A quick getaway

by | Sep 11, 2020 | EN: 2020, Updates & Development | 0 comments

For some athletes, the Coronavirus pandemic was a convenient crisis. For others, less so. Every athlete deals with the situation in their own way. One person might merely sustain their level of fitness, another might focus on achieving peak performance.

For myself, the recent pandemic was a convenient one that didn’t make me feel I lost much progress over the past year; in fact, it was a very successful one. My achievement in Dubai works on me in a special way. People expect things from me now. Before, I was an underdog at best, and I enjoyed that position. You’re still uninhibited and nobody expects anything of your debut performance. Now, the world feels different.

I need to be more critical of my environment these days. I’m also asking myself questions like “How do I stay true to myself in this world of professional sports?”, “How do I keep my own identity in the face of rising expectations?” and “Is the world of professional athletics really as unforgiving as people say? Or is it mostly just hard work and the focus on creating a little world of your own?”

I’d like to be “a sweetheart and an upbeat type of woman” but how do you retain a sweet personality in this world of high performance? Before this whole adventure started, I worked in healthcare because I wanted to take care of people who are in a bad position. That caring aspect is still a major part of me. I don’t tend to put myself in first place, I tend to give that place up to others. That has changed now. The Coronavirus pandemic gave me time to stop and reflect on myself.

And to stop and look at everything that has happened to me and what has changed since.

For a brief moment, I think back on that time I was eight years old, in the hospital after the accident. I kept taking baths to soak the bandages off the stump of my leg, because unwrapping them hurt too much. And I really wanted to do it ‘all by myself’. I wouldn’t allow the nurses to touch it. This idea of doing things ‘all by myself’ is a big part of my personality. I like to have things under control and I don’t like handing over responsibilities to others. On one hand, this really helps me in making decisions, as I trust myself more than anyone. On the other hand, this also means I find it difficult to give up control over things.

You can assert control over certain things in life. But if there is one thing in life that can never be guaranteed, it is certainty.

I was confronted with this once again on the first of July, 2019, when my aunt died. She was my favourite aunt and she had always been there for me. My bond with her was special. At least all the good memories I have of her remain. I now have time to mourn her, to be sad she isn’t around anymore. 

This means that over the course of the past year there have been many moments I wasn’t feeling all that well. And even though it’s been more than a year, for some reason the loss of my aunt seems to impact me all the harder now. And that is ok, those feelings are valid. 

I recently finished a book about a woman who survived a plane crash and suffered through great loss. A small quote from the book stuck with me:

“Nothing remains lost forever. Who or what we have lost becomes a part of ourselves. Who or what was once part of your past, will become part of your future as well. Like Einstein proved, energy cannot be destroyed but can only be made to change its form. Loss brings you closer to the love you once had -or still have. The deeper the bond, the greater the sense of loss, the greater the loss, the deeper the feeling of love.”

Through these experiences of loss you tend to face life differently. You stop taking things for granted. So if this year isn’t about anything, let it then be about me.

A new training location, new coaches, my friends and family close to home. Having my dogs close to me to hug and walk them whenever I want. My home as a place of rest. The man I love and I back together as a team once more.

It’s time to enjoy life and be happy again. To soar over the tracks, to find joy in running again. Because I will make the way things are going now a blueprint for my athletic career for the years to come.

It will still be hard work, but it will no longer be in a hard world.

I took a little two-week holiday for some physical and mental rest. My winter season starts now. I’ll build myself up calmly. And in September I’ll run another race or two.

Keith Antoine, my coach, told me to think on where I stood before I went on my holiday. At that point, I thought he was talking about absolutes like times and fitness. He then told me: “Imagine your destination lies north, and you know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Then you’ll know that when you see the sun set in the west in the evening, you’re still heading in the right direction. Knowing where you stand means knowing that you’re heading the right way. That’s all the certainty you need. No navigation necessary.”

Learn to enjoy the process and every little step that makes you better.

Translation by BeatTheTrail.com

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