Feb 8, 2010

Thoughts on Life and Setbacks

This sport is cruel every once in awhile. Of course life happens, and there are countless numbers of circumstances that can keep an athlete from progressing, mentally and physically. When any circumstance keeps an athlete from doing his (or her) trade, there is commonly a feeling of anxiety. Occasionally, I feel like I am lost in my own nightmare. It is the reoccurring dream where everyone is moving forward, but for some reason, I am unable to move. With every amount of energy, I try to escape. But, in this dream, I’m never able to go anywhere. When my life feels as if I’m restrained by chains, it is hard to break free. Running, like cycling and swimming, often provides me with the means to break free. So going through a period without training is like never waking up from that reoccurring nightmare. An athlete, like any other person, wants to feel as if they are always progressing. But in life, can we always be moving forward? Is it true what some say, “if you’re not moving forward, you’re going backward?"

Experiencing life through sport, the good and the bad, requires us to develop. Experience is everything. Training is teaching our bodies to learn from experience. Pain is our bodies informing us that we haven’t experienced this feeling enough. I once had a friend who thought she could teach herself to transcend pain. By accepting the inevitability of pain, she thought her embrace would help her ignore the pain settling into her body during stressful training. I doubt she completely succeeded, but mentally, maybe she was able to learn to experience just a little bit more.

To me, every bump in the road, every experience, helps me move forward. Maybe an inability to train normally seems like it is pulling you backward. But in reality, it is the one thing helping you move forward. Every athlete goes through rough patches, some more than others. I believe it is the ability to turn a bad situation into a good one that makes a good athlete a great athlete. This type of recognition did not happen naturally. It has taken countless setbacks before this reality became mine. Setbacks are a part of life. It is how a person deals with these setbacks that will define them as humans.

Like that reoccurring nightmare, injury makes me feel an inability to break free. It makes me feel like I am moving backwards, not forwards. But accepting that this experience will make me more resilient… That is the key to progression, and with progression comes transcendence. This life requires patience, and sometimes there is nothing we can do but wait.

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