We automatically relate it to their success, so we think about their fame, privileges, or media appearances, who they’re currently dating, etc. It becomes fairly easy to overlook what they really have to go through the moment they wake up.
We tend to forget that these athletes have been training all their life to get to where they are now. And while most kids their age are interested on games and merriment, these kids have submitted themselves to training camps, spending most of their days executing their training routines. They live it. They breathe it. They accept it
We forget that while they may have everything they can ask for, one thing may have been deprived of them— a carefree childhood. Sometimes, the creation of a strong athletic identity can lead to a vulnerable sense of self.
Under the straight grand slams, MVPs, championships, and gold medals these athletes are as human as we are, and as lost as we can be. But while the rest of us have the freedom to do what we want, they may not have the same liberty. Some of these athletes would trade a day of our lives to take a break from theirs.
To break free of their familiar routine of disappointment and depression after losing an important match, break free from training routines, diet plans, media bullying, public scrutiny, constant pressure, and cutthroat competitions.

If we veer away from an athlete’s career, their real routine may not be as different as ours. What we think as the “high life” may not be as glamorous as it seems.

Their routines, the real ones, could include the constant dilemma of doing what they want to do rather than what is expected of them—something all of us are very familiar with. Routines could also mean
moving on from a series of disappointments and frustrations, winning over fears, finding inspirations, searching for meaning and purpose.

What sets them off from us is that, while they are facing all these, they’re also working to be the number 1 athlete on their sport.

The Silver Lining
Regardless of how difficult an athlete’s life can be, there are things that can balance things out—the ability to help and inspire.

Most successful athletes today have set up foundations to offer help. This may be for a better education, or a better life. These foundations can help people across all ages and race. Millions of dollars from an athlete’s paycheck go toward their own foundations or if not, to different causes throughout the world.

David Beckham, for example supports a lot of programs, particularly UNICEF in which he helps fight against AIDS. He also has his own charity, which provides wheelchairs to kids who needs it.

Serena Williams has received awards for her charity work, she’s also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has travelled as far as Ghana in order to provide better education to the children.

Tiger Woods, despite his controversies, runs the Tiger Woods Foundation, a foundation which provides college education to those that are unfortunate enough to have one.

Andre Agassi managed to bribe his way out of education because of his skills at the age of 14, but this lack of education inspired him to build The Andre Agassi Foundation for Education.

Between Goals and Dreams

There seems to be a lot going on with an athlete’s life and yet no matter how many times they’ve thought of it, a part of them refuses to just drop their bags and quit.
We will never seem to know what keeps them going. Maybe it’s the adrenaline rush right before a game and the feeling of elation after winning it.

It could simply be their passion toward their sport. Their goals that seem to be getting bigger the longer they stay on their career. Their dreams that they believed they couldn’t have reached, but did anyway. That feeling of happiness when they knew they inspired a million of fans just because they played a great game. That unforgettable feeling of knowing that just by going on and by being there, they can inspire people to dream, and go for what they want. That magnificent honour of being able to prove to millions of people that even in the face of adversity, you can still become your very best.

Between their goals and dreams, athletes owe it to themselves to be the best that they can be. To push themselves to their limit and give meaning to what they have always worked for almost all of their lives.

Athlete’s Daily Routine “Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside — remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.” This quote from Charles Bukowski pretty much sums up the life of an athlete. Of how many times they’ve doubted themselves, and the many times they have won over it.

An athlete’s daily routine does not only include the number of push ups, kilometres of running, and hours of training they do in a day. It does not only pertain to their schedules after being number 1 on their sport, just as it is not their wins, medals, and awards that define them as a successful human being.

An athlete’s daily routine is a struggle of balancing their personal life and career, of ducking out from terrible headlines, which could hurt themselves and their family. It is knowing themselves truthfully amidst fame, tight schedules, and constant pressure. It is about expressing themselves in their own little way, which might be mistaken of as rebellion. It is getting up slowly as they can after a terrible personal problem or controversy. Simply put: It is as familiar, painful, joyful, and rewarding as ours.

It sure is not easy to live life with so much to prove. And this is what makes athletes truly remarkable. The way they handle their lives, not without mistakes, but with dedication, fearlessness, and confidence—something we could always apply on our own daily routines.