If I hooked you with the title of this blog thinking you’d get tips on how to shave precious seconds off your triathlon times, I apologize. If you’ve ever looked at my transition times: 1. You are a major tri geek as even I don’t really look at them & 2. You’d be aware that I am in no position to be doling out such advice. Rather, I’m going to rattle on about a far more important transition in the life of an athlete: Retirement.
The spate of recent suicides by hockey players unable to find comfort in their post athletic endeavors has brought this topic to mind. A recent conversation with my wife about how few Canadian athletes avail themselves of tuition support has re-enforced my desire to say something. If only one athlete reads this blog and gets either a wakeup call or sense of comfort, it will be worth the effort of personal introspection (if not, reflection has its own rewards).
Moving from the life of a full time athlete into the ‘real’ world is not easy. It has not been easy for any athlete I’ve spoken to. It was not easy for me. You will miss things about your sport and the sense of identity that it brought you. You will struggle to find a new identity which brings you the same sense of satisfaction. I will let you in on a little secret… YOU WON’T! Satisfaction in life will be derived in different realms and you need to be prepared for that. The sense of satisfaction will be different. You will be drawn to thoughts of returning to your sport to re-capture your identity and sense of purpose in life. You may have success if you choose to do so (I didn’t), but you need to be aware that one day you will still need to move on. Even Michael Jordan had to move on after his efforts to find renewed sense of purpose (I doubt batting a career .202 could compare with all of those rings and MVP trophies). He has since bought an NBA franchise and a motorcycle racing team which no doubt fill his days with a new purpose. There will be a difference between you and Michael Jordan… ‘Resources’! You will not likely be running out and buying an NBA franchise after surviving on government support for years (If you do think you can afford one on $1500/month, no matter what that dude on craigslist tells you, the Vancouver Grizzlies are no longer for sale).
Most of us have to work very hard to find a renewed sense of purpose. Be assured that most of us do. Be prepared that it will not always be an easy road. Your athletic past will help you to deal with obstacles and deliver you to the foot of your new path with tools that most do not possess. Take advantage of these tools and the other programs in place to assist in your evolution (seriously… a FREE university education is an unbelievable benefit… at least consider using it). Put a plan in place; be aware that there is a high probability that plan will change (several times). The fact that you have a plan will make for a smoother transition.
Now after my rant/lecture, I will let you in on another little secret… Life after elite sporting endeavors is more rewarding than you ever thought it would be! You will seek and find new challenges and you will succeed and fail as you did in sport. You will set new goals and learn there is more to life than you previously believed. You will be awakened to a plethora of possibilities. You will feel a more complete sense of satisfaction by being successful in entirely new arenas. You may, for example, get that education, have a successful career, learn to do a flying bike mount after a 22 minute swim (next on the list) or possibly even learn to write your blog without a blatantly obvious attempt to bring it full circle at its close.
Change of Address
2 years ago