Monday 20 April 2015

The thing about being a student athlete…

…is that you are busy. SO busy. So busy that you stop posting in your brand new blog after a whopping two posts!

I’m currently in the “writing” phase of my Master’s degree, meaning that I’m wrapping up some data analysis from my project and composing my thesis, all day every day. Understandably, writing for fun is kind of on the back burner. I mean, I didn't send my Christmas cards out until mid-January. 

While I’m reaching a point where I’m ready to move on and shift my focus predominately to training for the Olympics, school has been majorly cool. I began my Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology after finishing my undergrad because I wasn't running nearly at the level I am now, and I thought that I would be able to handle both training and pursuing another degree – something I knew I would do eventually. I’m grateful that my supervisor and the University of Calgary Kinesiology faculty have been extremely accommodating and supportive of my endeavors and crazy schedule, and it's been challenging but absolutely worth it.

Top 3 best things about school:

1.   It's fun! Obviously this only applies if you are a nerd like myself, but where/when else do you get to spend all your time learning about a topic you find fascinating, surrounded by peers who share common interests? You certainly get some pretty neat opportunities being in such an innovative and collaborative environment.

2. It’s a wicked job. I’m not TAing anymore, but I did for five semesters which was a serious hit to my free time but paid the bills quite comfortably. I’ve also worked as an exercise physiologist on a few research projects and it's quite enjoyable putting the skills I've acquired into practical use. While I’m definitely not making the big bucks like many of my friends working downtown oil-tycoon Calgary, as far as part time athlete jobs go, you really can’t beat the structure, relevance, and compensation.

3. It’s the perfect complement to training  – I’m mostly sitting, my only physical labour involves folding towels and whiping down sweaty bikes,  and my schedule is extremely flexible. Though I crave the days when I’ll be able to focus solely on training, I’m a person who is not content being static and school has certainly filled the void.

Top 2 worst things about school:

1.       It’s hard to split your passions. Athletics and academics really aren’t that different in that they largely involve people doing their best to attain goals and perform at a very high level in their field of choice. I’m a fairly passionate person, and love throwing myself into something, be it sport or research. Doing both is sometimes frustrating as you do have to manage your time and resources in two separate worlds where everyone around you is immersed in only one.

2.       Days are only 24 hours long. And athletes need a lot of sleep to perform well. This isn’t as big of a problem now that I’m not TAing, but I’ve gone through stretches where every waking moment is scheduled which isn’t too fun. That said, we all have to grind through things sometimes and I do acknowledge that I've been extremely fortunate with the opportunities I've been given.

Anyways, I’m typing this post on a plane en route to  Flagstaff for my first altitude camp. My goals are two-fold: to become a lean mean running machine, and to make a strong final push towards finishing my thesis. I can't wait for the track season ahead, but I'll probably never be too cool for school!!
Season Opening 5km road race - 15:36 :)

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