I enjoy new challenges, diversity, and change. This manifests itself in all aspects of my life, but especially in athletics – where there is complete, and unabated freedom to pursue your passion each time you walk out the door. Despite this, sometimes I find myself in a bit of a rut, and lack the activation energy to go do what I love.
For most of us, we have numerous constraints on time due to job, families, and other social responsibilities. Consequently, we don’t own our schedules and sometimes, things can get stale. I was certainly feeling this way a few months after wrapping shooting for Boundless in December. Initially, I was overtrained, under-recovered, and happy to take time off but settling into winter was turning out to be far more sedentary than anticipated, despite living in Canmore. I knew I should be training to prepare for season two of Boundless, but lacked the will power to commit to big hours most days. I don’t know if it was the short days, colder weather, or general burnout. It was probably the combination of all three. Although things were good – I felt that they could be much better. For lack of a better description, I was in a bit of a rut.
The solution for me came in taking a one-month sabbatical to Cape Town, South Africa to reinvigorate myself. My father lives there so it would be an excellent opportunity to catch up, but also get some time in the sun and some warm weather training. Prior to this trip, I never saw any value in destination training camps, feeling that I could achieve the same results training at home. I’m definitely not of that opinion anymore.
While I’ve been able to use the time down here as a training camp, I find that I’m in a more relaxed mindset overall and approach my work obligations in a more stress-free way. I’m also a firm believer in setting goals, so I registered for the Cape Argus – the world’s largest cycling race with over 30,000 competitors riding the ~110 KM route around the Cape. Training several hours a day over the past few weeks, both cycling and running, in a fantastic climate, with endless trails, routes, and decent elevations has rejuvenated my enthusiasm for training and competition. An added bonus of being self-propelled, I’ve been able to explore the Cape area in a mode more important for me, as I learn about region by taking in the sounds, smells, and sights in a slower, more open way – I guess it’s akin to smelling the roses.
Some of the highlights include discovering the contour trail on Table Mountain, which was a 3+ hour out and back trail run from Constantia Nek park. Feeling the joy of running, coupled with discovery was so invigorating, I found myself actually whooping at points where the trail became especially picturesque. What made it even better was that the trail was full of other runners – it was a solo, but not solitary experience and I exchanged greetings with each runner. The same has been true on the bike – as I’ve been able to ride with friendly local pros such as Oli Munnik, who shares the same vibe. It’s amazing the camaraderie that exists between like-minded people, regardless of where they live.
My time here has reminded me that it’s always important for us to step-back from our day to day and take a critical look at our lives. Are things getting stale? Are we in a rut? Are there obvious solutions? For many, change, even small ones, is not easy, however it’s often the only way we can rejuvenate ourselves. I’m reminded of this each time I step out of my door here in Hout Bay, SA and head out into the unknown with a simple question in my head – how many baboons will I see on my ride today?