That was the reality for the British woman who shot Sophie McKinna, who has been balancing her dream of Olympic fame with a job as a security guard and fitness trainer for years.
Her job with the local police is most of her income and serves as a perfect detachment from her athletic career, even if things get warmer occasionally.
“We’re like pseudo-Palikaras. If people start starting, we’re dealing with it that way, it’s an interesting job,” he told CNN Sport.
Rejection of funding
The nature of the job requires McKinna to remain calm in some test situations, but it is a challenge she enjoys as her leftovers continue to grow.
“You come in and it’s different every day,” he said. “You don’t know what you’re going to get.
“I really like my job and it gives me that space away from sports.”
The recent lock only highlighted how important this distraction is for McKinna, who has been temporarily removed from her role to keep herself safe from the virus.
She has managed to continue her education in her garden but finds it difficult to live, sleep and practice in the same place.
That’s why McKinna chose to reject funding from British Athletics earlier this year, a move that saw it cut. 15,000 a year and the opportunity to become fully professional.
What looks like a strange decision made sense to McKinna, who was determined that nothing would bother her preparation before an Olympic year.
“If I became a professional athlete, my brain would turn into a mushroom because I would be very close to it,” he said.
“I learned it individually because I’m just above the point where I’m training […] so you don’t get the little spark or noise I usually get.
“If I were a professional athlete, that would be my reality every day and I don’t think I would handle it very well.”
McKinna was guaranteed a seat on the Tokyo 2020 plane this summer before the spectacle was postponed amid the corona crisis.
She had already dropped the required qualifying distance for the 2019 Doha World Championships and just had to finish in first two places in the British Championships – something that is within her capabilities.
Recognizing her initial reaction to the postponement was disappointing, the 25-year-old quickly put things in perspective.
“It was painful and the immediate reaction is to believe that there must be some way forward,” said McKinna, who has worked tirelessly for 12 years to take her enviable position.
“Sport is extremely important in my life, but people who lose their lives, lose their loved ones, are much more important than me throwing a ball as much as I can.”
Although the sport was apparently her destiny – her grandfather was a professional footballer and director of Norwich City – the shot was not her original call.
Instead, it was the most glamorous appeal of the sprint that caught the eye first and her talent was clear to see locally.
Despite the county’s county medals, he knew he would never enter the world’s elite as a sprinter.
In fact, it was her mother who persuaded her reluctant 13-year-old daughter to try to throw.
As a typical teenager, I said, “No, I’m not doing that, it’s not cool, there’s no way.” “Obviously I ended up doing it because it paid off and I would get in trouble if I didn’t.”
Within eight weeks of the first session, McKinna finished second in her age group at the national championships and quickly recognized her own potential.
He hasn’t looked back since.
Last year he saw her throw a better life during the World Championships in Doha, a moment she met with pure ecstasy and a festive route across the track.
That was the only confirmation of her position in Tokyo, an experience she should now look forward to next year.
McKinna, meanwhile, has been embarking on virtual video calling.
She and several other British athletes have competed in two virtual competitions so far, where amateurs from around the world are encouraged to videotape by throwing whatever they have at their disposal.
The initiative has also raised money for the British NHS as it continues to fight the pandemic.
“It’s something close to my heart and it’s something I want to get involved with,” said McKinna, whose sister works at a hospital.
“It simply came to our notice then. You usually don’t see shots on TV, these are usually current events, so it’s nice to be the only one.
“It’s very nice to see. People were drawing chalk circles on the floor and they just did it.”