Last summer, the (then) new head coach of the paracycling national team asked if I would be interested in moving back to the OTC to be part of a developing resident program. At first, I was extremely hesitant to even consider it- the previous experience with the resident program left me overtrained, burned out, disliking the sport, and an angry individual. After carefully examining the situation I had left, I realized it wasn't the OTC that was the problem; it was the people I had surrounded myself with, and the decisions I made during my residency that tainted the experience, not the location itself. The more thought I gave it, the more it made sense to move back. The training center offers fantastic opportunities to capitalize on, the track is nearby, and living at altitude is a nice training bonus. This time, I've approached residency differently than the last time- it no longer has the "Disneyland effect" and the sense of "wow, this is the OTC, wahoo!" is replaced by "I have specific goals that I will accomplish by utilizing the resources available to me." mindset. That's not to say that it isn't cool to live there, it absolutely is, but there are things that I want and need to accomplish in my career that can be done through residency at the OTC. It's a privilege to live there and I want to make the most of it.
This change in attitude didn't come overnight, and wasn't spurred only by the program restarting, it took many months to work it out. Living on my own, working a bit, training on my own taught me how to be more responsible and value things that I took for granted before. I learned how to maximize training efficiency, how to get a little bit of balance in my life, how to be a semi-normal person, and, really, just grew up. It's cliché but true, and gave me a better appreciation of things.
In January, I moved back into the dorms, only one room over from where I'd lived for the better part of five years. It's strange, in ways, being back and in others not at all. Each day of training is dedicated to a specific goal, all working towards larger projects and races in the future.
The first big project of the year is Track World Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico. As I'm sitting here, in the Mexican resort/oasis/paradise preparing for my first race of the weekend, I'm thinking back to where I was both physically and mentally just a year ago and how much has changed in that time. I feel as fit, relaxed, and prepared as I've ever been. I'm confident in my own abilities and those of my teammates that we'll perform as well as we're capable. In the end, it doesn't matter what anyone else can- or will- do in a race because all you can do is give all you can. That's it.
Like each day of training, I'm approaching today's 500m TT carefully, relaxed, and with the confidence of knowing that I can do well.
Thanks for reading.