I was running on the treadmill alone the other day in the gym of my apartment complex. (There was a light rain here in L.A., which is the equivalent of Armageddon; no chance of going outside to train). I was likely alone because it was Christmas Eve, and everyone else was doing something much more festive. But I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing.
Sets of 4-minute intervals are interesting, especially on a treadmill with a mirror in front of you. There’s a lot of time spent trying not to watch the clock and just staring at yourself as you run. This sounds corny as hell (no more censorship since this is posted on my personal website!), but I couldn’t stop seeing my nine-year-old self.
Recently my life has been a lot like running on a treadmill. I have to keep moving to stay on my feet. I do my training, which leaves me physically sore and mentally drained. I launched Techne Futbol, my own business, for which I manage every aspect except the technical development of the app. I also recently got a puppy, Ajax, which I knew was going to be a lot of work, but didn’t know it was this much work. Look at this face, though.
So it’s easy - and sometimes healthier - to operate on autopilot, or just keep moving like the treadmill does. But when I ‘get off’ the treadmill, I have time to think and reflect. These last few years of my playing career have not been the easiest for me. I’ve found myself falling from a contender for the National Team to what often feels like an anonymous contributor in the NWSL. I still approach my job with the same professionalism as I always have. I’ve even been working to form a Players Association to give NWSL pros a voice and improve our communication throughout the league. My business has been a massive investment of my time and energy as well. So right now I’m giving a lot of myself to some things that sometimes don’t provide the return I’d hope for.
As an NWSL player, I have no regular income in the off-season. I go out and train every day, and nobody but me really sees or cares. I spend hours on my computer working on minutia to create a functioning business that I hope one day will flourish.
Every few weeks, I hit a breaking point. I can’t seem to remember why I do what I do. I could easily care a lot less, do a lot less, and still get the same results in the short term. So, actually, why am I doing this?
Honestly, I’m not completely sure I know. But it’s connected to the core of who I am.
Recently, I re-did a promo video for Techne that includes a short video clip of me training as a 12-year-old. I interact daily with players who are just like I was - young and hopeful - with dreams, and the willingness and desire to do anything possible to achieve them. I guess when that’s who you are inside, it simply doesn’t change. The only way I know how to train is like that 12-year-old with the excitement and eagerness to master my craft. The only way I know how to push is with the urgency of the nine-year-old who KNEW, clear-eyed and never wavering, that she wanted to be a professional soccer player and nothing else. That is who I am, despite any external reinforcement or lack thereof. And that’s the same look and feeling I had as I watched myself run on the treadmill.
My new business is about building a product—an app—that offers a large piece of the experience that has shaped who I am. It's also about building a community of people who appreciate this.
So, I’ve found myself busier than ever by far, and I guess the reason I’m doing all this is the same reason it’s been since I was nine. Faith. Faith that in life if you do your very best, consistently, over time, with the right intention and full commitment, you will gain a level of mastery and understanding that is worth every moment of the journey.
I see that faith in the serious-beyond-her-years eyes of my nine-year-old self; I see it in the training of the 12-year-old me who was on a mission; and I still see it in my eyes as I run on the treadmill.