1. Explaining what canoeing is. Often when people ask you what your sport is, they expect a quick answer that they will recognise and be able to judge very quickly. Canoe slalom is obscure enough that having to spend more than five minutes explaining what it is gets quite dull for the average conversation, even though it is probably one of the most exciting sports in the world! An absolute classic for slalom paddlers is being mistaken for rowers
2. While athletes are generally respected from a 'distance', like on television and in magazines, the attitude that full time athletes face on a day to day basis involve comments such as 'oh my god, you're a total tank', 'I can't believe you train so much you antisocial freak', 'thats like, proper commitment, I don't understand why you do it' etc. For real, when you read these back they seem ridiculous - but they slip off the average person's tongue with ease. Kind of like how being seen to try hard at school is socially frowned upon, declining a drink or a pizza apparently has similar offensive connotations. Which is sad, when you think that nobody questions social norms like skipping lectures or eating a kebab. In fact, I would go as far as to argue that people would be more judgemental of a skinny person ordering a salad, than a fat person ordering a burger in a restaurant.
Note: This is changing. I have rarely seen someone smoking in the last couple of years without someone either complaining out loud to them or giving them a dirty look. Not long ago pretty much everyone smoked, and it would be unusual to walk for ten minutes without passing someone doing it.
3. There's this British attitude - now don't get me wrong, I love Britain. I am a good patriotic athlete, despite the individual nature of my sport - that flinches away from anything that could be interpreted as; bragging, arrogance, over-pride, underserved pride, less-than-modesty, 'special treatment', and superiority. Which is NOT to say that these personality traits come with being an athlete, in fact in my experience the opposite is often true. But to declare yourself a full time athlete, at any kind of advanced level in a sport, seems to produce a sort of self defensive attitude in the less informed listener.
Guys. I train every day, as hard as I can. This does not mean I expect every person I meet to love physical exercise. I am not going to judge your lifestyle because its different from mine. I respect people who love what they do, and if that means you go to the gym every day, once a week or once a year - who am I to judge that? Some people love socialising, some people love travelling, gaming, eating, complaining, studying, dating. I happen to love canoeing, and while I think everyone in the world should have a go at it, because it IS awesome - just do what you love!