Meyler keeping it simple with positive attitude to lockdown

The treadmill in the Meyler shed still works, Conor is happy to report. For just under four hours last Monday week, his father and former Tyrone footballer Seánie pounded the machine to complete a marathon and raise funds for nursing staff in Enniskillen’s South West Acute Hospital.
Meyler keeping it simple with positive attitude to lockdown
‘Training by myself now, I’m trying to do that extra bit,’ says Conor Meyler, who is staying in shape at his home in Omagh. Picture: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The treadmill in the Meyler shed still works, Conor is happy to report. For just under four hours last Monday week, his father and former Tyrone footballer Seánie pounded the machine to complete a marathon and raise funds for nursing staff in Enniskillen’s South West Acute Hospital.

Inspired by his wife Paula who works in the hospital’s Covid-19 unit, Seánie raised over £20,000.

As for Conor, he couldn’t but be motivated, even if he currently has no target to aim for in his football season.

“I’m actually quite enjoying it,” he insists. “The only thing that’s difficult at times is training by yourself. Not knowing when the next match makes it awkward and then trying to plan your week.

“For us as footballers, the sport really took over your whole week. You made every decision around your

football because you knew you had a game at the weekend and it really took control over your work life, social life — everything.

"Then you lose that sense of purpose, and I think this has taught me, along with a lot of footballers, that there is a lot more to life than football, and you sort of stepping back makes you realise there is more going on.

“It makes me enjoy the simplicity of even being at home away from the fast-paced world. In sport, you’re only as good as your last game, and it moves on very quickly. Newspapers will talk about your game for a day or two and then somebody else does something and there’s another game.

“When it comes to training, how you’re motivated for it is obviously difficult because you don’t have your team-mates to help you and you don’t have a game to be motivated for.”

Meyler’s experience in athletics is standing to him now, he believes. “I would have done a lot of cross-country and athletics when I was younger and it’s very individually motivated where you were training by yourself.

“You choose a team sport for the camaraderie and craic you have with your team-mates.

"If you have your team-mates around you, it’s easier to push yourself to do a certain amount of runs or reps or whatever.

"When you’re training by yourself, it’s a lot more taxing mentally and I’d say it’s easier for boys to ease off and miss a session or not hit the time or the amount of reps (when they are alone).

“My running background would help me in that regard, and again seeing my dad doing that run, he would have bred that mental toughness into me. Training by myself now, I’m trying to do that extra bit.”

Meyler’s positive attitude to the lockdown extends to his work as a primary school teacher. Last week, he posted an article on LinkedIn entitled ‘Back to Basics’, on presenting what is going on in a constructive fashion for children.

“It can be difficult to explain to people that there are some positives to take out of this, because everybody just associates it with negativity.

"The big thing is the message we’re preaching to children. Children are like sponges, they will pick up what their parents say and what they hear on the news regardless of it being relevant or factual.

“A lot of it is saying this is a catastrophe and the worst thing that could ever happen.

"That’s an opinion, yet people are taking it as a fact and the more that message is spreading, the more it is adopted by children who speak to other children and it’s associated with negativity and their behaviour becomes negative then, which in turn affects their actions.

Meyler: 'When it comes to training, how you’re motivated for it is obviously difficult because you don’t have your team-mates to help you and you don’t have a game to be motivated for.'
Meyler: 'When it comes to training, how you’re motivated for it is obviously difficult because you don’t have your team-mates to help you and you don’t have a game to be motivated for.'

“The thing is there is definitely some positivity we can take from all this. Providing that you’re safe and well, there is a simplicity you can enjoy. Things that require no or not a lot of money.

"Things that you can do by yourself, things like reading a book or baking. The likes of just getting outside and doing some exercise.

"The more we can appreciate family time and people around the table, taking time to slow down from this fast-paced world that we live in and realising what we are doing right now is what’s important.”

Meyler is convinced that children will be all the better for what is happening, providing it is framed in the best way possible.

“It goes back to people’s autonomy. They feel like they will only be appreciated in a social setting, and children will feel the same.

"They miss their friends and playing with their friends and people in school praising them and their friends being accepting of them. When they’re on their own, who is there to do that for them?

“If they can learn to appreciate time by themselves and away from screens, that whenever these situations arise again — and they will face challenges in the future — how they recognise a challenge will be a big thing.

"When they are faced with negativity later in life, do they see it as an opportunity or a challenge that they can get over, or do they see it as a catastrophe and just crawl back into their shell? That’s my message.

"The more challenges they face, the more resilient they are going to become and I think they have to face a challenge before they become resilient. That’s what I’m trying to preach.”

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