It's been an insane mix of incredible highs and outstandingly crappy lows. I know for absolute sure that almost all my friends have had a similar or worse couple of years. Maybe it's really millennial of me to feel 'low' in a life where I'm able to do basically everything I love. But the highs wouldn't be as incredible without the lows, right?
A massive part of slalom is mindset. I'd like to go as far as to say a 'sustainable' mindset. Which to me is having a solid home 'base', and a plan. The thing is, mindset is completely internal. I think someone with the least stable lifestyle in the world and absolutely zero plan from one day to the next can have a more sustainable mindset than someone who has every single day mapped out. I'm probably guilty of the latter; I plan everything like three months in advance, but I still get incredibly anxious about having 'missed something' or not accounting for something in the plan. So I get anxious about the plan.
An old coach told me that when we sit on the start line, it's important not to give yourself anything extra to think about. So you should sort out everything in your life so that you can completely focus on racing. But when you look at the racing history of some of the best athletes in the world, that just can't be true. Fiona Pennie is one of the best athletes in the history of canoe slalom, and has overcome a plethora of challenges this season to still, against all odds, put down some incredible racing. Time and again, we see Olympians and world champions performing at an insane level despite horrendous personal circumstances. I actually don't think it's too surprising. Racing is what athletes train for, every single day. And when racing becomes an escape from "reality", then perhaps it's even easier to give it your absolute attention.
I'm not great with change. Maybe it was moving house a lot when I was younger; but probably not, because I didn't really like change even then. This year has seen such a vast range of change for me that I think I've started to relax into it. It's so, so hard not to compare your situation with others, or only see the parts that are 'worse' or 'unfair'. It's sort of bullshit, because as cliche as it sounds, everyone has stuff to deal with. There's always going to be a way your situation is better or worse. But I think what defines your success is seeing the best parts, and feeling confident that you're doing the right thing. At the end of the day, the beauty of racing is the freedom you have sitting on the start line. There is absolutely no obligation to do, or think about anything other than what you're doing right now. You don't need to 'sort out' your life. Enjoying the moment is simply doing justice to yourself and what you have spent your life training for.