If you had asked me five years ago where I would have seen my running career by 2015 my response and the picture I had painted in my head would differ vastly from the reality it is today. 2009 was perhaps a year I will never forget in terms of my running achievements. 25 years old setting PBs from 800m to 3000m, an accumulation of 7 years of consistency and I was on a big high.
Never did I ever think putting 10 months of running together in 2014 would be my best achievement. Its amazing how your goals drastically change from aiming to be one of the best Australian 1500m runners of all time to stringing together one week of training to the next. Plantar surgery followed by two back-to-back stress fractures in my right foot left me in a dark place. At the age of 30 it’s easy to just call it a day, after all I have achieved more than I ever imagined as a young buck with dreams of breaking 4mins at 1500m.
There is something than burns deep inside me even as I grow older. Could I really call it a day without becoming an Olympian? Sure, I may never make an Olympics, even as I strive toward the back end of my career, but there is one thing I know. I could never quit having not given it one last shot. Those five rings mean more than anything to those who give up their lives to reach the tip of the iceberg. No matter how slippery a slope it can be, if you ever do reach the tip, the satisfaction is indescribable. I cried when I made my first World Champs Team in 2009 because the raw emotion of 7 years of hard work finally paid off. I am not ashamed to let my emotions take over, as a male it’s seen as weakness and seldom do we show our true feelings.
Back to 2015 I now realize just how fortunate I am to be healthy and training hard, although not setting the world on fire, it’s a nice place to be at present. I have strung together 10 months of consistent training following a very slow progression back to a decent workload. The road back is long and windy though I understand what it takes to reach the tip of the iceberg so I will endeavor to stay patient. The hardest part is realizing how much everyone has progressed in the meantime, and biting my pride whilst racing at sub par fitness is a test of my character.
For me it’s all about Nationals in March. Even though it would be fantastic to run well every time I step onto the track the reality is I have not raced regularly since 2012. If I make it back this year it will be exciting and if I don’t then at least I have built a solid platform for Rio 2016 when things really heat up. One last shot at being an Olympian, as it would seem foolish to look toward Tokyo 2020. Life after athletics is the hardest thing for anyone who has devoted his or her life to a sport, which offers little in return. I never chose running for the financial return, it’s just the sport I found I enjoyed the most. I believe the freedom, friendships, travel and general understanding of how to deal with highs and lows will always out way any bank balance.
My advice to anyone at any level is to simply make the most of the good times and take the positive out of the bad times. Always wake up everyday with the aim of improving yourself mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually. Remembering just like life, running is a roller coaster ride, which stops for no one.