Sunday, April 17, 2016

Newfound limits

A couple of weeks ago, during a preseason soccer game, I pulled my right hamstring sprinting flat out on an overlapping run, which was a shame, because I had gotten past their striker, then the midfielder, and even the wing back, and all that was between me and the goal was their sweeper and keeper (both of them admittedly quite decent). It was a moment of considerable potential glory. And then my left calf seized up, followed immediately by the right hamstring.

So I nursed them and went kind of easy on them, went to practice a couple of times to play my way into shape, played another game. Then yesterday, I had gone forward, had an opportunity to strike the ball from not too far outside the opponent's box. I wound up and struck the ball well, and felt a vicious pain in my hammy.  I gave a good shriek, and was told subsequently that I cursed loudly.

I think I am starting to see some patterns here. My first season back I strained ligaments at the top of my quad from kicking goal kicks. My second season I sprained some fingers after leaving my feet to make a fantastic defensive play running at tippy-top speed. And now this.

I keep thinking that individual muscle groups are getting accustomed to playing flat out, while at the same time I'm getting a little education on the holistic limits of my body. I had no idea shooting the ball hard would mess up a hamstring like that. Never did before. I wonder why?

Josh says that he no longer kicks the ball hard, period. In general I have a hard time restraining myself. Take yesterday for example. I've never scored a goal from the area where I was shooting from, though, in principal, there's no good reason why I shouldn't. I can kick the ball pretty durned hard, and if I could just put it on target... well, it would be frickin awesome.

But my body has newfound limits, or at least at the level of conditioning where I am. The real question, then, is why I care. What does it matter to me that I ever score on a long shot? If I can acknowledge the danger of it, why can't I get it through my head that my body, at least as currently constituted, resists a wide range of actions carried out at 100%?  Why can't I learn to operate at 85%?

Part of it, I think, is that I still haven't fully overcome growing up scrawny and not all that athletic. Puberty was immensely helpful, yes. I became an athlete, but most of my athletic success was on account of gross motor skills (speed, jumping, fearlessness, kicking the ball long), not skill and control. Or at least that's how I conceived of myself.

So I am loathe to let that go, even though I know that I have to graduate into a more statesmanlike role. Net net, I have to let go of the idea of chasing the dream, the highlight sequence for bedtime in which I strike the perfect strike or run the perfect run. Which is all the harder when the very idea of playing sports like soccer when already greying is holding on to the glory of adolescence.

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