The single greatest lesson in athletics and sporting activities -- is learning to recover, or recovery ability. That enables one to deal with any situation, and in doing so, improving their subsequent ability.
When one no longer can, or even shows an interest in doing so anymore, than improvement is no longer possible -- and permanent, irreversible decline the only thing possible. This quality, more than any other, differentiates and distinguishes people into the thriving -- from the dying, the winners from the losers.
It doesn't have to be a competition -- but each individual's choice -- of whether to get better, or not to. That ability to improve to accommodate ever-greater challenges, is what we all hope to achieve -- implied or intentionally. If one runs a marathon, but never recovers from that effort and instead goes into irreversible injury and decline, or worse gets killed, that achievement is moot -- although admittedly, discovering one's ultimate limits. Obviously, that is the point of no return -- and the preference, is never to go past that point -- as long as one lives. Again, a moot point.
The only time one desires to "go there," is when there is no choice, and it is necessary for absolute survival. Those opportunities come frequently enough -- for one not to have to program them as a regular occurrence in their lives -- as the foolish think is necessary, often to "prove" themselves of continued viability. In that way, many bring about their own premature end -- rather than increasing and enhancing their survival chances. That also fairly describes what we call "aging," or decreasing fitness for continued survival -- let alone thriving in their environment, and getting better at it.
Recovery ability is what makes it possible -- and indicates the direction one wishes to continue -- and avoid the direction that diminishes those chances. And in whatever age, time and condition one is in, there is always that choice and action available to them. That is what life is. So to think otherwise, is already the beginning of the end -- when one claims they have little or no choice. They can change that.
That is the meaning and purpose of every life -- and if not, or it doesn't matter, then shortly one will be dead, and it will not matter. That is the division between the living and the dead -- to the extent that it matters, and one should be clear about that -- and then everything else arises from that. That is the basic assumption upon which one proceeds to do everything else.
The results of that thinking, is self-evident truth. One doesn't need to be convinced otherwise. Yet many seem to go to great lengths to persuade themselves and others, that what is obvious to everybody else, is not true. Frequently, that is to say that one is getting better, when one is obviously getting worse -- and then one is on the slippery slope where nothing is ever as it seems. That is Alice in Wonderland. But one doesn't have to go there -- or read the book -- to see those manifestations in everyday life and situations.
The trick is determining how accurately the perception matches and meshes with the reality -- which is to observe the true as the truth, and the false as the false, and to be able to tell that difference -- and not be dependent on someone else to tell them so, and correct them. That dependence, is always fatal.