When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love … – Marcus Aurelius
This morning was an especially quiet and serene sunrise over the lake as a thick, unfamiliar fog settled in. My standard routine is to hustle into the boathouse to organize my things for practice and to begin my warm-up in preparation for another full day of training. I couldn’t help but be drawn first down to the lake.
On most days, I’m lucky to be the first one to the boathouse in the morning (which means it is still dark with just a hint of the sun peeking over the surrounding mountains). It’s beautiful here and quickly became one of my favorite places to train. Since arriving for this year’s camp, I hadn’t yet taken the time to fully appreciate being here and all that that means.
We are nearly one month into our winter training camp here at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center. Olympic Trials are in exactly three months; and the Olympics, 196 days away. My journey began four years ago when I received the invite to join the National Team training group in Chula Vista for the London Olympics preparation and build-up. I was the last one to make the list and had no idea what I was doing. I was just thrilled to be among the group. Four years later, and I’ve successfully pursued a path with a good shot at the Olympics–and in my belief, an Olympic medal. This year I’m no longer just happy to be here; I’m here to make a statement and to win Olympic Trials.
Without thinking, I dropped my bag and descended the hill to the dock to take in what felt like a very special and quiet moment.
The past few weeks here have been productive but challenging, and the road ahead promises to only get tougher. It is easy to get caught up in the daily grind, especially at camp. Training at the elite level is an arduous pursuit, requiring a commitment equal to monasticism for success. Train, eat, sleep; train, eat, sleep. Ironically, this absolute focus can at times prevent you from seeing the enjoyment in each day. If you’re not careful, you’ll lose sight of the now and the progress that is found in the present. I feel like a part of me had forgotten this.
What I do is a full-time job and I very much regard it that way. It’s work. As with anything you fully devote yourself to, some days can really kick you in the ass. Mornings like this one remind me to breathe–be still even if only for a moment–and remember that following your dreams is a privilege and every day is a gift. You’ll never go wrong in honoring that simple, yet elusive truth.
Every Day Counts.