I am an athlete.
Sometimes I struggle with this identity. This label.
I mean, I’m not exactly out there breaking big records.
I’m not winning races. In fact, I tend to be a middle-of-the-pack kind of runner.
I’m not blowing people’s minds with my climbing ability. I’m a top-rope hero if there ever was one and I’m lucky when I can send a route graded 5.10a.
When viewed in the big picture, if you line me up with all the other athletes out there, I’m nothing special.
I let this get to me sometimes.
“I’m not an athlete”, I tell myself.
I’m not good enough. I’m not fast enough. I’m not strong enough.
Swirling thoughts of negativity. Anger. Frustration.
“Why do I even try?”
But it is at these times, these low points, when I have to come back to myself. I start asking questions.
Do I try my hardest? Do I consistently train? Am I out there pushing myself when it’s raining and muddy or snowing and cold? When most other people are unwilling to go outside? Do I set goals and meet them and surpass them? AM I PROUD OF MYSELF?
I AM out there pushing my limits, working hard and enduring discomfort to meet MY goals. To better MYSELF.
And that’s where the secret lies… I’m in a competition with me. I want to do better than I did last time. I want to be faster and climb harder and run longer than I ever have before.
So what if I’m not scooping up epic QOM’s and FKT’s. So what if I’m not winning races.
What I want are the PR’s. I want to set personal records.
I love the progress that I’ve made. I love where I’m headed in my athletic endeavors.
And most important of all: I love the process.
So perhaps I am an athlete.
And if you’re struggling with the same thoughts, I dare you to ask yourself if you’re proud of how far you’ve come. I dare you to set goals, then meet those goals and surpass them. I dare you to allow yourself to feel the joy and gratification of doing so. Then do it again. And again.
Maybe that’s what makes us athletes.
It’s the love of the process.