Training...

Aug 11, 2010

For some reason, the week of August 1 was a particularly tough week for me. Everyday tasks such as walking up one flight of stairs, watering the flowers or using multi-syllable words were enormously challenging. On Saturday, I went through my normal checklist to identify possible reasons why I felt so out of it… 

  • Hydration level okay?
  • Getting enough rest?
  • Enough sodium in my diet?
  • Was my nutrition intact?
  • Did I have enough laughs outside of the boat?

Check, check and check. What is it?!

Then it dawned on me during the final practice of the week…I did everything right last week, I was simply in the middle of a challenging training cycle AND this is supposed to be hard! I am training for the Olympics, not exercising to fit into my Trina Turk pencil skirt or to look good in South Beach on my annual girls’ trip. DUH.Training implies preparation for an upcoming event, meaning that a goal lies at the end of a journey. And quite frankly, the goal needs to be bigger than ourselves, which for me, is making the 2012 Olympic Team. Regardless of the pursuit, whether it be for the Olympics, military service, a job promotion or the local triathlon, hard work and dedication is critical to span the gap from our current potential to our absolute best. In fact, it requires pushing through the tough days, not making excuses, and certainly not allowing yourself to shoot a text message to training partners to cop-out when you aren’t feeling up to it. And guess what, this is not always comfortable or fun. Some days are just downright ugly.

First practice in the 8+, April 2010. GO SF GIANTS!

People often ask me “what is it like to train for the Olympics?” Often I gloss over these answers and respond with, “it’s tough” or “it’s a big sacrifice, but the racing is worth it.” In reality, I should be more honest and candid by replying, “it is physically arduous, beyond exhausting and can be downright grueling. Additionally, it is a significant burden on my professional career, my personal life, and it demands daily sacrifice by my friends and family on whom I draw for so much support.”

Another sacrifice for rowing…riding bikes with mom in Sun Valley, Idaho!

With that said, would I change a thing about my life right now? Absolutely not. And I feel fortunate for the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead of me. Not to mention, blessed for my health and ability to train at an elite level.

Whether you’re training for a race or exercising to fit into your clothes, figure out what you’re goals are, set them in stone, and be relentless about accomplishing them—sacrifices and all.

Carry on, and be strong.
—Ali

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