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Do you call yourself an athlete?

Does your sport cover most of your daily thoughts, how you plan your day and your holidays? Do you turn your head towards anyone who wears the newest Oakley sun glasses or passes you with this extraordinary sound of a triathlon bike? While waiting on a gate do you buy the latest triathlon magazines and absorb every story written within minutes? You probably remember 90% of the article about nutrition in heat conditions but can't repeat 10% of the mails received this morning. Understood. We all do. This is pure passion.

When reading this blog you are a sports person. That's for sure. You probably have already decided on your new goals next year and started your season just recently. Passion is inevitably the driving force to live a sports life next to your family and your work life. But is this all to call yourself a real athlete? This denotation is a strong word. It is a profession. It comes not only with success and fun, it does come also with quite some responsibilities. I would therefore like to supplement the conception of being an athlete with a critical look. I am not talking about traits such as the ability to focus and to concentrate or athletic mental skills, about the way you talk to yourself, motivate yourself or handle negative race results. I will take it up a notch, dig a level deeper. I am talking about commitment, mindfulness, awareness and values.  

PASSION (Leidenschaft) - this is the strong motivational force that makes you leave the couch stepping into your running shoes or to grab your swim bag in the morning when your family members still roll in bed. When your partner hits the hay you make sure that your watch and your earphones are loaded for the bike session the next morning. The other side of the coin is that passion can lead to the inability to rest and to recover if not to constant overuse injuries being neglected most of the time. It can lead to depressive behavior when missing out a workout. Passion is needed and fruitful. But a right dose is necessary.

COMMITMENT (Hingabe) - being committed means to be the best you can within the scope of your limitations. Broken down commitment are the little decisions you make every day that make you successful. Am I going to get up even if it's crazy cold to go for a run? YES. Am I preparing a decent porridge for breakfast instead of just grabbing a sandwich from the metro stand? YES. Your status of being indecisive will most of the time be answered FOR the sake of your goal. One could also say that discipline is the outcome of being highly committed. The next decision to be made will come. Ask yourself next time if you are really committed.

MINDFULNESS (Achtsamkeit) - is the ability to regulate your attention and your focus. Being mindful means to understand how your mind works and to know your emotions. Try to understand that your thoughts are passing states so to say, they not always call for action. As a result you see your emotions more objectively and will be able to redirect your attention to your current task. When you know where your attention is you will be able to highly concentrate. Not only that. When you are mindful you are able to listen to your inner voices and to your body telling you when there's still room for pressing the accelerator pedal or when to binge watch Netflix for an evening. You show respect to your body and to your soul when being mindful.

AWARENESS (Bewusstsein, Sensibilität) - is about knowing yourself and your environment. You should be able to define your strengths and weaknesses, your boundaries and particular competencies. If you do so, you know what you are in control of and what not. Further, questions such as these should be asked: What is important to you? What are you focusing on? Where do you stand in terms of your progress, your family role, in your relationship? Is there a need for change? The more you know about yourself and the circle you live in the more proactive you can be and make better plans.

VALUES (Werte) - other than your goals your values are not limited. They are a guidance in contrast to a destination. Your values guide you through tough situations and represent the tools for your life as an athlete. You always can rely on your values: Respect - Honesty - Integrity - Professionalism - Humility - Work Ethic and Fun. Grab a coffee and honestly think about your work ethic for example: are you punctual, do you have your s*** together when swim training starts, are your tires pumped before a team ride? Can your teammates rely on you or do you rather shift responsibility to somebody else? How do you treat your coach, your contenders, your partner? How is your attitude when winning or loosing? Write it down! I am serious. Values guide your behavior. Know your values.

For being a real athlete these five qualities build the basis. And they all go hand in hand. It needs a major load of mindfulness and awareness to reveal misleading passion and to identify the point of time to let loose and to start a recovery process. Living your values in critical situations is everything else than easy and you will need to bethink yourself to your passionate long term goals in these situations. Being an athlete means being responsible for yourself, your body and your environment. You don't necessarily need to be a professional athlete to be a successful athlete. But being an athlete is not just moving your body in any sport.

After reading this, do you feel like being a real athlete? Do you see any room for progress and want to uncover yourself? Wanna talk about it? Set up a call! Yours, Katharina Steppan

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