Last week I started back to training, lightly. This week, a little more pressure. It's a nice time of year in some ways (despite cold and lack of sunlight) because I return to a routine I've known for years. I returned to our indoor track at the Olympic Oval and because of the transition that the XC runners are doing now, I was on my own running through our normal warmup path. Normally I'd rather have the group, but it was a good time to run alone through the dark, cold, crisp, but special route.
The bright lights from the University buildings stand out and the cars that avoid us while we are on the school's roads; nothing's changed. The run brought back years of memories and reminded me what lies ahead. It forced me, I guess cause of the solitude, to recognize how lucky I am. It reminded me of how great it is to devote to something you love and to do it with great friends beside you. Sounds like another cliche, which the world could do without, but it's true - no emotion or experience can replace the honest, painful, complete pursuit of something you are passionate about. I've increasingly bought into the rule that a happy athlete is a successful athlete. And it's not really a secret that I haven't been a happy athlete for the last year. I felt like more than the typical number of wrenches were thrown my way; another major change in our sport, reduced funding, internal squabbles with my federation, a heart scare (misdiagnosis taking two weeks to resolve suggesting I'd have to retire), and a general feel that I never got my footing so I could perform. It's all a blur now with few "high's" in memory. But, being back on that pathway and on the track in the Oval takes me back to the year's of training and fun I've had. It's easy to lose sight of what makes you happy when you are staring at it so intently that the feelings fade and you take for granted the moment. 99.999% of an athlete's (or musician's, academic's...) time is spent on perfecting a performance lasting 0.001% of their time. Guess it's easy to see how perspective is easily distorted. I decided that as un-fun as last year was, this year I'm doing what I can to make it better. Someone I really admire said 'happiness is a choice.' Not an easy choice, though one would think. Part of that choice is surrounding yourself with people you like and removing 'junk' from your life. That's my goal as well. The year ahead presents a big challenge. I am up for it.