I am a firm believer in the saying “What doesn’t kill us makes us strong,” and that’s a good thing, because it seems to become more and more evident the further I delve into my triathlon “dream” that progress does not come without struggle. In fact, lately it seems that struggle is precisely what helps to build progress. And if so, I guess I’m actually doing alright…
Because so far 2013 has been a year of a LOT of work, a lot of lessons, some definite struggle, and what I hope will evolve into a lot of progress. I am slightly disappointed to say that nothing much has changed for me in “life outside of triathlon.” In other words, I’m still trying to balance five jobs while simultaneously working to become a professional triathlete. Because I am a person with several passions in life, I have continued to work at all of this with determination, because I simply don’t want to give anything up. I have a broad range of goals and interests, and have been working hard to fulfill them. In that effort, 2013 has brought many early mornings, late nights, a few tears (okay, maybe a couple of borderline-breakdowns), and not enough sleep as I try to balance it all. But I have continued to work diligently to make it all come together, and not lost sight of my dreams.
As I write this, I realize how un-ideal my situation sounds. And frankly, it is. But, it’s all a part of the puzzle for me right now. I wrote in my most recent blog post (a long time ago now, as my blog has remained idle while my life has been in overdrive) that my goal/plan was to make some changes to enable triathlon to come more to the forefront of my life. Essentially, I was looking to cut back; to do more with less. But unfortunately, I’m just not quite there yet. I’m just not quite at the point where I can take any pieces out of the puzzle. All of the jumbling is necessary for me right now. But, I’m still working to get there, and I know I’m still headed in the right direction, and getting one step closer (most) everyday (minus the occasional set-back!).
Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed thinking about the path in front of me and the direction I’ve set out for myself. It can seem impossible during the challenging moments, and I consider whether I might be crazy to keep dreaming so big. But I just have to slow down for a minute, take a look around, and think about why I am pursuing these goals, and remind myself to take things one step at a time. Then I understand, again, why I’m not about to give up. Perhaps I am a little crazy, but I’m totally okay with that, and I’m going to keep going after what I want. And because I won’t be making any profound changes to my schedule anytime soon (in other words, because I am NOT yet at a level where I can afford to simply make triathlon my job), I have come to realize that I need to make the most of my situation, and focus on how I can benefit from it. Because, even in this very crazy, jumbled puzzle, each piece somehow makes another fit in, and each plays its own role in completing the picture. One day, it will be a new picture, but for now I need to continue to utilize each piece, and determine how I can best make it work to my advantage.
I have often discussed how much I’ve learned throughout life because of my participation in sports. I am acutely aware of the level at which my identity as an athlete has impacted my daily life, and ultimately made me a stronger person. (For more on this, see one of my articles from this past summer’s “Endurance Endeavors” series). But I am now realizing just how much this connection can also be reversed, i.e. how much the lessons I learn and challenges I work to overcome in work and other facets of my life can help to make me a stronger athlete. So as I face struggles right now in being overloaded with work, or just feeling overwhelmed about how to make it all balance out, I understand that these, too, are lessons that can be applied to my inner athlete. They are tests of will and determination, ultimately not much different than those that I face in the last half of the Ironman run leg.
And I know that — even if it is crazy — I just have to keep plugging away, looking ahead, and taking it all with me as I push forward. It’s all valuable: all the “blood, sweat and tears” that are shed in my efforts to reach my goals — even if not shed during training itself — are the struggles that lead me to progress. So I need to take them for what they are worth, and march (or swim, bike, run and ski…) on. I am still very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for me, and confident about what I can do. I may not have picked the easiest road, but I truly believe these struggles will only continue to make me stronger. And I won’t stop trying to reach that next level; to be the best that I can possibly be. No struggles, no progress.