Getting Your Head Around a Cancelled World

In the past fortnight, as we come to grips with the new normal of 2022, it feels like we got a brief warning…. then the reality of the Big O penetrating the community in New Zealand truly hit.

As the shockwave of moving into the Red setting of the traffic light alert system reverberated, a progressive disturbance to one and all involved in any kind of organised event large or small has been felt the length and breadth of the land.

CANCELLED….While a shock to first get our heads around, we get to choose how we deal with the situation

As someone who plays on both sides of the event fence; participating, competing and organising a number of events too numerous to count over the years, I feel the reality of this for one and all.

If there is one takeaway that a lengthy career in competitive sport has given me, it is that many factors and variables lie outside of our nucleus of control. It’s not anyone’s fault that Omicron arrived just in time to crash the party at the height of the summer events season, but it is within our control about how we deal with it.

For a long time I’ve had what I call an ‘interesting’ relationship with the competitive side of sport which made me delve deep into the ‘why’ that lies behind the personal desire to participate and compete in events and competition(s).

Local events may be where it’s “at” in 2022

And while this has been a personal deep dive into the psychology that sits behind what drives people to want to participate and compete, it strongly resonates now when the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow has been temporarily removed.

Everyone is different and participates for a variety of reasons. I soon learned that while I was/am exceptionally good at the craft of competition and relish the opportunity to rise to the pressure of performing on a date at a certain point in time, it was everything else that I had to love (or at least find joy in) along the way that enabled me to be able to sustain the level of work and sacrifice required to continue to raise the bar week in, week out for years on end.

Some of these things include:

  • Learning to love the process of preparation as there are many weeks of ground hog day on repeat
  • No one can take away the work done to date; be it fitness, confidence, skill acquisition, adventures, laughs and memories
  • You WILL be better for having committed to the preparation involved for your chosen event(s)
  • You get to choose how you deal with things that lie outside of your locus of control
  • Events are simply a date at a certain point in time to test where we are at against others that provide a measure of our progress.
Remembering it’s as much about the people and the experiences of the journey as it is about the destination

So when everything feels like it has been taken away, how do we wrap our heads around how to deal with the situation?

Firstly, it’s also totally ok to grieve the loss of something that may have been. The energy, time and pure emotion that goes into preparation for a pinnacle performance or event has to be experienced to truly understand the hole that is left when something is ripped away.  We are not robots and the more we ‘feel’ these things, the more we know how much we committed to whatever we are trying to do or achieve.

Without the distraction of competition, we can focus on areas in which we may be weaker in and turn them into areas of strength with the benefit of time and the removal of competitive pressure.

It is also the opportunity to pause and reflect on all the wonderful things that have been experienced during these preparations along the way.

  • the learning, progression and building of skills
  • the commitment to following a plan
  • the sense of community and connection with fellow friends who share similar passions
  • the meeting of new friends
  • the opportunity to reflect on how you have challenged yourself through the process
  • the realisation of all the new things have you learned

As we cast our attention to the present, no one can stop you committing to becoming the next best version of your self, of learning, doing the work and having fun while doing so.

There are still smaller, local events happening that can offer the opportunity to see where you’re at, are always a good time and are usually stoked to see people! This is the time to support the grass roots foundations of sport.

And now with the proliferation of cloud based platforms that also facilitate a sense of virtual community that we have become increasingly familiar with since the start of the Pandemic such as Zwift and Strava should you be removed from others, you can still be connected albeit from the confines of your home.

Adhering to the concept of “you vs yourself”, a basic GPS watch will be able to give you feedback of where you’re at in relation to yourself as well as other benchmarks. The likes of Training Peaks can help aid with the need for “accountability” through the tracking of adherence to training programmes if you are unable to join group activity as well as offering a multitude of training programmes across multiple endurance sports disciplines catering to all levels of ability and fitness.

Regardless of any of the above, events or no events you will always be better for committing to the process.

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