It has been a crazy few months as I recently finished my first semester of my undergraduate studies at the University of Ottawa in the human Kinetics program.
Over the past few months of adjusting myself to a new city and university lifestyle, I realize that I have so much freedom. I have the freedom to do whatever I want!!! We all know the phrase, “with great freedom comes great responsibility”. And Spider-man you are so right. As a university student athlete, I understand that balancing school, training, eating healthy, and on top of that having a social life can get very busy. But it can be done. I have settled myself into a schedule and will share some tips on what works for me in this post.
First, here are the things I have been up to since my last blog post:
In December, I went to Toronto to attend the MultiSport Canada Series Awards Banquet where I was awarded a plaque for being the 19&U Series Champion! The Banquet was very nice, I got to see many familiar faces from racing in the summer as well as meet new athletes, such as pro triathlete Cody Beals.
With regards to my training, I have been swimming with the University of Ottawa swim team under the coaching of Dave Heinbuch and Liz Osterer. I am able to get in to swim with them three times a week for 2 hour session. It has been very beneficial to be able swim with such fast swimmers because they really pushed me to improve. I already feel faster in the water! During the Christmas break we went to Hawaii for a two week training camp to get strong for upcoming peak competitions such as their OUA meet that is this week! (Wishing them the best of luck at OUA’s this Thursday! GO GEE-GEES!!!)
Coincidentally, I also got to meet up with my best friend from high school, Sam, and her family as they were also in Hawaii on vacation! I could write so much about our adventures there, instead, since a picture is worth a thousand words, I have attached some pictures at the bottom of the blog.
In addition, I currently do three runs and three indoor spin workouts a week -one of each with University of Ottawa Triathlon team. I always look forward to the group spin workouts because Nick, the spin coach, has the best pump up music and is very motivating.
Also, if you remember my ITU World Championship Race in Chicago (if not, read Blog Post #1!), you will recall that I had an unfortunate experience with the heat and my hydration. In order to better prepare for this summer’s ITU World Championships in the hotter climate of Cozumel Mexico, I have decided to take part in a research study at the university that focuses on how gender, age, and diabetes affect the body’s ability to dissipate heat. Basically, the university owns one of the two whole-body calorimeters in Canada (a device that makes very accurate measurements on the amount of heat emitted by the human body) and I will be required to bike in it for 2.5 hours. This will assess how females might respond differently to increasing levels of heat stress at rest and during physical activity. Intern, it will determine guidelines for females to follow in order to avoid health effects associated with heat exposure. This will help me in Mexico because since I live in a city where everything around me is snow and ice, I will have a place to acclimatize my body by training in a hot environment. Also, I will learn about what my body can stand, temperature wise, as well as what hydration steps to take to be successful in hot climates. All of this while helping a great research cause!
Furthermore, I have started to think about what races I will sign up for this summer. I am excited sign up for the Recharge with Milk MultiSport Canada races again this year. Training will continue to get harder and I look forward to continue my improvement so that I can be a good competitor for the 20-24 age category and give a good performance at Nationals in Ottawa as well as at the ITU World Championships in Cozumel, Mexico.
Tips for Student-Athletes
Like I promised, here are a few things that have been working for me so far in university.
School and life can get stressful at times, this is why it is important to have a good group of friends to help you get through it. You can meet a lot of people by joining teams, intermurals, and obviously class mates! I have met my closest friends in my labs and through networks of people. Also, get to know your roommates. Living with my older sister Constanza, Taylor, and Sarah has helped me because they have already gone through first year. I have learned a lot from all of them :)
Get a workout buddy
Having a workout buddy is so great! Pick a workout buddy that will push you to go to the gym on the days that you just don’t feel like it.
Live in the moment
Simply stated: If you are studying, study (no distractions). If you are socializing, socialize. If you are training, train. And if you need time of to relax, do it! Take some time off from the world and use that time to do what you want. By living in the moment you are more productive with your time.
Get Enough Sleep.
Include at least 8 hours of sleep into your nightly routine. Getting enough sleep in so important to maintain a heathy mind and body.
Boosts your mood (Thomsen, et al., 2003).
Better performance in school and athletics. Sleep improves memory and sharpens attention, skills useful for getting good grades. In addition, sleep can improve athletic performance because attention is important in order focus on technique for speed and for injury prevention (Dinges, et al., 1997).
Influences appetite. Hormones that make you sleepy are also hunger inducing hormones (Spiegel, et al., 2004).
Keeps immune system strong (Bryan, et al., 2004).
Many of us want it all - good grades, a job, time to go out, and time for the gym- and who can blame you? In order to fit in everything into your week it is a good idea to make a schedule. I find scheduling very useful because it allows me to optimize my time. Also, I can plan ahead and avoid over scheduling myself.
Bryant, P. A., Trinder, J., & Curtis, N. (2004, June). Sick and Tired: Does Sleep Have A Vital Role In The Immune System? Nature Reviews Immunology(4), 457-467. Retrieved from Nature Reviews Immunology: http://www.nature.com/nri/journal/v4/n6/abs/nri1369.html
Dinges, D. F., Pack, F., Williams, K., Gillen, K. A., Powell, J. W., Ott, G. E., . . . Pack, A. I. (1997, April). Cumulative sleepiness, mood disturbance and psychomotor vigilance performance decrements during aweek of sleep restricted to 4-5 hours per night. Journal of Sleep Research & Sleep Medicine, 20(4), 267-277. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1997-06077-003
Spiegel, PhD, K., Tasali, MD, E., Penev, MD, P., & Cauter, PhD, E. V. (2004, December 7). Sleep Curtailment in Healthy Young Men Is Associated with Decreased Leptin Levels, Elevated Ghrelin Levels, and Increased Hunger and Appetite. Analysis of Internal Medicine, 141(11), 846. Retrieved from http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=717987
Thomsen, D. K., Mehlsen, M. Y., Christensen, S., & Zachariae, R. (2003). Rumination—relationship with negative mood and sleep quality (Vol. 34). Denmark: Elsevier B.V. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886902001204