Sure, we can be envious of "unemployed" athletes who have nothing better to do than train or put their feet up. They can train whenever and wherever they want and subtly brag about it through instagram or strava posts while the rest of us work and are lucky to get in an evening bike ride or run. But there are some slight advantages to being part of the workforce.
Whether it comes out of your paycheque or not, many employer sponsored health insurance programs include some paramedical coverage. So you can get a couple of free massages, physiotherapy, and if there's a stutter keeping you from really intimidating your competition, some speech therapy. Meanwhile the unemployed athlete is still using their worn out foam roller.
It's why you work and you can buy performance through coaching, better nutrition, and gear. Meanwhile the unemployed athlete is surviving off KD, and praying that their tattered gear will hold up during the next race.
You're a roll model:
In the workforce, you are surrounded by people of varying athletic backgrounds. Most will see you as a hero and hang off every word of your Monday morning weekend summary. While you aren't inspiring sick kids at the hospital, it is comforting to know that you have people cheering for you to battle to the end of the race.
You've faced adversity:
All of those rainy, dark after-work miles you've put in will make that last climb seem like a piece of cake. The only adversity the unemployed athlete has faced is getting shut down by the girl at the coffee shop.