Olympic Excitement, or Not?

As we get closer and closer to the Olympics I find myself running into the question: “Are you excited for the Olympics!?!”  The knee jerk response is of course yes, I am excited.  But if I’m being honest the only time I am really rested enough to ponder the future and consider the grandeur of the Games is right now -a Sunday afternoon (Sundays are our only day off).  Our coach, Mike Spracklen, is keeping us focused on each and every session with a very demanding program as we leave no stone unturned in finding more speed.  I am thankful that I put in the punishing miles on the lake this last year.  I don’t think my body could endure the current intensity otherwise. So, the honest answer to the question: “Are you excited for the Olympics” is that I am not really thinking about it too often.

This is always how it has been since shortly after I started in this sport.  I remember sitting in my condo back in 2009 and thinking for the first time that I could really do it; I could really make it to the Olympics if I went for it.  That is the last time I remember being truly excited, with goosebumps even, thinking about the Olympics.  This was after an erg test in the winter that I thought indicated I had some real potential (6:04 on the 2k -not very impressive now, but a momentum-booster for me at the time).  I was so excited I even called both my sisters to tell them that I thought I could get to the Olympics.

Shortly after this epiphany, this new goal became my burden and would stay that way until this very day.  I wear the stress better now, but it truly has been a struggle -more than I ever imagined- to get to the doorstep of the Games.  Looking back, I basically took a set-and-forget approach.  I set the goal in my mind that winter in 2009 and then quickly became focused on just getting to the next stroke, next training run, next practice and never further than that.  It’s still that way for me.  I’m just trying to get through the day and I’m sure if you asked any of my teammates they’d tell you the same thing.  The work keeps you firmly in the present.  There will be plenty of time for reflection after the Games.  We are doing everything we can now to make sure looking back will bring great memories and pride in having represented Canada well.

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5 Responses to Olympic Excitement, or Not?

  1. Elk Lake Sunrise says:

    Hi! I am new to reading your blog and I have to say I find your honesty and positivity very refreshing. I am a rower myself, but fairly new to the sport. It has been quite the rollercoaster already in terms of emotions and exhaustion and I can only imagine what it is like at the national level. I have been feeling lately very similar to what you have been describing about living in the moment and training day to day and really not being able to look to the future in excitement. I would have previously used the words fire and determination to describe rowing and now it is more a matter of discipline. I am not sure if this is just a bump that I have yet to overcome or a loss of passion for the sport. At one point I was able to lose myself and really go for it, aiming to be at a national level but lately I find myself questioning my mental toughness and willingness to push myself.

    So I guess what I was wondering is have there been times when you have felt this way? How did you overcome this kind of personal barrier?

    Also, how do you create a balance for yourself between aggressive, competitive rowing headspace and peaceful, open-minded headspace? I am finding that I easily get caught in aggressive rower headspace and before I know it I am speeding up to beat the man beside me crossing the street.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • Jeremiah says:

      Hi there, yes I have felt the way your feeling often. I think when you set a very challenging goal you have to expect, or you will find out, that there will be extended periods of time when you will feel it impossible to achieve your goal. You have to protect yourself from quitting by being absolutely rigid in the framework you set out to achieve your goal. For example, when I started training full time on the national team at the beginning of 2011 I was determined to spend the time left until the Olympics toward earning a spot on the team in any boat I could. I didn’t know how anything else would go, but I knew that I was committed to that chunk of time. That resolve to commit to a specific period of time has helped me through a lot of tough times. I went as far as telling myself that even if I was in last place every day I would continue. This can be dangerous mentally as it’s akin to not giving yourself a way out and it can make you feel trapped. But for very challenging goals I think you need this kind of extreme sense of perseverance, because there will be so many times when logic and reason will tell you to stop that eventually you will stop without it.

      As for balance, well it’s tricky at times. Most of the time, I have no aggression left at the end of a day -it’s all used on the water. But, if I feel like I underperformed that day I will usually be simmering the rest of the day at home. Just don’t run anyone over and you’ll be fine 😉

  2. Elk Lake Sunrise says:

    That helps a lot, thank you! I really think that choosing a period of time will make it more manageable. As for running someone over, I was actually referring to race walking across the street, I don’t have that much aggression 🙂

  3. Scott Tuttle says:

    Jerimiah,

    Just wanted to wish you and your teammates great success in the water, and since I have been involved with Team Ontario male softball since 1999 I have a lot of insight into your preperation, perserverance and dedication it takes to get to where you are at this point in your life and sport.
    We prepare our athletes for the Canada Games every, obviously in a different sport, but at the end of the day it’s another level that they have reached in their journey to play for Team Canada in the World Championships.
    You have come along way since the old ballpark, good luck to you and the team…we will be watching and cheering for Team Canada.

    Old softball coach,
    Scott Tuttle

  4. keith morris says:

    Give them hell Jerry all of cobourg is cheering you on, remarkable that your at that level good for you!

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