I've always identified as an athlete.
It was something I discovered when I was young, and then almost became an expectation of me from my family. I was the athletic one - the brute. For me to be out of shape has always been unacceptable, and I feel the pressure of my family when that happens. Because of this, even when I'm not in the best shape when I'm not training I tend to feel lost. Who am I if I'm not an athlete? I'm not a general gym-goer. I am more than that. I have pushed my body to limits in sports where other women have not. I despise working out for the sake of working out. To workout is to train for an event. When I'm not training, I prefer to play. I always eventually return to training, but I've been struggling since having my kids in finding my place in the athlete scene. I'm not ready to give it up, but I don't know who I am anymore. Who the hell am I? Where does that inner athlete fit in now that I'm in my 40s? I'm fine being a Masters Athlete, but what's my sport?
I really don't feel like I'm alone. Many athletes go through a depressive period after an injury when their athletic course is drastically changed, or their recovery keeps them away from training for extended periods of time. Many of them know no other life than being an athlete and haven't thought beyond their current competition needs. When injury changes their path, not knowing who they are and what to do can make them immobilized. Totally stuck in direction, and I feel that many of us who were active in our pre-kid lives experience the same.
I'm waking up after an eight-year hiatus from real training.
Having kids spun me around and disoriented me. My path of being a rower was blocked (physically and emotionally) and I've been trying different paths to get back to that athlete I am, but none of the paths seem quite right. I keep turning back and hiding out plotting out my next move, instead of moving forward and exploring the different walkways that stem from the main trail. Sometimes it's a family need that calls me back. Sometimes it's a logistics issue.
Mostly it's me becoming insecure that I'm on the right path - I'm not confident that it will lead me to my goal.
However, I'm on the brink of something new.
My youngest starts full-day kindergarten tomorrow, which mean entire days that aren't planned around keeping my kids engaged and neglecting my own needs because I am the worst at addressing my own needs. Suddenly I'm feeling hopeful that I could start making this athletic return. And what a good time - women between 40 and 50 years is one of the fastest growing age groups in Masters athletic competition. Running and triathlons tend to be the most popular. Not my strengths, but trail running and obstacle course racing are pulling at my interest strings. There's always going back to weightlifting. I still love my rowing, but it's going to take a bit more planning to get back to that - it's not ruled out. I'm excited to try this and really to stick to something instead of giving up. I want to stop being afraid to be successful - I really want to rock it and be great. I know it's in me, but I have to stop self-sabbatoging my efforts and let it come out.
So what else do I have to overcome to successfully make this happen?
- Fear of failure
- Shame of my current physical shape
- Fear of pain and injury
- Fear of being too old
- Not putting myself first, at least sometimes
The funny thing is that I have an answer for all of these.
I coach women on these things. I know how to eat and move to prevent injury and recover from pain. I know the differences between training as a 20-year-old and training over 40. I have the support at home to accomplish this goal, but I just have to say yes to it and no to the other conceived needs that really don't exist. As far as fear of failure and shame - I have to work through those on my own because they will continue to come up but only hold power if you listen to their messages (which are a bunch of BS).
I am not 20 anymore, nor do I want to be.
I'm loving my 40s. I'm more self-assured in other areas of my life. I'm settled. I have a life that I really do love, but it's just missing this part. I am ready to step out again and reclaim my title of "athlete".
I know now that this title holds more to it than simply status and an outstanding body - and I'm OK with neither of those being the result of this path. I know that an athlete to me means engaging in a sport that I love, thriving in the competitive nature of it, and showing my kids what it's like to truly balance sports training and also moving your body in play.
What about you? Are you pretty settled in your post-kid identity, or is there a previous version of you that's asking to come out and play? Do any of those obstacles resonate with you? I'd love to hear about both your struggles and your successes! Also, head over to Instagram and show me how you're reclaiming your play. Simply use to tag #MidlifeMomsMove.