The view from the top is pretty but …
I’ve been fortunate in my life and both my careers to have had the view from the top and the view from the bottom. I say fortunate because both views, despite being scary as shit, have their appeal. Look up from the bottom and you feel the thrill of how far you have yet to climb; look down from the top and you see how far you can fall. So, which view is my preference?
I’m short. I’ve spent my entire life craning my neck, tilting my chin, rolling my eyes, to look up. It’s my normal. It’s comfortable. It’s the view I prefer. I’d pick the long hard climb to the fast free-fall any day.
Maybe that’s why I am fine now. Despite the last year being less than ideal – personally and professionally – I am actually, for the first time in a long time, fine. I’m not looking forward. I tried forcing that this year and the most movement I made was two steps back for every one step forward. I’m not looking down, because, to be frank, I’m pretty sure I’ve found a new bottom.
I’m looking up.
I’ve always struggled with change of speed. My coach has always thrown different pick-ups into workouts and long runs to try to teach my body to respond to pace changes mid-race. Changing pace has been incredibly difficult for me this year. I fought it. I tried to push and force my body to recover, telling myself that I was perfectly fine after my spring stay-cation at St. Michael’s hospital. It’s been a hard lesson to learn that slowing life down has actually allowed me to speed up – maybe not in the form of fast miles yet, but certainly my health and recovery.
Speed “up” by slowing down.
“I’ve been here before”. That’s been my mantra this fall and it is serving me much better than the other battle cries and rallies I’ve tried. I used “new bottom” because I am not where I was in 2012 when I hit bottom. Then I was jobless, homeless, not on the Olympic team and hopeless.
I am not where I was as recently as this spring when I was in hospital, fighting sepsis; celebrating if my pee was more urine than blood that day. No. Now I am at a bottom where I have accepted that this is a new climb, but a familiar one. That I still have ownership over my body, even if it’s a slightly different one.
“Up”. It is not a new concept for me. It was the cue word I used as a figure skater. “Think “up” when you jump instead of “don’t fall” - otherwise the last thing your brain is going to remember is “fall””. Advice almost as simple as #makeyourlegsgofast. I’d ride my edge, pick my toe into the ice, draw my weighted leg in while pivoting, pressing down into the ice while simultaneously drawing upon its force to catapult me into the air. And in those final few milliseconds think “up” as I snapped up, wrapping my arms and legs around each other, and I’d, for that split second of rotation, feel long. I felt tall.
Think “up” so you don’t fall.
“Up. Up. Up. Can only go up from here”. Thanks Shania, but I politely beg to differ. Going up. Picking yourself up. It’s a choice. It’s not a decision made by default. Despite finding bottom, you can always try your hand at digging further. Plenty of people do. You can head forwards. Actively decide to slide backwards. It is all a choice.
For 2018 I am choosing to think “up”.