Living a balanced lifestyle for a student-athlete is difficult to achieve. But to be consistently successful at your sport, living a balanced lifestyle is essential. There are many daily demands and pressures on student-athletes, which may negatively affect their pursuit of a balanced lifestyle. As the level of competition constantly increases in the NCAA, student-athletes more than ever need to focus on how to get the extra hand-up on the competition. As a NCAA athlete, your body is continually being pushed to its maximum capacity. It is pushed to the point where any sort of imbalance may result in sickness or injury. In an environment where your individual health is essential for your own athletic success, your teammates also depend on your health for the success of the overall team. When I was a student-athlete at the University of Tulsa, there were times when my lifestyle became unbalanced; negatively effecting my overall health and performance.
Health & Nutrition
Living a balanced lifestyle requires a focus on health and nutrition. For me, this became more complicated due to geography. Living in Canada my entire life, I had been used to moderate temperatures in the summer and training in winter conditions. When I moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, I had to adapt to the impacts of this new environment on my body and training. In the summer months, Tulsa gets very hot; averaging around 35 degrees Celsius with high humidity. As a result, proper hydration was essential to my health and performance. Proper fuelling was just as important to prepare for training and runs in hot weather.
Sleep & Recovery
Recovering from classes and training is essential for a balanced lifestyle. Lack of sleep plays a big role in the overall health of athletes and their abilities to recover from hard workouts. By not sleeping, you are constantly wearing your body down and, as a result, you can become ill. Living in Tulsa, adjusting to the new climate impacted on my sleep schedule. As it gets so hot in the summer, the Tulsa track team would be forced to run workouts early morning when it was not so hot outside. These early morning workouts caused me to lose a couple hours of sleep each day; effecting the recovery process and my health. It was important to head to bed early in the night to maintain proper daily sleep and recovery. As a student-athlete and having to study and write papers, this was not always as easy as it sounds.
Being a student-athlete and maintaining a healthy lifestyle to compete at peak performance consistency may sound easy, but it was something I struggled with at times. Between training, competing, academic pressures, and social expectations (such as attending parties and hanging out with friends), there are many things to balance. Awareness around how these impact your overall health is very important if you want to achieve a high level of athletic success. Ultimately, your health is your responsibility to maintain. Your coach and your teammates also need you to take care of yourself to achieve successful results.
In my next blog post, I will share about successfully accomplishing a running goal as I continue my series – An Athletically Inspired Educational Journey.