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It’s tough out there. Let’s not dress it up – life is pretty brutal sometimes. It’s a harsh environment and things are in place to test our mental and physical fortitude. Then you get weirdos like us who decide to make it even harder by deliberately adding a bit more into the mix.

This one is a bit more thought provoking than usual. And no more training camp chat (until the next one!). I wanted to share my thoughts about life getting in the way of stuff, and stuff getting in the way of life. Because as everyone knows, whether you’re a triathlete or not, it’s a bit like a juggling game in the circus of existence, and it eventually takes its toll. No matter how hard you are.

 There will be negative things that go on, there will be negative people, and you will harbour negative thoughts. The key is perspective, and I know this sounds a bit obvious, but it’s all about mind set. Turning situations around into positive ones is really hard; it’s a skill. But it’s an invaluable one, because you know what? Don’t be beaten by it. You don’t deserve to.

Various stuff has happened to me recently, and although it’s a rollercoaster, life being what it is, I have had to dig deep and extract some serious positivity out of it. The thing is, I didn’t actually find it particularly hard. Maybe I’m getting good at turning bad things around into positive things. Maybe, in Matrix-style placebo, I just THINK I’m getting good at it!? Who knows. It’s certainly an asset though.

It doesn’t take long before you start seeing little glimmers of reason behind your decisions, or your circumstances. Things that justify it, that make you think “yes. This is obviously meant to be.” I’m going to provide a really rubbish but relevant example.

At the end of 2012, the year I started attempting (and embarrassingly failing) to compete in a few triathlons, I was suffering some knee pain from running (overuse injury). I had to stop running for a few months, but swimming was ok. So I swam most days. This was when I was starting right out, having only learned front crawl earlier that year.

Anyway, because I couldn’t run, and mostly couldn’t bike either, I ended up swimming far more than I would have ordinarily. As a result, my swim improved quite drastically, and in the space of 5 months, I cut my half Ironman swim time by a massive 14 minutes.

I know you might interject here with an assumption that my swim would have improved anyway. Yeah, it probably would. But I know that focus on my swim over Winter proved valuable to me. The injury was what we call ‘a blessing in disguise’.

Lots of things happen like this. You might do really badly at a race, and beat yourself up about it, feel disappointed, dejected, wonder what’s the point, contemplate giving up… But you don’t. And you know why? Because you can visualise that finish line, and you KNOW you can do better. And you damn well can.

My coach Rick recently made me run a god-awful cross country race the week I came back from my camp in Lanzarote – only 26 hours of training that week, no biggie. It was off-road, muddy, slippery, wet, brutally hilly, and even involved 50 steps (twice). I was absolutely knackered, hated it, and got a pretty rubbish time (30th female or something). But you know what he said to me afterwards?

“I knew you’d be tired. I put it in your programme deliberately. Because I knew you’d get a time you’re not happy with, and you’ll want to come back next year and absolutely smash it.”

It was to drive me further. Incentivise. Push harder. Succeed.

We’ve all been there. I think many can relate to this feeling. We all want to be the best we can be. So when stuff happens to you, whether it’s about your triathlon goals, your work, your relationships, your life in general – embrace it. This is your opportunity to turn it around into something amazing.

Remember, there are no mistakes, only lessons. Everything happens for a reason.