Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017! The past year has certainly offered it's full share of adventures, challenges, personal victories and lessons learned. Per typical I've been spending time reflecting the events of the past year in preparation for that which is to come, and thankfully the off-season has provided plenty of opportunities to do so. In many ways it's been refreshing to take this transitional period at a much slower pace, while purposefully maintaining a blank slate in regards to 2017 racing plans. Mentally, it has allowed me to focus more on the present, which equates to swimming, biking, running out of enjoyment for the sport rather than "training." Physically it has kept me from rushing the recovery and rebuilding process, which hopefully will pay dividends later down the road.
While I don't plan to write a long post recapping highs and lows of my season, here are a few major takeaways from my year:
Failure is not something to be feared.
My personal quote for 2016 was:
"In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure"-Bill Cosby
Well, the 2016 season started with my anxiously setting a goal that was way FAR outside my comfort zone, and I distinctly remember coach Jim having to pry it out of me during our annual planning meaning. I wanted to train harder than I've ever trained and see where it would take me and, if the cards fell in my favor, possibly earn myself a ticket to the Ironman World Championships. In many ways this goal was AND continues to be a stretch goal - but I am choosing to pursue it anyway. The fear of failure will always be there, but my desire to explore the "what if" simply outweighs it. I will never find out what I am capable of unless I try. With that I am slowly redefining the meaning of "failure" in my mind by learning to embrace setbacks and the many lessons they have to offer. Pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone means being open to taking risks and making myself vulnerable to failure: you cannot have one without the other. With that comes the need for acceptance (easier said than done) and realization that the journey doesn't have to be pretty or perfect to be productive. Progress over perfection.
Make the most of every moment.
I've had a lot of great moments in the past year - running rim to rim to rim of the Grand Canyon, finishing my 3rd ironman and surviving my toughest block of training yet! However 2016 has also featured many, many lows where I literally had to pick myself up off the ground, dust off my pride and, in the words of coach, "suck it up and get tougher." Similiar to the above, I'm learning to accept that the highs and lows will always be there - that will never change. With that I'm also learning that each moment of the journey has something valuable to offer, and EVERY piece of the process serves a purpose when it comes to my growth as a person and athlete. Progress does not come just by nailing workouts and sticking to my training schedule, but also by enduring the moments of struggle and suffering in the many challenges training and life throws our way. Success is not so much a destination, but in making the most every opportunity including those disguised as potholes and detours along the way.
"Success is not a destination, but the road that you're on. Being successful means that you're working hard and walking your walk every day. You can only live your dream by working hard towards it. That's living your dream."
Community is what makes the journey worthwile.
2016 featured a record number of miles for me, with plenty of milestones and memories along the way. Yet at the forefront of my mind are not the numbers or PR's, but the people who have supported me along the way. I am incredibly rich when it comes to the community of supporters that have and continue to believe and invest in the pursuit of my goals. All of my accomplishments, successes and achievements mean little if I cannot share them with others, and above all things I am grateful for the community of supporters that have made my journey worthwhile. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
A few of my favorite people ...
A Look Ahead at 2017
Right now, I cannot tell you what all 2017 has in store for me as I'm still in the process of figuring that out. I CAN tell you that I am turning 30 in May and plan to celebrate accordingly (with a race... duh!). I am revisiting the words I sharedlast year - it's ok to not have a clear picture of the path towards your destination so as you are willing to step forward in faith - and for once I'm content with not having a clear cut plan and am looking forward to seeing where the road leads.
Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017! I'm greatly looking forward to all that's in store for the year to come!
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and endurance athlete residing in southwest Virginia alongside her husband and dog. Through this blog she aims to share favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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