Emma-Kate Lidbury takes stock of her 2014 and finds it’s been more profitable than she first thought.
As the end of the year approaches, it is natural to look back on the past 12 months and evaluate what has unfolded. Regardless of which walk of life we come from – athletes, executives, parents, students – we all need to take stock of what has worked and what has not. Many triathletes will look back at a season’s results and make judgments: how many trophies did I win, how many PBs did I set, how many teammates did I beat? (Yes, we are all guilty of enjoying that latter one!).
This is, of course, a perfectly reasonableway to appraise a year’s work, but for me – this year especially – it would not be an accurate reflection of the gains made or the work undertaken. When it comes to races won or podiums achieved, I have had more successful seasons. This year was one plagued with injury and illness that sidelined me at a key time. Frustrating, yes – and incredibly challenging. But now I’m looking back, I see the truth what so many people told me at the time: “In the toughest times we learn the most.”
Back then, I wrote that off as BS that was being used to placate me, but now that I’m fit, healthy and training well I completely see the value of this. You might be an injured athlete, you might have lost your job or a loved one – in whatever guise adversity hits us, it hits us all, but I sincerely appreciate now that if dealt with in the right way it can be an opportunity for growth, change, evolution and improvement. You just have to let it.
By being forced to take a step back from training and racing it meant I had plenty of time to assess what had been working for me and what hadn’t. It enabled me to think about what I wanted to do. In short, it allowed me to learn the art of resilience and truly begin to understand what it means to keep believing in yourself when things aren’t going so well. Every athlete – professional or amateur – is stronger for such knowledge and every athlete goes through something similar. It’s how you deal with it that alters your path.
As I look back at the year, I see that I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t faced that adversity. I am settling in to a new life in a new city, San Francisco. I am working with my coach Matt Dixon every day and training with the rest of the purplepatch crew. It is great fun and an ideal triathlon training ground. Both Matt and I firmly believe this new set-up will yield my greatest chance of success next year and help me really raise my game and achieve my full potential. It will not be without challenging times, hard work and rigorous training, but I feel well equipped and ready to throw myself in to 2015 with great vigour and gusto.
Before all of that, of course, there’s Christmas to look forward to and I’ll be back in the UK for three weeks. It has been a year since I was back in Blighty, so I’m hugely excited to see family and friends once again. Without a doubt, the toughest part of being based in the US is being away from my family, so I will cherish the love and warmth of those I love more than ever this Christmas. When the time comes to say farewell and return Stateside I will look forward to another year ahead, knowing I am a stronger, more resilient athlete than the one who left Heathrow the year before. I have the very same potential, but a greater belief in it – and a greater willingness to see it realised.
Whatever your year looked like this year, I encourage you to appraise it with kindness, learn from it, bank that knowledge and look forward to a 2015 that is full of success and happiness. Have a happy and healthy new year.
Emma-Kate Lidbury Age 33 Achievements Winner of six Ironman 70.3 titles (2011-2013) About EK is a journalist turned pro triathlete. She’s sponsored by Anthem Media Group, Felt, Osmo Nutrition, Morris Owen Accountants and Virtua. Visit eklidbury.co.uk or follow her @eklidbury