It takes a lot to be a professional athlete. Obviously there are the hours upon hours of intense training, the rigourous competition schedule, and the strict diets. On top of these physical and mental demands, the sporting Gods also demand sacrifice for success; free time, comfort food, alcohol, relationships, sleep, sex… they’re all fair game and you’ll have to be willing to give them up if you want to succeed.
In new data released by sporting powerhouse Oakley, the full demands of athlete life are much more apparent, warts and all. We now have an insight into exactly what the pro’s are giving up for the sake of their sporting success. And the obsession for their sport that follows.
So what exactly do you need to give up in order to reach the top, whether that is a world championship title, Olympic gold, or that elusive Oakley sponsorship? Turns out, a lot, and you’d want to hope that your gold medal kept you warm at night…
Maximizing time is everything for these athletes. Nearly two thirds of professional athletes wake up before 6am to ensure time for their sport according to the results, and 27 per cent rise before 4am to train.
Runners and triathletes are the earliest risers, with 72 per cent waking up before 6am to hit the roads.
Waking up early isn’t the only sleep to be cut. 40 per cent go to bed before 10pm each night (which actually seems pretty late… is that just us?!), and nearly a quarter start chasing the z’s bed before 9pm.
Commitment and obsession to your sport mean a 365-day commitment from top performing athletes. More than half the athletes surveyed have trained on their birthday, and 40 per cent have played their sport on a major holiday, like Christmas. In an incredible result to come from the survey, a whopping 15 per cent have even broken a sweat by training on their wedding day.
And vacations aren’t breaks when you’re a pro, and it’s more likely just an exotic location to train. 91 per cent of committed athletes who vacation participate in their sport while they’re away, spending up to a quarter of their vacation time training, on average.
In fact, apparently 21 per cent of employed athletes would give up two weeks of vacation, if it allowed them unlimited time to train.
If giving up your holidays wasn’t bad enough, it seems like you’re going to have to give up sex as well in order to reach the top of your game. One in five athletes would sacrifice sex for one month, and one third of the athletes surveyed have sacrificed romantic relationships for their sport.
Unfortunately gold doesn't always translate into actual gold. 29 per cent of athletes who have made sacrifices think they have given up financial success for athletic excellence, but it seems as though almost all of them would be willing to give up more. 88 per cent of committed athletes would even say farewell to the comforts of their daily lives too, if it meant sport could remain a top priority.