As a season progresses your training must taper off as an athlete in order to peak at the right time. When you practically compete year round, finding that peak point continues to be rather difficult. You have to decide when you think it should take place, months in advance. Then when it passes, for better or for worse, you are normally competing for several more weeks or even months. I tend to lose a great deal of weight during the tapering period, anywhere from 8 to 12 pounds. Losing that weight can give you confidence and take it away. "I'm ten pounds lighter so I should be able to get more pop out of the same poles." "I'm ten pounds lighter, so I must be weaker" These are just a few examples. But it is nice to be bigger. Not just the physical strength but the poise that comes along with it. You walk taller. I used to be 180-185 most of the year. Since I have been injured I have been between 170 and 175. When I returned from a training camp in South Africa in 2007 I was 195 lbs and 3% body fat. The biggest I have ever been, and it felt great. I felt so confident and powerful walking around, but the vault was not so great. I didn't know how to manage the strength. It only lasted a month anyway after my return home, as i quickly shed the pounds with the onslaught of work, coaching, and other life related stress that literally sucks the strength right out of you. Probably for the better though cause as the weight fell off, my results were higher as I jumped 5.55m by the end of the spring season before I tried to land on the standard and rip the insides of my left ankle and lower leg into fragments of what was once a beautifully operating piece of equipment. But I'm getting on a tangent again, and some misdirection, apologies. For 5.55m is meaningless when you think of 5.90m, which is what I thought I was capable of upon my return, and the size poles I was jumping on were big enough to do just that. The point I was getting at was, that when i was in Africa, I had no job, I had not a single responsibility outside of training and vaulting. I worked out twice a day, 7 days a week, including Christmas and new years. I ate right, and a lot, and I didn't have to pay for it. Eating healthy gets expensive.
I remember asking myself, "is this how Olympic Athletes get so good? Is this the definition of a full-time athlete?" The light bulb was suddenly turned on. It made sense at the time, and I made a vow to myself to do my best to remain a full-time athlete upon my return to the US. Well, as you can guess, that never happened. Regular life took over once again, and the superior athlete, out of body experience, was soon over. Never again had I felt it, what I like to call "full-time athlete". Recently I have decided to try and achieve this goal once again. I have no money coming in and hardly any money going out, my bank accounts are wiped clean and my credit card balance is evolving into something scarier than the monsters in your closet that made you pull your blanket over your head as a child and cower in fear. However, I still think I can pull it off (not the blanket, but the whole full-time athlete gig). I am making great sacrifices already and removing all unwanted drama and stress from my life, unnecessary expenses, and distractions. My commitment level jumped from like an 8 to a 10. 10 being a level that I never knew myself to be truly capable of. If you know me, you know I don't like commitment, in any way. It takes away a feeling of freedom that I hold very dear to my heart. After all these years, I'm finally ready to let that freedom go and this tells me a great deal.