Catching Up with Haley Daniels

These have not been easy days. In any journey there are uncertainties and road blocks on route to the final destination and over the years I have thought of thousands of barriers that would prevent me from achieving my goal, but I can say without a doubt I did not see this coming. At this time, I was supposed to be in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil for our final Olympic Qualifications at the Pan Am Championships – it was unfortunately postponed until next April like so many of the things around us being put on hold.

In a way, being a high-performance athlete has prepared me for this very time in our lives. We paddle on a white-water course where the water is constantly changing, and no river is the same. We must adapt quickly to get down the race course as quickly as possible.

Things have changed for all of us. With the gyms and public parks being closed we are unable to get on the water or in the gym as a team – so we have had to adapt and be resilient. Our solution is that every day at 9:00 am our team calls in for video gym where we find things within our house to do a workout with and we do the entire workout together – I never realized how much I liked training with my team until it was no longer an option. My paddling workouts are now inside on a simulation paddle machine called an erg and my bike workouts have been on a wind trainer – all from the comfort of my basement and living room.

What this past week has taught me:

  1. We are all in this together – the entire world is affected by this in some way or another so it’s more important than ever to support our loved ones and reach out to our community as we all can get lonely sometimes.
  2. It’s okay to be mad or upset – when our qualifications were cancelled and then the Olympics were postponed, I was initially frustrated and found myself unsure of how to move forward. The next day I picked myself up and reminded myself that all I can control is training within my means and staying healthy – so that’s what I did, and I am continuing to do.
  3. Mindfulness, journaling and breathing – the simple act of breathing is sometimes forgotten in high stress situations. As athletes we are away from home so often that I found I lacked a routine. This inspired a daily morning ritual - 10 minuets of guided meditation through an app called Buddhify followed by some brief journaling to reflect on my thoughts and set an intention for the day. Finished with 10 – 20 minutes of yoga to get the blood flowing and the joints ready to rumble. I am grateful that this has been carried into these days at home in this pandemic.
  4. We get another year to come back stronger – my goal was to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as the first ever wave of females to compete in the category of women’s canoeing where Tokyo is the first time our sport will be gender equitable. The goal is still the alive, just delayed by a year #Tokyo2021. I get another year to work on my technique, mental toughness, core stability and hopefully it will pay off. I have been waiting 11 years for my qualification opportunity to compete in the Olympics – so what’s one more year in the grand scheme of things?
  5. We get to slow down – My sport psychologist always talks about reframing our self-talk so it is positive. Instead of saying “I have” to do something by simply reframing it to “I get to” it makes it more manageable and optimistic in our minds. So, my mantra right now is I get to be at home and work on being a better athlete.
  6. Lastly, this is so much bigger than sport – although I was at peak physical condition and ready for the Pan Am Championships, I am happy to have them postponed ensuring the safety of the people in my life that are at risk. We will be able to get back to our regular lives soon, but for now take the time to rest, chill, and learn something new because I am pretty certain when things go back to normal we will miss this down time.

Keep moving, stay strong and trust in the wisdom of uncertainty!


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