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Al Stevenson on life after professional athletics
A few years ago, I made a pretty big decision. After a successful career as a professional runner, which saw me qualify for two Olympics, I decided to retire.
Why? Well, to put it simply, I hadn’t achieved what I knew I was capable of achieving and that came down to hating being away from home and my family and friends (six months of the year was spent in the US & Europe). Plus, after qualifying for the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and being injured before both events, I knew that I couldn’t give 110% to the sport and it was time to move on to a new chapter and start a family. 

Walking away from something you have shed blood, sweat & tears for is always hard, but for me, I had lost my passion for athletics. Still, I knew though that the discipline athletics had instilled in me of working hard & working towards a goal would set me up for whatever I chose to pursue post my athletics career. 

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely miss the feeling of winning races or running P.Bs. There was no greater high than achieving your goals or racing in front of 50,000 people. But I try to never look back. It’s about moving forward with no regrets. 

And at the end of the day, competing professionally was harder than working full time. There were no holidays, no down time and nowhere to hide. It was a constant quest to get fitter, faster, stronger.  

Now I find training more enjoyable. When I competed, I trained seven days a week, five of which were double sessions covering up to 160 kilometres a week. Now it’s a nice easy jog 10-20 kilometres but only four to five times a week and it’s more about managing the stress and pressure of work or other issues I have going on in my life.  

To me, keeping fit is how I find balance in my life. It keeps me in a good routine and it gets me out and about with my mates. A lot of my lifelong friends are runners so we all still catch up for runs and then maybe have a beer or two after a good run. It used to be protein shakes or sports drinks now it’s a beer or coffee. 

So, my advice to anyone wanting to run or achieve anything in sport or business is to do it for the right reason. You can achieve anything if you are passionate about it and you are willing to work hard to achieve your goals. BELIEVE! 

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