While writing this article, I have my own personal struggle with inconsistent training, unavoidable obstacles along the way, and other things in my life that are more important in the long term than cycling, which lead to lack of motivation, and the question that keeps arising of: what is this all about, and am I still enjoying this?
One thing I’ve noticed a lot in sport, is too many people pursuing their goals without actually enjoying the process, and even the end result of achieving them!
I’ve heard these quotes from Mohammed Ali and the like about absolutely hating their daily training. Although they’re professionals being payed huge sums of money, as well as their efforts helping and inspiring others all over the world, for most of the general sportsperson, I don’t think it’s the right, or a healthy way of approaching training, or goals.
Now training and competing is by no means supposed to be easy and always enjoyable, it’s supposed to be hard, but you’re supposed to enjoy it. If you hate it, then something isn’t right. The commonly accepted definition of a champion is someone who can push through this hard training and the pressures of competition more than anyone else; but here’s the conundrum, if it’s horrible and you hate it, there’s little to no reward at the end of the day, and you’re not a professional being payed to do this – what’s the point?
Sure, you might say personal pride, the joy and thrill of competition, pushing past your limits, and the list goes on. And you’ll be 100% right!
You’re probably thinking, contradiction right? Well I think the point I’m trying to make is that training and competition vs the enjoyment of it and the quality of life that results from it, is largely a balancing act. Pursuing a goal is a lifestyle, and we must embrace that lifestyle we have chosen and enjoy each moment of it; each moment of the process is precious. We shouldn’t waste it by hating what we’re doing.
These little moments of up’s and downs add up; the hard days and the good days make the big picture. We shouldn’t lose sight of what it’s all really about.
It’s not so much about the end result or outcome, but the journey and process, and who we grow into while pursuing our goals. Whether we get there or not, I think this is the most important thing.
Now I’m not saying stop training, competing or stop pushing your limits, that’s after all what sport is all about. Focus on the bigger picture and don’t let the negative moments take control of you. Don’t do something you don’t enjoy, and especially don’t feel pressure from anyone or anything other than yourself, and If you don’t like something, whether that’s training, competition, the pressure, or anything else, take a look at it and change it. And you’ll know what that change needs to be.
This is supposed to be something we enjoy to do, and we should try maximize that enjoyment. That’s a personal thing, and you’ll find out what you enjoy most as you go along. But every now and then, ask yourself the question, and don’t be afraid to be critical, and don’t be surprised about what you answer.
Achieved goals, medals or records don’t mean much if you hated achieving them, they won’t bring back fond memories, and other than others looking up to you, you won’t get much pride out of them. But if you enjoy the journey and embrace all the little moments along the way to becoming a better person, you’ll remember it forever, and you might even inspire someone out there to do the same, and as an athlete, there’s nothing better than that!
Always remember, in between goals, there is something called life, your life – live it! I think at the end of the day, it’s about setting these goals, and working as hard as you can to achieve them. Regardless of the outcome; focus on the little daily moments of enjoyment on this journey of pursuing your goals. If you aren’t enjoying it, find out why and change it!
Matthew de Freitas