Making sacrifices to make progress

Published on May 7th, 2019

An Olympic sailing campaign can be a lonely endeavor in which more growth occurs than any other time in a person’s life. It is an opportunity afforded to few people, and we applaud those that share the experience. Canadian singlehanded sailor Sarah Douglas, currently ranked 15th in the world, provides this update from April 2019:

So there I was, dreading the 12 hour flight and 13 hour time change to head to Japan, but knowing what I was getting into, I was a lot more prepared for the long commute. In my bag were noise cancelling headphones, Melatonin, compression socks and many other travel necessities, but then again, this wasn’t my first rodeo.

As a sailor, I really struggle to travel light and it just isn’t possible when I have to bring all of my ropes, wetsuits, a sail, and not to mention all of my clothes and gym/recovery equipment. Oh, and of course, this foodie packed almond butter and some homemade bars.

One large suitcase, one Helly Hansen 70L duffel, and a tiller and tiller extension covered my three checked items. Due to my busy sailing schedule and that #TravelLife, I have status at Air Canada and Star Alliance Gold. I get various travel privileges which includes three free checked bags.

I slept a lot on the plane and arrived in Tokyo to make the commute to the Olympic venue in Enoshima. And just like last September, there I was sweating, stressed, and overwhelmed with my heavy bags, trying to take the train for an hour with a transfer in the shockingly busy Yokohama station.

But I made it to the hotel in one piece and met up with coach for dinner. Probably one of my personal downsides of traveling is the long time alone. Traveling to and from the airport, 12 hours by yourself; it can all get pretty lonely and I sometimes struggle with that.

The long flight and massive time change might seem like a lot for eight days of training, but the trip worked in the schedule, it’s important to learn as much as we can about Japan, and when the gold medalist invites you to train at the Olympic venue, it absolutely was worth the cost and commitment to get there.

Eight days straight on the water and the training was fantastic. We got a variety of conditions and even got to see Mount Fuji on the first and last day; it was breath-taking. My coach and I came into the camp with specific goals and I am so happy with the work we accomplished.

With no rest day and a bit of jet-lag, this meant we had to manage my energy levels and deciding how much time was going to be spent in the gym. I mostly stuck to running along the river, and for those that know me well, finding out that I have been running is probably shocking.

I used to hate running, and only would do a short jog in my dynamic warm-up at the gym. I used to always tell people that I would rather do a two hour bike over a simple 30 minute run. However, I started out slow, and I mean really slow and for a short time, but I am incredibly proud to continually push myself outside of my comfort zone.

I am still very slow and I am sure my running technique is not great, but I have been running on a somewhat consistent basis for the last couple months. I went for my first 10K run before my flight home and it’s one of my proudest achievements. Progress!!!

What’s next is the 2019 European Championships on May 20-25 in Porto, Portugal.

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