This was the reality for the English shooter Sophie McKinna, who for years has balanced her dream of Olympic glory with work as a custodial agent and gym instructor.
His work with the local police makes up most of his income and is a perfect distraction from his sports career, even if things get overheated occasionally.
“We are like bouncers. If people start kicking off, we take care of this, so it’s an interesting job,” he told CNN Sport.
The nature of the job requires McKinna to keep her calm during some test situations, but it’s a challenge she enjoyed as her launches continue to grow.
“Come in and every day is different,” he said. “You don’t know what you will get.
“I really like my job and this gives me the head space away from athletics.”
The recent blockade only underscored how important such a distraction is for McKinna, who has temporarily moved away from his role to protect himself from the virus.
She has been able to continue training in her garden but is struggling with life, sleep and practice in the same place.
It is for this reason that McKinna decided to decline British Athletics funding earlier this year, a move that saw her decline £ 15,000 a year and the chance to become completely professional.
What seems like a strange decision made perfect sense for McKinna who was determined not to upset her preparation before an Olympic year.
“If I became a professional athlete, my brain would turn to mush because I would be too close to it,” he said.
“I learned it on my own because I’m on top of where I’m training […] so you don’t get that little spark or hum that I usually get.
“If I became a professional athlete, this would be my reality every day and I don’t think I would do it particularly well.”
McKinna had almost guaranteed his seat on the plane to Tokyo 2020 this summer before the show was postponed due to the coronavirus crisis.
He had already thrown the necessary qualifying distance to the Doha World Championships in 2019 and only needed to finish in the top two at the British Championships – something that was within his capabilities.
Admitting her initial reaction to the postponement was a disappointment, the 25-year-old quickly put things into perspective.
“It was painful and the immediate reaction is to think there must be a way forward,” said McKinna, who has worked tirelessly for 12 years to get his enviable position.
“Sport is extremely important in my life, but people who lose their lives, lose their loved ones, are much more important than I am that I throw a ball as far as possible.”
Although sport was apparently his fate – his grandfather was a professional footballer and manager from Norwich City – shooting was not his first call.
Instead it was the most glamorous charm of the sprint that caught his attention first, and his talent was evident locally.
Despite a number of county medals, he knew he would never break into the world elite as a sprinter.
It was, in fact, her mother who persuaded her 13 year old reluctant daughter to try casting.
“As a typical teenager I said ‘No, I’m not doing it, it’s not nice, no chance.’ I obviously ended up doing it because she paid for it and I would have gotten in trouble if I hadn’t done it, “she recalls.
Within eight weeks of that first session, McKinna finished second in her age group at the national championships and quickly recognized her potential.
Since then he has never looked back.
Last year saw her give her best at the Doha World Championships, a moment met with pure ecstasy and a celebratory race across the track.
It was that launch that almost confirmed its place in Tokyo, an experience that will now have to wait until next year.
Meanwhile, McKinna has had to settle for virtual contests on video calls.
She and a number of other British athletes have so far competed in two virtual competitions where amateurs from around the world are encouraged to recover by throwing everything they have at their disposal.
The initiative also raised money for the British National Health Service as it continues to fight the pandemic.
“It’s something that is very close to my heart and it’s something I want to be involved in,” said McKinna, whose sister works in a hospital.
“It’s also about putting the launch in the foreground. Normally you don’t see the shot put on television; it’s usually the current events, so it’s nice to be the only event.
“It’s really nice to see. People drew chalk circles on the floor and tried.”
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