Days Like This

 

The last few weeks have been an absolute whirlwind! The overwhelming joy that I felt after winning an All-Ireland final and reaching that ultimate goal that you set out to achieve the year prior in the dark month of November, is incredible. The sense of pride and happiness you feel is something I’ll never forget and I realise how fortunate I am to be one of the guys that gets the chance to experience this come the third week in September in Croke Park.

The immediate aftermath of winning an All-Ireland final is something extremely special, it is filled with visits to schools, hospitals and various social celebrations in Ireland and further afield. All of these events are a joy to attend, it allows you the space and time to appreciate the fans and the support that is behind Dublin football and the GAA in general. It is the realisation that the GAA really is at the heart of all of our communities. The joy that these visits bring to so many people’s lives really makes you appreciate your time as a Dublin Inter County footballer. You realise that one day, not too far from now you will be one of these fans making the memories for the rising stars of Dublin football.

Making Memories 

Days like this Paul FlynnThree memories that will last forever:

  • The first was the lap of honour where Dublin fans cheered in the pouring rain and sang ‘C’mon you Boys in Blue’ for one last time this season. Sharing this moment with the fans was extraordinary, and I feel its so important to take a second and take in the moment there and then.
  • The second lasting memory was immediately after the game when the team returned to the dressing room. We danced around the 4 cups won in 2015 and sang to our hearts content sharing this surreal moment together. As to the song, Van Morrison, Days Like This.
  • Personally, probably the most rewarding and memorable day was when I got to bring Sam Maguire to all the local schools in Swords. The joy that this brought to so many kids makes it all worthwhile. After all, I was that kid back in 1995 when Paul Clarke brought Sam to our school and I remember it like it was yesterday.

What goes up must come down

Since the final there has been, what feels like, a certain void in my life. The constant 24/7 preparation of being a Dublin footballer is complete for one year and you then have to transition back into the club set up and try catch up on elements of your career that have been partially sacrificed to play at the top level. There comes with it a sense of sadness or disappointment that it is all over for one more year. For me, I enjoy the journey so much that when it ends, I feel something is missing from my life. This makes the transition difficult because you plan your life around training and preparation for games and then it’s suddenly, all complete. Box ticked.

I think this feeling also translates into the work environment, for people that may be working on a big project and once its complete or the culminating event is over they can find themselves asking —where to next?

After I have taken some time out to enjoy the celebrations, I find it useful to recalibrate, start to plan again and begin a new journey or a new project. I find it valuable to reflect on the year before moving on to the next challenge. Identify what went well, what you could improve on to build on your successes/ failures going forward. Then—and this I think is important—create a plan of attack by breaking down tasks into specific actions to reach future goals.

 

In some ways society today is not as physically active as it once was. My parents often say how easy we have things these days and when they were young they had to walk 3 miles to school or cycle 30 miles to work. It is only when you hear stories like that you stop and question why people get into their car and drive half a mile to the shop, or if there really is a need for five bus stops on a 1 km stretch of road.

Technology and general advances in our society have meant that life as we know it is certainly physically easier. We drive to work. We drive to the supermarket. We drive our kids to school. Yet the same time, I see more people than ever out running the streets, cycling, exercising in parks, taking part in boot camps and kettle-bell classes – So what is it that has actually changed?

I think this comes down to the fact that because people’s everyday lives are not as physical, they need to find an outlet for exercise elsewhere — the danger with this is that it becomes an individual choice,  an elective activity, and many people don’t participate.

 

So why choose physical activity?

PF action4

I often wonder what motivates people to engage in physical activity, is it for leisure and personal gains, or is it the constant public messages and campaigns shouting about the health benefits of being physically active? I would like to think most people are active for their own physical gains and enjoy stimulating the body and mind.

I know for me, I want to be fit and healthy to be able to perform on the field of play, to excel at my sport and push my body to the limit. This then has a ripple effect to being generally healthy in my life and that includes eating healthy and maintaining a healthy mind.

Although it might be easier for me to be healthy and maintain a healthy lifestyle due to structured training programs, accessibility to quality nutritional guidance and psychological support, I do believe everyone has the potential to benefit both physically and mentally from physical exercise.

Whether it’s a person wanting to lose weight or to get fit to enjoy a hobby more, once you engage in some form of exercise it doesn’t take long to see the physical, mental and emotional gains from it and more often than not it is the ‘feel good factor’ not to mention the ‘look good factor’ that keeps people engaged.

In saying this, keeping up your motivation and attendance can be tough. Planning is something I alluded to in a previous blog post and exercise is no different — it requires structure and planning.  Finding the time in the week to fit in your exercise is so important.  Sometimes you might have to get up earlier before work or fit it in at lunch or after work which can be hard and requires a lot of dedication and commitment but do fit it in and plan it into your weekly schedule because the gains are obvious.

Exercise makes you think.

Apart from all the well documented physical gains (heart health, reduce risk of certain cancers, better sleep), there is also strong research proving that exercise improves mental health.  When we go for a simple walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—most notably the brain. This has shown to have positive effects on improving memory, attention span and learning ability but there are also benefits of improved mood and mental well-being. The simple unconscious act of walking also allow has the added benefit of allowing our attention the freedom to wander and this is precisely the kind of mental state that studies have linked to innovative ideas and sparks of insight.

I know for certain my physical fitness effects my mental well-being, when I am fit and well and training hard my body is balanced—I feel energetic and productive! On the contrary, when I am out of shape and not training I feel lethargic and in a way my body and mind can shut down. Exercise gives the mind a break from over working and clears the head—that is why I love training in the morning before work, it really sets me up for the day.

The upsides are great, the weather (at the moment) is brilliant.  What else do you need!

See you out there.


Planning: To have it all!

There has been much debate in recent weeks surrounding the demands placed on inter county players,  the ever-increasing level of commitment required, and the subsequent impact that this is having on their careers and professional development. Typically a players playing career spans from 18 to their early 30’s, when an athlete is in their sporting […]