• Maddie Phaneuf

October 17th

I’m not sure how many of you out there keep a journal, but I like to try and write down my thoughts daily. In reality, I’m lucky if I remember to write in it once a week! Anyway, I was looking through my past entries tonight and came across an entry from exactly a year ago. It was scary how much I could still relate to what I wrote then. The entry was a handwritten blog post I was planning on publishing, but I ended up wimping out because I was afraid it was too personal. I think the fact that I found this entry one year later is a sign that I need to put it out into the world. So, without further ado…

October 17th, 2016

A lot of the time I end up writing my blog posts for the viewers, like you, and not for myself. I care a lot about how I come off to the public, and aim to please everyone…which is pretty much impossible. This post is solely for me, and if you happen to enjoy it, great. If not, then I don’t care!

So most people, including elite athletes, tend to only talk about the good times and their accomplishments. Everyone knows that there are rough times, or moments of doubt and lack of motivation, yet rarely anyone talks about them. My teammate Clare recently wrote a blog post about this exact topic, and she’s not alone. I started this training season pretty excited and motivated…and now I’m writing this in a coffee shop unsure on what my future consists of.

This summer has been full of highs and lows, successes and failures, happy moments and sad. That is all completely normal, I just feel like I tend to put on a happy face no matter how I’m feeling, because it’s much easier to not talk about how I feel. Basically, I’m tired of pretending I’m happy all of the time, when in reality I have no idea if I’m doing the right thing with my life right now. Yes, biathlon racing and being a professional athlete makes me happy. I get to experience so much of the world while doing the very thing I love! That doesn’t mean I don’t want the opportunity to do and experience other things I love doing.

There were many times this summer where I found myself wondering if I was missing out on something better, or something I would love more than biathlon. I found myself day dreaming of a life where I’m not restricted to a training plan all year, and I can go on as many adventures I want, and not have to worry about peaking (going really fast) at a certain time in the year. This may sound weird, but I’ve honestly been dreaming of what it would be like to work a day job, go to college, and find new passions…along with discovering who I am outside of being an athlete. I’ve defined myself as a professional biathlete for the past three years, going into my fourth now. That may not seem like a lot, but to me it freaks me out, because if I don’t plan my life outside of being an athlete, I could end up defining myself as a biathlete for the next twelve years (potentially…who knows). I know, anytime I say that to somebody they say “Well obviously that’s going to freak you out, you can’t think like that!” But I can’t help it. That’s what my mind likes to do; plan the future and figure out where I’ll be.

I’m not sure I want to do biathlon for that long. I want to do so many other things while I’m still in my twenties. I want to become really good at rock climbing. I want to learn how to ice climb and paraglide. I want to visit Patagonia, Chamonix, Nepal…and so much more! I want to be able to take care of myself in the wild and not be afraid. I want to be in a noncompetitive environment and get back to the basics…loving and appreciating nature and this world we live in. Obviously these are all just thoughts I’m having. It’s hard to figure out what I want to do with my life right now. The season is just around the corner, and I’m really excited to get back on snow and race around Europe. I’m interested to see how my training season will pay off and where I’ll end up on the results.

The journal I’m currently writing in has the quote “Do more of what makes you happy” printed on the cover. That’s what I need to be doing, whatever that may be. This summer my happiest moments were when I was outside on the side of a cliff trying to figure out a climbing route, or getting to the top of a long hike and soaking in the view, or being out on Lake Placid admiring the sunset while attempting to wake surf. None of these are biathlon related, which is what has been worrying me a little. Am I losing the passion and motivation? I don’t think I’ll truly know this answer until we’re actually in the middle of the race season. This will be when I figure out if biathlon racing still makes me happy and excited to keep going. But until then, I’ll be waiting for the flakes to fly!


Of course, some things have changed between then and now, but the big picture is still the same. I’ve had a lot of rough times this year. I found myself with very little motivation to train during the spring, while June was full of mental breakdowns and resisting the urge to just pack up my car and leave Lake Placid without telling anybody. July was one of the happiest months for me this year, when I traveled out to Jackson, Wyoming and spent the month exploring the mountains with my boyfriend and the rest of the Castle Crew. Coming back after that trip was really hard, and I constantly questioned if I had made the right choice for my training by going out to Wyoming.

August and September surprisingly flew by for me, but when the rest of the team was training out in Germany I found myself struggling with the hard training load and saw lots of tears from exhaustion. October has been up and down; there were many good days, but the past few days have been hard. Not racing to my expectations this past weekend left me upset and disappointed in myself. Of course I was happy with Sunday, hitting all of my targets is a great feeling…but not qualifying for the on-snow camp in Canmore was a goal of mine, and it is always frustrating when you fall short of a goal. I'm sure there will continue to be highs and lows while this season pans out, but I'll keep on fighting and embracing my emotions!

Well, that’s enough emotional writing for the night. Now you know way more about me and my inner thoughts than you ever did before. Everybody is human. Everybody has good days and bad days. Everybody feels. Even if somebody looks happy, that doesn’t mean they’re not struggling. Keep on keeping on folks.

Currently listening to: (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher by Jackie Wilson

- MP