As a pseudo-adult athlete (yes, I am a pseudo-adult and a pseudo-athlete) I have discovered that many adult athletes are afflicted with a little known condition called Neurotic Adult-Athlete Disorder. This can be a debilitating disorder that hinders many adult athletes from enjoying competition.
NAAD is common in highly competitive, slightly insecure adult athletes who compete in individual sports such as running, biking, and triathlons. An athlete with NAAD (often referred to as “a NAAD”) has symptoms that are often magnified when an athlete is confronted with failure, which can manifest into excuses and rationalizations, fixations on certain inconsequential events during the race, and inappropriate comments about other competitors.
Allow me to provide a case study of a NAAD from last weekend.
I was 40 miles through a 50-mile bike race, and I knew that there was no way I was catching anyone ahead of me. My race was essentially over. I wasn’t going to win or even be close. There was no glory to be had. I just wanted to finish and grab a post-race beverage with my teammates.
As I was beginning the final climb, three other riders caught me, one was a NAAD. He instantly distinguished himself when he shouted, “I am cramping see you later” to one of the other riders that was climbing the hill faster than he could.
I continued to ride at my pace, and the rider with NAAD dropped back, but he caught me a few minutes later. He quickly informed me that he has “been sick for two weeks” and that the faster guy who left him on the hill – and also apparently lost a considerable amount of weight – “has never beaten him.”
While gasping for air, the NAAD didn’t stop talking (another symptom of this condition). He asked me my age, discovered that he was 20 years older, and he “joked” that I should be “embarrassed” to have a guy “his age” stay with me on a hill. This comment was followed by a comparison of the value of our bikes, two more references to his age, the information that he was “saving himself” because was racing again the following day, and one more monster cramping episode.
Just as we reached the top of the four-mile climb, I heard the NAAD say, “I have nothing left.” However, a couple of minutes later, he zipped past me at full speed before I passed him a few miles down the road on the final short climb to the finish. As I went by him, he again referenced his “cramps” and then actually cursed me for being younger.
As if this interaction wasn’t fulfilling enough, at the post race party I ran into my new neurotic friend where he proceeded to inform me that he had actually beaten me because his group started a couple of minutes after mine, which was not made up by the 30 seconds that I finished ahead of him.
I said nothing, smiled and walked away thinking to myself, “maybe a psychiatrist should set up next to the massage tent.”