Initially, when the season was cancelled, I was relieved. Relieved I didn’t have to compete and compare myself to the rest of North America in the coming weeks of US Cups. As excited as I was to start the mountain bike season, especially with the new team, I just felt kind of off. There was this lingering fatigue I’d been carrying since the fall that I couldn’t shake. Like something hanging over me and my mind. I didn’t feel ready, despite my best efforts to make and convince myself I would be.
What kind of fatigue?, I’m not sure, to be honest. Even after taking the realest break from training I’ve ever done in my life, after cyclocross Nationals and PanAms, I struggled to get back and find a good rhythm, positive energy, and headspace with my training towards the new year. I couldn’t find the right mindset and follow through on it, or anything really. Even reading some of my posts and journals from December and January now, I can tell I was disoriented. When I read back on things, I can usually tell from how it was written and flows (more so than what I actually said), what kind of state I was in. And I think I was more scattered than I was willing to admit at the time.
So when I think more on it now, and we all pause and reflect on our lives in these *exceptional times* (man, these terms torque me way more than they should), it seems like the 24/7 athlete lifestyle was (is) too much for me. Focussing solely on becoming the best athlete possible is too consuming. Instead of finding fulfillment in the process of constant self-improvement, I just get worn down and tired of it. It’s hard, always trying to be better. My main purpose in life for the past 7 years has been to get better at sports – first skiing, now cycling. All my choices and direction have centred around what will help me get the most out of my athletic pursuits; school, work, social life… all have a small asterisk with how it fits in the mission.
And that’s crazy. Especially when you’re not sure why you’re on said mission, exactly.
I am acutely aware of how valuable a balanced lifestyle is, but have not found a stable, long-term situation for myself yet. Alongside the training, racing, and travel, I have been every combination of part-time or full-time student, and a part-time or 9-5 employee. Ensuring I always have some kind of “life” or “career” progress to show for outside my stumbling sport career, but also giving me something fairly legitimate to lean on and fill my time with. And it showed – I never struggled more in sport than when I had none of those things to balance me out. All in isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be, for me at least. It’s more important to burn extra energy than store and let it stew.
Short term, early summer, the novelty of focussing solely on racing the World Cup had me super motivated, engaged and energised, but as the season wore on I got tired, my and my excitement started to wane. My performances also became more erratic, and I questioned why I was spending all this time, money, and effort following the racing circus. It is hard to justify an unsustainable lifestyle… perhaps more passionate and ambitious people struggle less with this, but I think I’m too levelled out by nature and nurture.
But then cyclocross season started, and I totally re-inspired myself. Like a shot of espresso!, a little later in the afternoon than you know you should be having. It brought me back to life, but the comedown after was rough; I was on fumes, yet still buzzing, unable to rest, reset and properly gather myself. Which saw me spluttered along into the start of this year, quietly hoping for some small miracle, but instead found a pandemic and the world of sport as we know it on hold. Certainly not the same, but still an opportunity and time I’ll take for now…
And now pause – at nearly 700 words here, I’ll be cutting this post here and picking up tomorrow or the next day. Social media is killing me these days… mostly seeing what other people are doing with their new normal lives and agonizing over what I should be sharing about mine. The feedback loop is unhealthy, but I still feel compelled (or at least obliged, rightly or wrongly) to share something, so mid-to-long form blogging is my choice of expression. Perhaps the occasional Instagram post, maybe I’ll do another freestyle-baking video, or vlog (haha)… not sure yet, we’ll see. I’m definitely not going to give advice on how to manage emotions, goals, training or whatever… More likely a mix of my thoughts and ideas, as honestly as I come by them, and maybe just day-to-day happenings because sometimes the most ordinary things are also best to read about.
Let me know what you’re thinking – comment, contact page, email, text, call. And I’ll do the same.