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  • Jani Brajkovic

Lessons I've learned

What have I learned throughout my career, what really matters, and how protecting rider's health is something nobody cares about....



A few days ago, I was thinking; how did my way of thinking, acting and reacting to certain life events changed throughout career as a cyclist.

I was asked to write about lessons I've learned so far.


By any means, I'm not considering myself as the smartest most intelligent, or someone who never made any mistakes in life. But I can certainly say, I'm very empathic, care about others, and many of my actions reflect that....many times in expense of hurting my own wellbeing.



Being an introvert, I always kept my feelings, my worries, and events that hurt me, for myself. I'd push them deep down the soul, and hope they never surface up.

It didn't work, in fact, when things went south, they would always come to the forefront and make things even worse, confirming what my subconscious mind was telling me, being useless, not good enough, a person without future...


It wasn't until last year when I had to deal with positive test, when I decided to deal with everything.

It was, either I was gonna fight it, deal with everything, every dark though I've had and try to get the best out of the worst situation, or.....I was just gonna give up, and surrender, play a victim card, blaming others for my live.


What made the biggest difference, was my family, my few very close friends.

Giving up, wasn't an option, if not doing it for myself, it was for my kids, my spouse, family.....


That's how I started thinking in a bit different way.

You see, nowadays, especially with emergence of social media, everyone feels obliged to have an opinion. And opinions from people that have no idea who I was, what I'm going through, hurt me the most....but why? Did I care too much?


I realised, that, when you have a purpose in life, you need to go "all in", put all the energy into that one thing, follow the plan, no matter what others say. Many times those negative comments will be a result of others feeling bad about themselves, because they're unhappy with their lives, and bringing others to that low level, makes them feel better....


Breaking point of my life came in 2011 when I had very bad experience with one of my friends...

Long story short, ever since, I felt betrayed, played, ripped off. And honestly, I was never able to get over it, even though I thought I was.

It was in the past six months, that everything changed....

In fact, couple of weeks ago, I met this person coincidentally.... I felt, nothing, no hate, no resentment, no bad feelings. I actually felt good about talking to him. It was an awesome experience.

We all walk on different paths, and many times people will hurt you, not because they want you to suffer, but because they will benefit from the situation/action. Some actions are moral, some not so much.

That said, It's still work in progress. I'm on the right track, and there's always gonna be ups and downs, things that will make me sad and anxious, but when you let go, and do what makes you happy, follow your purpose, and forgive (but not forget), that heavy backpack you've been carrying for years, becomes lighter and lighter.


Just the fact, that when I focus on positive (no pun intended) things, approach everything with positive mood and belief, bring more positive than negative results, make me realise, that everything is possible...EVERYTHING.

At the end of a day, it's about happiness, family, having people you can spend time with, and not about having millions in the bank. Millions help but are not sufficient for happiness, not even conditional!


I'm not alone in this. There are so many other athletes suffering.

Once you experience it, you realise, many, many others are going through the same path.

But in our sport, it's a taboo. You need to man up, be a tough guy, not care about emotions, because "weak" people cry, feel sad and depressed.


Last year I talked with UCI about some of the problems, health related serious problems. Problems, I never talked to anyone else about....

They said, thanks, we'll have our medical team call you... That call never came. It crushed me even more. All they care about is antidoping to justify their existence, but ignore the mental and physical state of a rider.

For a rider, just by having a person they can talk with, about problems, a psychologist, would already be a win. It wouldn't take a big investment to do big improvements in an area of health.


Another topic that's near and dear to my heart, is TBI diagnosing, prevention and treatment.

In our sport it's seen as "not a big deal". If TBI is diagnosed, rest and dark room is prescribed...

After educating myself about it, I realised, It's huge. Long term consciences can be devastating, from CTE, neurodegenerative diseases, hormone disregulation, causing all sorts of problems, like depression, PTSD etc...

Things like red light therapy, diet, light exercise, supplementation with creatine, DHA, ketones and other things was shown to dramatically help with recovery...but for now it's rest, and take some paracetamol (acetaminophen)-which will kill you if you take more than 4g/day.

There are many other things on my mind, but for now, I guess it's enough. Hope some of you, reading it, even if you think it's BS content, start thinking critically and be open to other ideas, possibilities.


Thanks


JB


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