Page 13

Leading Medicine Magazine, Vol 7, No 1 - 2013

n ancient days, they were the gods who walked the earth, the titans whose feats of strength were immortalized in tales handed down through generations. They have swung swords and baseball bats, thrown spears and footballs. I And they have always run: simple, fast and free, into the future and forever. They are the athletes, the real-life superheroes who seem to defy gravity and transcend mortality with rippling muscles and mythical reflexes. People dream to be like them: STRONG, FAST AND SEEMINGLY AGELESS. How do these humans evolve into such perfect specimens? Are they born with natural ability, or do they determine at some point they will trade childhood for an obsession that one day will turn them into an elite athletic adult? Experts will assure us, it’s a little bit of both. And yet — there is something more. Yes, there is training and an almost-scary fixation on performance. And yes, it helps to be born with the right combination of talent and physical attributes. One also needs a spark, a desire burning in the heart that leads one to become an athletic competitor. With that drive, athletes can develop superior physical skills and excel on the playing field of their choice. But in recent years, athletes have uncovered other ways to gain an edge — some are illegal, unfair or simply unsportsmanlike. The real edge, people have discovered, is knowledge. Learning about how their bodies work, the fuel that keeps them going and the habits to embrace or avoid is essential to modern athletes and nearly as important as physical training and practice. What they know is what we can learn. FOOD FOR THOUGHT Perhaps no one embodies the modern, 21st-century athlete more perfectly than Arian Foster, a running back for the Houston Texans. Since signing with the team in 2009, Foster has become one of the National Football League’s premier running backs. He rushed for more than 1,000 yards in his first two full seasons with the Texans and was invited to the Pro Bowl each year. And early in the 2012 football season, Foster set a historic mark: he surpassed 5,000 yards rushing and receiving in his 40th game, becoming the third-fastest player to do so, behind only Edgerrin James (36 games) and Eric Dickerson (39 games). Yet Foster is unconventional among his professional peers. He scoots around the Texans’ Reliant Stadium facilities on a Segway, deftly maneuvering among giant teammates. He writes poetry and thinks deeply about everything he is asked; after all, he majored in philosophy at the University of Tennessee. Attempts to fit him into the conventional image of a pro football player can exasperate and amuse Foster. He is quick to point out, “That’s one of the clichés everybody uses.” But he is also quick with a laugh and a fresh observation. “People ask: what advice would I give to a young person?” Foster says. “I would say to ask yourself, ‘Why do I want to do this?’ When you are satisfied with the ‘why,’ you never really have to answer to anyone else. Look in the mirror and be satisfied with what you see.” Going into the 2012 football season bedecked with honors and the promise of another trip to the playoffs for the Texans, Foster unwittingly touched off a firestorm this summer when he casually announced on Twitter he was now a vegan. He gave up red meat and dairy in June, working the new diet into his overall discipline. Leading Medicine • Volume 7, Number 1 7 C O V E R S T O R Y


Leading Medicine Magazine, Vol 7, No 1 - 2013
To see the actual publication please follow the link above