I was talking to another gym mom the other day about summer schedules, and we started talking about the crazy hours our girls put in over the summer. I started thinking about the cycle that athletes go through in a competition and training season. In every athletic season there comes a time when it's just not fun. It's stressful. It's hard. It's long. You're missing out on other things. You're mentally drained, and it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It seems to me like this happens about twice a year. Once in the middle of the competition season, and once in the off season.
Since the off season is generally longer than a competition season, it can drag on and on. At the beginning, you're excited for a little break. It's time to rest, rejuvenate, and relax. It's time for a much needed break (mental and physical), no matter how much you love your sport. At the end of the off season, you're excited to get back into the season. The days and hours tick down, you don't have much time left to perfect your routine, to learn that new skill, to reach peak performance level. All that hard work is about to pay off as you count down to that first step out onto the mat (or field, or court, or track). The middle, however, is rough. You're done resting and ready to go, but the regular season is still too far away to get you excited. This is when champions are made. You can push through and step up, or you can take the day off, skip a practice here and there, or worse yet, walk away*.
The other slump often hits during the season. The hours are long. You're putting in work like nobody knows. Your weekends are full, your nights are long, emotions run high, and the adrenaline of starting a new season begins to wear off. This is when you separate the good from the great. The focus that it takes to push through and excel during a season is something that must be trained as much as the physical aspects. You have to dig deep and remember why you play the game. Why you love the sport. Why you put on that leo or pick up that ball in the first place. Mid-season (training or competition) is tough.
One thing I will say though, is that you should never make mid-season decisions. Most of us won't participate in our sports forever. Whether it was your first love or just a hobby, eventually you hang up the cleats - or the leo. But once you decide it's your time to be done, there aren't always second chances - especially in those activities that are more physically demanding. So give yourself time and space to make those decisions, and give your kids time and space.
How do you get through the tough times? How do you maintain focus? I'd love to hear from you!
*Obviously when I'm talking about kids I fully realize that there needs to be a healthy balance between discipline and dedication, and "just being a kid."