It Takes Money...
We have ALL heard the line: It takes money to make money. And we all know it’s true too. Since the unveiling of my e-book, “Why You’re Not a Track Star” my inboxes across all my social media platforms and email addresses have been filling up with young eager athletes asking me what it takes.
I want to say the usual things…
an unwavering belief in yourself…
an impressive unparalleled work ethic…
I’m not saying that those characteristics aren’t useful, but I am saying that it’s not enough.
Let’s back up though.
Some of us aren’t in this to make money. So let’s replace the latter half of the cliche with: to be elite.
It takes money to be elite.
But for those of us still uncomfortable with talking money, let's replace the first part with another word: support.
It takes support to be elite.
Today I was taking a look at my American Express credit card statement and I thought, “this season is costing me so much money.” But at the same time it’s also been the best season of jumping I’ve had (not including championships).
So you’re probably wondering what I need to spend money on right? After all don’t the meet directors pay for my travel, my rooms, my meals?
I’m so glad you asked…
The meet directors do pay for some of my travel but not all- AND this is definitely not standard for every athlete attending the meet either. I used to fly economy at the beginning of my career- when I had no money and no choice. But after my back injury in 2013 traveling in economy class back and forth overseas was almost unbearable. Economy comfort, and economy plus cabins started to pop up but the problem was the same. I needed to lay flat on those long flights.
Let me explain to you some of the costs I incur on the circuit.
The first time you whip out your credit card to pay for your business class ticket to travel to your first meet of the year you will feel sick to your stomach. That’s thousands of dollars you have no idea you’ll get back. You’re sitting there typing in your passenger info wondering if you’re in shape enough to make the cost of this ticket back in prize money. You’re second guessing your training, you’re texting your coach begging for reassurance. You hit “book now” and that rock in your gut settles deeper. I remember thinking, “I need a drink” I was so stressed.
But you get to the airport, and you’re feeling yourself because you can get fast tracked through check-in and security, you don’t have to bother with packing light your luggage allowance is generous.
You see other athletes at the gate…and you can’t help but feel some kind of way when they announce “now boarding business class” and you’re the only one who stands up.
At this point I’d like to ask how much you think feeling THIS good ahead of a competition is worth?
Think on that for a bit…I’ll keep going.
When it’s safe to move about the cabin you pop up to the business class bathroom and change into your compression tights and sweats. You head back to your seat, you either decide to eat or skip the meal…but either way you’ve never been so comfortable in your life!
You fall asleep.
How ever many hours later you arrive at your destination and to your surprise you actually feel rested. So that shakeout your coach asked you to do upon arrival is actually possible this time. The jet lag will still hit you in a few days but it’ll be way less intense than it had been in the past.
You forget how sick buying that ticket made you feel.
Unless you are a medalist in an individual event you’re probably going to have a roommate and odds are it’ll be someone you’ve never met before. I don’t know about you but I don’t do well in those situations. I suddenly become too aware of the other person…afraid to chew too loudly, afraid to go to the bathroom, afraid to touch the air conditioner, afraid the light of my laptop screen will be too disruptive, afraid to talk on the phone. All of that.
Eventually, I would open my laptop and from my twin bed in a double room I’m sharing with a stranger I’d book another room in the same hotel and disappear. See…more money-gone. But that feeling of opening a hotel room door, to a space only occupied by you is an incredible feeling. I cannot count how many times I’ve done this or add up how much it’s cost me.
And now that I train in Europe housing costs me too. Airbnb has been a godsend when it comes to renting houses for the time that I’m here. But again…more money-gone.
Typically the meet directors have three meals catered for the duration of the meet. The banquet hall or ballroom is open at specific times for each meal, and you eat whatever is there.
Ask any current professional track athlete when the last time they saw me at a meal was.
The answer is….they haven’t. Not because the food is bad (I wouldn’t really know actually) but because my diet was/is the biggest game changer between my mediocre phase and my current elite phase in this sport and I guard it ferociously when I’m at meets. That might mean taking expensive cab rides in Shanghai to an even more expensive Morton’s Steakhouse, or ordering room service for every meal for three or four days. But it’s become somewhat of a joke that if you’re hungry you can find me and I’ll be able to tell you where to eat, in any country I’ve competed in.
**I bet most of y’all don’t know about that out of the way California Pizza Kitchen in Kawasaki that makes a mean ribeye steak platter.** ;-)
Those are just “on the road” costs. I haven’t even talked about “at home” and I won’t…this post will get way too long but imagine the cost of the following:
Fresh Market Groceries
Massage Therapy (2 sessions/week)
Chiropractor (2 sessions/week)
Yoga (1-2 private sessions/week)
Some of you might be thinking…I’m being fancy- that I don’t HAVE to get my groceries from Fresh Market, or I could go to a group Yoga Class instead of a private one…my answer to you is this:
NO. I. CANNOT.
Because this is what I’ve learned I need in order to be the athlete I want to be. And this is the entire point of this blog-
it takes a lot.
It takes mindfulness to figure out under what circumstances you feel and compete at your best and it's up to you to recreate those circumstances EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.
I am unapologetic about it,
I often get teased about it.
But even if I don’t see returns as dollars in my bank account, I do see them in my medal count.
Which in my case is practically the same thing.
So ask yourself, work backwards if you must, what kind of life you want to live…
what kind of career you want to have…
and then ask yourself what you’re willing to pay for it…
because it will cost.