FROM:, Track and Field
I’ve often been asked what it takes to be an elite athlete, and through my years of training I’ve noticed that being a top-level athlete involves more than just running on a track. It really includes an entire lifestyle. Your sleep pattern, nutrition, stress, training, lifting, and pretty much everything you do on a daily basis will affect how you perform.
The other important aspect is finding a balance between training/competing and other activities.
Nutrition can be the single most important factor beyond the training that affects how an athlete will perform. Being an elite athlete I have to be aware of what goes into my body. Having proper nutrition is like giving fuel to a car: it doesn’t run well without the proper maintenance or if it’s running low. I believe I am a very healthy eater and focus on getting a good balance between the different food groups. It is important to know how my body will react to certain foods, and over the years I’ve come to know what meals work best and at what times, so I can race well.
Just like nutrition, recovery plays a vital role in how an athlete performs. The biggest factor in recovery is sleeping patterns. It is important to know your sleeping patterns so that you can be rested and relaxed for the day’s training or race. I know that I run best when I work off 7 to 8 hours of sleep. The amount of sleep might vary from person to person, but understanding what your body needs is important because too much or too little can hinder a performance.
Other recovery techniques I use are massages, ice baths, and a dynamic compression system that is designed to help speed up the recovery process and get me ready for the next day. For all athletes, giving your body a chance to recover is an important part of the training process and helps ensure that it is ready for the competitions.
The other critical part to me is finding a balance between training and other activities like school, work, and friends. It’s important for me to love and enjoy training, but I can’t focus on it 24/7 because the more I do, the more it will negatively affect my performance.
For me, finding a balance is an extremely important task that I sometimes still struggle with. When I’m training I give it full attention and effort.
The two biggest things I do to help give me balance are yoga and reading. Last summer was the first time I tried yoga, and I saw the dual purpose it served. It helped me improve my balance and flexibility as well as gave me a chance to relax and reflect. Since incorporating yoga into my weekly training I have noticed a huge difference with flexibility, balance and range of motion. I also enjoy reading, hanging with friends, watching sports, and traveling to help give me a balance on and off the track.