by Don Heatrick

For a number of years now, my Dad has been suffering from dementia… and we all know how that one goes.

I’m not sharing this to garner sympathy. This most certainly is not a post about me. I’m sharing this because I hope to inspire.

This is all just context to illustrate my final point.

I spend Saturday mornings looking after my Dad for a few hours while my Mum has the opportunity to get out of the house, spend a bit of time not having to worry about my Dad, and usually get some much-needed groceries.

Although my Dad certainly has good days and bad days, this weekend he was less responsive than usual… there’s a marked decline, that strangely seems both rapid, and drawn out at the same time.

I hope with some better rest he’ll pick up again a little, but I’m under no illusion that I’m witnessing the man that raised me slip away from us.

Everybody, in fact everything passes away. There is nothing special in this, it’s the nature of physical reality. I’ve absolutely come to terms with this… and I’ve previously spoken about accepting my own death too.

But something must have been left ticking away in my subconscious, and after a little over 2-hours sleep, I awoke again in the early hours with my mind whirring.

Getting back to sleep wasn’t happening, so I meditated… for around 4-hours.

First, I focused on my breath, and then I entered what can only be described as “rapid download mode” – where I was bombarded with information from wherever it comes (it certainly wasn’t me).

I eventually opted to get up (stop disturbing my wife Deborah), and get started with my day – in the dark – just past 6am.

I run our dog, Logan on Sunday mornings. So, I strapped on the headtorch, tethered Logan to me on his Canicross harness, and headed out into the dark and the rain.

As we trudged around the fields in the pitch black alone, the rain strobed through the beam of light from the head torch – creating a starfield effect, like jumping to hyperspace in Star Wars.

The pace was slow – I could hardly see where I was going, and deep puddles threatened to soak my socks with every step…

And with rhythmical breath, my run turned into a moving meditation.

I was once again flooded with “life and purpose” inspiration.

Way too much to share right now…

But there’s just one thing I wanted to share with you as a fighter:

As I ran in the pitch-black across the fields in the rain, my path illuminated by the shaft of light beaming from my head-torch…

Every outbreath billowed a cloud of steam into the beam of light.

Visible evidence I was alive, still breathing.

You only get so many of these breaths. I value each and every one. Especially those I clamber for when pushing myself through physical exertion.

Some never find this joy in breathing hard, some never “get it” – but you do.

The physical is finite. Don’t waste it.

When things get tough in your fight camp, and then again in your fight… you’re alive!

This is discomfort, at worst a little pain. Breathe.

Relish these breaths. One day your body won’t have use for them anymore… but right now, they stoke your furnace.

And you’re the only one in charge of this. Don’t waste it.

As we finish up one decade, and push on into the next – like our ancestors have always done before us… Take what they’ve given you and use it well. Finish 2019 strong and make 2020 count big time.

Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

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