At many points during an athlete’s career, they will come across various transitions, education, performance and lifestyle. Identifying when these are likely to happen early makes the transitions to manage. One at a time can be easy to recognise, but the problems occur when the transitions overlap, for example a step up in education combined with a change of club and coach. During this time the athlete needs to manage balancing out the time demands and the change in workload of the education as well as developing new relationships with team mates and coaches, as well as managing different coaching patterns and expected demands.
All this can both be physically and mentally draining for the athlete and may cause higher stress levels and therefore the athlete can become prone to illness and fatigue and maybe a slump in performance which can be frustrating and again cause stress levels to rise.
So it is easy for me to talk about how things should happen and how they should be managed, but when the situation happens to me, how do I deal with multiple transitions.
Take this last month (while things have been temporarily a bit slow with ALD), after securing a position at the University of Bath as their Talented Athlete Lifestyle Officer, I have had to manage the transition of moving location, changing jobs, managing a change in personal relationships as well maintaining or wanting to increase the intensity of my training.
So how have I done? Having a month between accepting the job and my start date, gave me plenty of time to try and make the transition as smooth as possible. However life would be too easy if it all went without any disruption!
Unfortunately due to illness and other work commitments I was unable to look for accommodation until the weekend before I started, my first day was at a conference and I was needed to come home the first weekend away for a competition!
However two weeks into the job, I am happy with where I live, have managed to juggle into a new work routine and begin to build on the professional relationships within the new office, and now I have to find a club to regularly train with and fit that into my new routine. I have managed to keep a good aerobic base through joining the gym and running and swimming in my own time, maybe over doing it sometimes.
Managing the last few months have been helped by having the time to prepare and plan for the changes that are about to happen, being able to communicate with my friends and family and having the physical help to move my belongings to the new location.
I have also been fortunate that the changes have been during an off season or out of competition period for me which have meant I have been able to just maintain my fitness levels.
So my words for advice for athletes about to manage big changes in their lifestyle….. Plan, communication and take your time……there are occasions where you may have to be reactive rather than proactive, but hopefully for you these are few and far between!