It’s a strange one, this triathlon game.
On the surface, it’s the dream. New week, new place, new people. But underneath, is it as easy as it looks?
4 weeks out from my next race. Arguably the biggest of my career so far, and one I’m really hungry to perform in.
I’ve just completed my third biggest training week, ever, and had my bike not thrown a wobbler, it could have been bigger!
4 weeks out, and the pre race jitters are really beginning to set in.
We all have it… that awful feeling that begins to set in… whether it’s for a work deadline, a big occasion, a new venture. We get cold feet, is this really the right decision? Is it what we want?
Not sure if the training has paid off, if all the sacrifice was worth it. I’ve worked harder than ever and put more into this winter than I ever have in the past. But so much will still come down to chance.
So far this year, I’ve been quite fortunate. I’ve been out of the country more than I’ve been in it, but that’s only making me more uncertain, more dis-satisfied.
The more we invest – the greater the hit if it doesn’t come off. And it is a gamble. All this added pressure, and I’m not even close to being a pro yet!
It’s easy to see how on the surface, I’ve got it quite easy. Floating around the globe, bit of training here, bit of training there. Never doing any work. But in fact, at the moment, at this stage in my life, everything is the most uncertain it’s ever been.
I look around my closest friends, buying houses, getting engaged, buying dogs, getting promoted, pay rises. It all just oozes contentment. And don’t get me wrong, I’m really, really happy for them. And they often tell me how hard “real life” is, and how lucky I am, how easy I’ve got it… but both sides come with their struggles.
While I’m working a 45 hour week half way down Africa, away from everyone close to me, whilst trying to push my mind and body further than they’ve ever gone, beyond all limits I know. I often ask myself, is this really worth it? And is it any different to anyone elses scenario?
I mean, I’m not stuck in an office 9-5. But I don’t work any less, in fact, work never shuts off. And if you count training as a job, which it hopefully one day will be, it’s even worse.
I don’t get time away, I don’t get weekends. Christmas, bank holidays, birthdays. You go out to celebrate, I go out to train again.
I can’t afford a house, I can’t afford rent. Some months, I can barely afford to put petrol in my car.
I don’t see my friends, I don’t get to socialise often, I can’t go out on the weekends.
There are times that I really, really struggle.
I’m completely committed to being the best possible athlete I can be, and everything else is there to support that. But there are a lot of days, when I don’t move quickly. When I perform very, very average. When I’m not where I should be, not hitting the mark. And it is hard to take. Sport comes with some phenomenal highs, but the lows are intense. And in the set up I currently have, it’s easy to get isolated very quickly.
In Portugal I went a whole week and spoke face to face with three people. The week where the demands on my body were the highest they’ve ever been.
In Krakow, I had to spend my best friends stag do sober. Not because I wanted to, because it gave me the best chance of being fast on April 7th.
And when I finally got some time off, to go to Sicily and spend a nice long weekend with my girlfriend, I had to spend 12 hours working, and 6 hours training.
I know what you’ll tell me. You’ll tell me that’s my choice, that’s what I’ve decided… and that’s partially true, but that doesn’t make it any easier. By the same thread, you choose to go to work 9-5, I bet you still moan on a Friday!
All I have is some marginally oversized legs, a nice camera and two expensive bikes. Though mixed with a support team that I wouldn’t trade for the world, some days I believe that this little set up, might actually work out.
There’s no guarantee I’ll get good at this triathlon thing. Or the photography thing for that matter. And juggling setting up your own business, whilst staying committed to the “normal job”, mixed with trying to chase the best in the world at three different sports, is taxing.
Contentment has never been a trait I’ve had. Trust me, I wish it was. But in the pursuit of excellence, there is no room for error. No time to cut yourself some slack.
I’m my own biggest critic if I’m not on the mark. I’m never satisfied, I’m always hungry for more.
And don’t get me wrong, I know I don’t always have it hard.
I have a fantastic network of support to allow me to do what I do. And I’ll always be grateful for that. And I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to explore these amazing places, to do these amazing things. Even if I do spend 95% of the time staring at a little computer screen that tells me I’m not pushing hard enough.
But it’s not always as fun as it looks.
I’m just one of a new generation, amongst a phenomenal amount of people trying to pursue the things that make them feel alive. Brought up being told we can do whatever we want to, being reminded that we don’t have any limits. Being shown that we deserve nothing but the best.
We see it every day in social media, on TV, in the news. People doing new and exciting things, careers in the things we’ve always dreamed of. We often assume that because people “have it better than us”, that they’re sorted. That they’re content.
But the reality is, none of us have it any easier than the next, and we’re all fighting our own, individual struggles.
And I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of making excuses for ourselves, and not considering just how everyone else is actually feeling. Not engaging with their vulnerabilities. If you do nothing else today, call your friend/friends that you assume have it all sorted. And check in, check they’re alright, ask if they want to talk.
Because some days, they might!
Don’t worry, I’m fine… I’ve been prodded a few times to write this! Though if you this made you feel like you should have asked, then maybe next time, do!