Some days I just don’t know if I am coming or going. It is like being caught between two worlds. The World where I have to put my head down and train, prepare, challenge and confront myself in readiness of a distant day is on one side. On the other side is the World where I want to be part of family, friends and work relationships that feel good and have benefit that is deeply needed. The two Worlds are often in conflict or at least that is the way I perceive them. I understand that it is that I see them as different and it is that difference that creates conflict or resistance, but no matter how I try I still get caught up in going backwards and forward, oscillating between them and often carrying elements of one over into the other.
It is hard to explain but when I am out training it is like a switch is flicked that makes it possible for me to extend, expand and pressurise against the demands of the work, effort and expectations. I become resolved and energised to the point where I am willing to go so deep into being effortful and effective that it seems like I am far removed from life’s norms. In fact if other join me during a session I find that the only act as a reminder of the World I leave behind.
Not many people really want to do what we do? I think there are athletes who talk about and think about it, but not many really go to the next level. It’s not like I fully get it but I do realise that the depths of capacity and willingness to challenge oneself and others is something not many truly are willing explore. The next level starts to become a lonely exercise where fewer and fewer people are engaged. Like the mountaineer I can imagine that when things really become challenging they start to notice that an indicator of the challenge is that few take up the opportunity. There are always ways to find more challenge and as such I think less people willing pursuing a certain challenge or pathway.
To use a rowing example in a pair there are many crews who can and do perform at a level that can be indicated in time around 6min 30sec down to 6min 20sec. There are fewer who challenge themselves to go below 6min 20sec. So much so that if my memory serves me well there are probably less than 10 crews who have gone under 6min 20sec ever. Now to take this further if we consider obvious differences in condition as a factor then the opportunities are few too, but if we look at the number of crews who have had the opportunity and applied the effort and effectiveness to go under say 6min 18sec which is only a mere 2sec less than the 6min 20sec mark, the list of crews reduces dramatically. What if it were possible to row less than 6min 10sec? What if 6min is possible? How many if any would count themselves in or up for the challenge? At this stage for anyone serious about this level of performance it would truly become lonely and very much a different World.
In mentioning all this I am not counting myself in the above category but I want to consider it and feel that it is the next step to take if I where a serious explore of performance. At this stage I feel that the way ahead is challenging and creates a subtle separation from the normal life of family friends and work. Why? It’s because that the time and effort required does something to your relationships. Add that to the style of focus and intensity towards a very specific goal means it is always present. Getting the balance right would be critical to ensure you don’t get lost in that World. The qualities needed verge on the extreme, which don’t bode well for relating to others at times. The obvious sacrifices could certainly take its toll and unless you’re able to stay open with those around you it would be come an obsession that would only possible end in tears. Ok I am being a bit dramatic here, but my point is that how far is far enough.
Currently I notice the two Worlds and I am reminded that I live in both and need both and in some way have to reconcile both to ensure that my family, friends, work and train all get their fair share. I love what I get the chance to do, but there are days when I really fell I have no idea where I am in the grand scheme of things and that feeling of not know if I am coming or going and it can be overwhelming.
Developing the capacity to be the best athlete I ca be is almost completely counter to what it is to be with my family, sharing time with my wife and kids is amazing, but so often I feel like I make so many mistakes. It’s not easy because it requires a certain style and approach and to adapt from the training mind set can be a curiously challenging shift. It is one that often I don’t make quick enough and the train mind set and World bleeds out into the rest of my life.
It is who I am and all I am saying is that at times the shifting, changing, resetting and refocusing becomes all to surreal. Like being in some Salvador Dalí painting. The Worlds appear different then again they don’t. Strange as this may sound I can be out training in the boat and feel completely at one with the movement and the harmony with Duncan is coming into view when like a flash the fondness and love for my family rushes in, from somewhere it becomes for that moment the only thing that matters. With out loosing too much I am then confronted by the tugging of two fantastically wonderful Worlds. It is so amazing to be with my family when we are in the groove together and obviously it is a great sensation when the alignment is found within the boat. The two World have greatness about them and yet residing in either one fully means letting the other go until next time it floods my senses. On an occasion like being in the boat the distinct influence of the activity wins out but as I surrender the beauty of my family for the intensity of the session I wonder if I will become lost in the World or loose the other great qualities that are not required at the particular time.
The flip side to this is when I am with my family and I slip off for a quick session in my mind with out even being aware of my departure. It rolls around in my mind, the effort, the effectiveness, the fatigue, the joy, the reward and then I catch myself with out compromise or tolerance towards my family like I am actually competing against them. It is very unhelpful and a reminder rings out in my mind of this is home not training becomes a call I hear echoing.
As the days inch closer the our goal and with them the focus seems to sharpen gradually as attention turns swiftly like a leopard in the jungle when it spots it’s prey. The civilised man within me has a certain amount of animal instinct I think that sits below the surface and even though I would never say I full comprehend the two I am aware they are present. Put to use they serve will and in the right place the are an ideal asset, but as I have tried to explain there are times, days and moments when the two cross, mix and appear out of nowhere, or at least that’s how it can feel. When this occurs I often find myself feeling like I really don’t know if I am, coming or going.