In all honesty, 2017 was a make-it or break-it year for me. After a challenging 2016 season, I began the year with some fairly clear performance goals. These correlated to a legitimate break-even analysis: given the investment I wanted to make, I knew I needed a certain income from prize money or sponsors to financially break-even. Contrary to some perceptions of professional athletes in general, in triathlon, with the exception of the top 3-5%, most Elite triathletes on the ITU circuit have rather meager, unstable incomes. While I am not doing it for the money, (and I don’t think many of my colleagues are either), we do need to make a living. Otherwise, triathlon just becomes a hobby.
Overall, the results were largely positive finishing the season 18th in the World Triathlon Series Ranking, 3rd in the European ranking, with 2x World Cup podiums and 10x Top ten performances at European & World levels. This exceeded my break-even analysis allowing me to continue my professional career. The progression was not linear, nor entirely consistent throughout the season. On the whole, though, I was much more in control of my races.
Learning to focus on my process, rather than on the outcome was something that made a big difference this year. This may seem somewhat contradictory after explaining that I started off the season with such precise objectives. I believe goal-setting is important to establish a direction, but once the aim is set, all energy and attention must go into the daily process of making it happen.
And let’s be honest, the process is the hard part! Actually doing the daily actions required to put you out of your comfort zone is difficult. It’s the not-so-glamorous daily grind. It’s the morning 5km swims. It’s the drag yourself out the door, third-workout-of-the-day evening runs. It’s the 10th hill repeat when you thought your quads exploded on the last one. If anything, setting goals is the easy part. Thinking about holding that blue finish line tape above your head, champagne showers, happy hugs with family and friends. Coincidentally, the media and federations love to talk about goals and results the most, and it takes conscious effort to keep my attention on my own process.
Alongside learning to the trust the process came the realization that it will never get easier. In other words, trust the never-ending process. I know this is not a very sexy motto, but as I said before, to get the glory, we must endure the mundane. My profession simply allows me to experience pushing my own boundaries, fears and limits and this is precisely what brings me satisfaction.
Thanks for reading and I wish you all a healthy holiday season!