As many of you know, I’ve been through a lot of changes over the last 12 months and life is looking very different these days. I’ve received love and support from surprising sources and I’ve received judgment, too. The judgment I wasn’t as prepared for and it got me thinking about my opinions of others and myself and even of the industry I’ve chosen to work in.
As usual, I’ve picked up books on the topic and listened to countless podcast episodes on the subject and I’ve been working hard to check my judgments. I quickly realized I had to check myself or I’d wreck myself (and limit my personal and business growth). I’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple of extraordinary athletes in my network who have been challenging my preconceived ideas about their specific sports, and about the pursuit of athletic success in general.
Don’t Fight It
During my time as a human kinetics student, I was exposed to the world of sport psychology and mindset training by Terry Orlick which was quickly followed by my own first-hand experience with head injuries (long story short: I took a hockey puck to the head and suffered a concussion). Since then I have been a sometimes vocal advocate for safety in sports and 99.9% of the time I would advise another human being to avoid being punched in the head. I always wondered what ran through the mind of a fighter Until I started conversing with an amateur MMA athlete, Cory Vern.
My knee-jerk reaction was to ask him “Why the hell would you take a beating on purpose?” and to assume he grew up an aggressive and angry young man who spent all day punching things. I feel like an idiot for rushing to judge Cory based on my fears surrounding his sport: he’s revealed himself to be a thoughtful and rather sweet, dedicated dad of two who lets me pick his brain at all hours of the day and night (because I often wake up with good questions and ideas and can’t let them go). I’ve learned that fighting for him is like running for me: a peaceful quiet where you feel at your best with the world around you. Turns out he’s a pretty dedicated runner himself: as in it’s nothing for him to run 15k to save himself a cab ride.
Finding that we shared something in common as important to me as running, opened the door to discussing the importance of mindset and being able to focus on the goals you set for yourself. Focusing on nutrition and different fighting styles and bouncing back from a tough workout will sound familiar to any athlete, regardless of activity. I’m headed to Moncton, NB next weekend to see him in action and pick his brain on the fight night mindset needed to succeed (because he’s gonna win his match ). Cory The Warrior and I aren’t all that different, really, which made me wonder what else I was judging.
And The Wheels Keep Spinning
Recently, I commented on the Instagram post of a local athlete I had been following since I saw him race before my half-marathon in October last year. I had no idea of this guy’s story, I just knew he was paralyzed and raced a wheelchair like he stole it. We started chatting about protein pancake mixes and racing, and it ended up with him recording an interview the next day for the podcast I co-host with Melissa Kahn. (Seriously, do yourself a favour and listen to it now. Well, after you finish reading this post.)
Ben Brown was in an ATV accident 12 years ago that left him paralyzed from the chest down, but that only slowed him down. Temporarily. Within weeks of his injury, he had decided to do whatever it takes to get back out there on wheels. I thought I had a developed a pretty positive outlook and followed a strong goal-oriented path, but Ben continues to shake my perception of a positive outlook.
Insert Face Palm Here
Aside from realizing how inaccessible so much of our world is, I’ve been challenged to reflect on how ignorant I’ve been. I felt like an idiot after asking how ripped his abs must be (duh…I studied anatomy and physiology and no feeling from the chest down means no ab function. Sorry, Dr. Stothart.) I even asked if he lived alone, because I assumed he was unable to do everything himself. I completely made an ass of myself, but once we got that out of the way, I learned that a paraplegic athlete has different nutritional requirements and even the climate affects him differently. Everyday is #armday for this elite racer, and while those guns may intimidate some newbies at the gym, his dedication to clean eating and honest nutrition only increases my guilt about those Tostitos I ate earlier.
While there are so many differences between his racing path and my own, there are far more similarities. We each bore our family and friends with our talk of distances and interval times and training schedules. Our closets are full of more athletic wear than business wear, and we #fitnessmotivation on the regular. He finds it tricky to get groceries between work and school and training and I find it hard to train between getting groceries and teaching school. I’m just a woman trying to reach her goals and he’s just a man pushing towards his.
As a fitpreneur, it’s important to challenge the way you think about the sports and athletes outside of your niche. We’re all just pushing our limits, just in a different ring or race course.
I want to thank Cory and Ben for continuing to teach me. With each new podcast guest or person I meet at an event or race, I find myself learning something new and expanding my horizons as a runner and as a human being. Every sport has something to teach us and every athlete even more so.