Today marks the one year countdown to the 2012 London Olympic Games. I wonder how many athletes are posting or commenting about this milestone? Tons, I'm sure. Twitter is probably all kinds of CRAZY!
There's a reason for that. The REAL countdown begins today.
The life of an Olympian is thought out in 4 year cycles. First is the year AFTER the Olympics. This is the year where you have some down time to experience the post-Olympic slump. Everyone gets it - even the casual viewer at home ;) There is always so much hype and build up towards a Games that it usually takes some time to decompress and re-focus…except for those who were on the cusp of making it - they are more motivated than ever!
Next comes the awkward 2nd year after an Olympics. New faces begin to emerge in sport and older experienced competitors are still recovering. Results can be misleading because the best often aren't at their best. They don't have to be for another 2 years. This time in the cycle is when you feel like you still have a lot of time left. There's not too much urgency. You're just trying to re-align with your "excellence" footing. It's kind of like Wednesday morning - 2 days of the week are done, but you still have 3 more to go.
Wednesday afternoon however is when momentum starts to build…this is what the third year's like. This is when things start to get serious. You can see the Olympics over the horizon, but they are still pretty dim and blurry. You still sometimes put important things off until tomorrow. Celebrations are long over - focus becomes imperative. Results are important because you need to start re-establishing your reputation. Training become your main priority again. You start saying no to distractions. You start feeling the groove. Media starts to get interested in you (who?) again. Pressure begins to build.
And finally, we come to where we are today - ONE year out!
At this point in an Olympians cycle, they turn the corner in their preparation. 366 days feels much different than the monumental 365! 364, 363, 362…it seems like you have a lot of time left and then it's 152, 151, 150…before you know it, the one month countdown is on! Mantras and mottos start to form. "No Regrets" is always a good one. So is "Today not tomorrow". You start to make the most of every moment. Each turn is an important turn. Physio, Chiro, Massage and visits to your Nutrionist seem even more important. Media starts calling ("Yo bitches, this is the MEDIA calling! You're important to us now. Answer the phone!"). I'm one of them now. You better not screen my calls! People start asking you if you're going to be ready. Those extra 2 lbs shave off, the journal starts to fill with plans, thoughts and victories. You start to notice the Olympic Rings everywhere you go. The big sponsors start kicking up their promotions - Have you had a coke or a cheeseburger today? You have a constant reminder of how close you are to the imminent deadline. Your heart pounds a little louder at night when you visualize the competition. You wake up in the morning and PURPOSE oozes from your pours. Your reason for pushing yourself beyond your point of comfort every single day is tattooed on your mind. You can't help but get excited when thinking about red Maple Leafs. You can't help but get a little scared when you think about everyone watching. You can taste success and your focus begins to narrow. Filmstrips of Olympic dreams coming true begin to play in your mind. You have a solid reason behind every decision you make in your life for the next year. And guess what? For the next year, this is your life. It needs to be. You are so much better off when you embrace it.
To every athlete preparing for the London 2012 Games, I wish you an amazing journey over the course of the next year. May it be filled with laughter, tears, sweat, joy, excitement, stress, pressure and brilliant lessons learned. This is YOUR time to turn on the switch and show yourself how great you can be!