In May I downloaded an advice note called ‘When and When Not to Quit your Sport’. I’d lost all enjoyment from training and was finding it harder to motivate myself as I felt increasingly tired and despondent. It basically said: don’t quit in the heat of battle. So I carried on, counting down the days to the Worlds, trying to find little ways to reward myself for each session done and I made it to the competition and out the other side. Other blog posts here describe what happened. At the time I didn’t know I was ill, although I knew deep down I’d trained too hard considering my body’s ability to recover. Lack of enjoyment and motivation is a key sign of burnout.
That note also said: quitting is the right decision when you’ve stopped enjoying your training/sport. I spent the summer waiting for my mojo to come back and in September I felt a glimmer of inspiration to have another crack at training for a competition this month. And so I met with my coach, updated my training plan and set to work. Unfortunately stomach problems, workload and travelling scuppered many of these planned sessions. As I got closer to the competition I realised that I could fit in training if I really wanted to – the problem was that I didn’t want it enough.
Thinking back to why I started this, I remember I wanted to see what I’m capable of achieving; how far I could push my potential. It was all about me, my body and my mind. In the last three years I’ve done that and more. The records and wins weren’t essential to meet that goal, but it felt amazing to be recognised as one of the best in the UK. I think my competitiveness and intense motivation drove me to dig deeper than ever this year; I wanted to be one of the best in the World. Unfortunately, I lost touch with where my ability actually was at that point (impaired) and focused on chasing others. I dug up some pretty ugly emotions.
I see my declining health as a gift in a way as it’s a sign from my body that I’ve stretched too far and it’s time to recoil and heal. I think it may take a while and that’s why I’ve decided to step away from competition and intense training for a few years. My healing is through yoga, meditation, spending time with family and re-building my social circle after several years of sacrificing time for training. I going to buy a house to store my growing collection of fins, wetsuits, floats and weights! I also want to share what I’ve learnt from my experience with others to help them find their potential – through writing, teaching and coaching. I’m quite excited to start a new chapter.