Friday, 23 March 2018

Navigating through the winter blues

I have been coached for almost 9 years now. I remember my first ever run session on the track. I was told by head coach Alister Russel to stay on the heels of the guy in the blue shirt at all cost. When we finished the set, Alister walked towards me with a big grin on his face "we are going to have some fun" he said. Not because I was running some record times or had an incredible running technique (quite the opposite) but because I was asked a task and I committed  to completing that task "at all cost" To the point of stupidity as I found out the next day when I could barely get out of bed!
I still remember my early triathlon days as if it was yesterday. It was such a steep learning curve and I loved every minute of it. I was addicted to progress and progress I was making. Patiently ticking off everything which was asked of me with great results at races being the icing on the cake. Combining my sporting ambitions with a job, a (almost non existing) social life and a relationship was something I was pretty much accustomed to. I loved training so I have never felt like prioritising my sport was an issue.  For years this was my life until it all ended up falling apart about 3-4 years ago which I have documented in many of my blogs.
Eating, breathing and sleeping triathlon whilst living in Sydney

I love writing, it is my way of processing my thoughts. Over the last couple of years I have revisited the same topics multiple times. Finding my way through my own mind. I have real difficulty figuring out what I actually want but exactly knowing what it is I do not want. Three months ago I quit my job at the university. After close to two tough years I put an end to my attempt of fitting into a world which was not mine. I have had a gypsy kind of lifestyle moving around hemispheres, countries, jobs, leaving almost every two to three years for over a decade. My job at the University should have been the end to that kind of life style, that was the plan. And when I handed in my notice in it felt like I failed not being able to stick to the plan. Especially after having already had to close the door on my sporting aspirations two years previous. Failing once again. 
After I resigned  I was worried about the reactions and comments I would get from the people around me such as "Are you changing jobs again?" "You can't have it all" "Will you ever be happy?" "You are expecting to much" Including my own destructive thoughts "your life should be sorted by now" "may be you need to change" "you will never be good enough" All creating doubts in my mind about the decision I had just made. 
I withdrew myself from my environment and went back to the things I knew would make me happy. My bike, my running shoes, my dogs, the outdoors and a small group of close friends spread around the world who understood what made me, me without any judgement.
Spending time with in the Mountains with my best friend for over 30 years

For the first time in, well, my whole working life I had the chance to give myself space to breathe. Sort my head and really work out what I wanted. I discovered that that would take a lot longer than the 2-3 months I had before starting a new job!! But by going back to the basics I did rekindle my relationship with my sport. The routine of training and the simplicity of it gave me stability. The one thing guaranteed to make me feel good. It also made me realise how much I had missed it. I recall friends of mine who turned their backs on racing saying they were so relieved that they did not have to motivate themselves to stick to a training routine anymore. I have never struggled with motivation. Only the Scottish weather would throw me a curve ball from time to time! But even so I have never been one of those people who needed a push to get out and train. Quite the opposite. I love training. And I love training hard. I am a worker. What I love most about training is the feedback you get from your own body or the feedback from a coach. To give me the confidence I am moving forward and progressing to something better. I hate standing still, in any aspect of my life. Through injury I was forced to take a bit of time away  from a regiment training program. But when I decided to step away from elite level racing, I also thought that it was overkill taking training so seriously. What I have discovered in the last couple of months though is that for me, it wasn't the races I missed most. It was the proper preparation for a racing season, leaving no stone unturned, working on every little detail. Feeling strong and prepared was what I missed the most. I missed the athlete lifestyle.  And I realised that it was not necessary to be aiming for a world championship to incorporate that back into my life. 
I loved spending a week with coach Nico and his wife Alex back in 2016, living the dream

I was lucky with James MacCallum and Whatsyourmeta on my doorstep giving the opportunity to work closely together with a coach again. James had helped me prepare with high altitude training for my trip to the Himalayas and had been my strength and conditioning coach after I had the ok from Physio Morgan to start proper rehabilitation post injury. I worked well with James and having the time to invest to get stronger under his watchful eye I have found extremely rewarding. I have been improving with leaps and bounces, which for someone like me is pure happiness! On top of that, I have been surrounded again by likeminded active people, all working towards a goal, how big or small that might be. That in itself I have found inspiring and reenergising.
Training at M.E.T.A and being inspired by incredible athletes such us Eileen Roe

In two weeks time I will be starting a new job at a specialised equine practice once again. 
Just like in my sporting career I have always given everything I have towards my veterinary career. I am passionate about what I do. I love learning, improving and I am committed  to be the best veterinarian I can be. Just like in my sporting career I have had my fingers burned in the last few  years. I have wondered how much disappointment one can take, it starts hurting after a while. I have lost a little confidence in my own ability along the way. Luckily I was born a dreamer, and I have pushed myself through plenty of heart ache before in the pursuit of dream chasing. It has taken me a little longer to bounce back this time but  things are beginning to fall into place and with that I dare to dream a little again. Sometimes hitting rock bottom is a beautiful start.
 "May be its not always about trying to fix something broken. May be its about starting over and creating something better"

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