Life of a Student Athlete

Juggling your studies with sports on top of your social life can get very tiring. Sacrifices have to be made and sleep is your best friend. My name is Damia Humaira and I will be giving you an insight on what it is like to live my life.

For starters, I am a Canoe Sprint athlete training under the national developmental team. I started my canoeing journey in late 2020. Previously, I was a kayak athlete and made the tough decision to change sports. A little background information about our training schedule, we have about 10 training sessions a week. Training sessions consist of paddling sessions, gym training, body weight training and cardio. We have a double training session in a day, one in the morning and one in the evening. For my program, we get the evening session on a Wednesday and have a Saturday morning training program instead.

We start our day early. A normal school schedule for a Polytechnic student like me would start lessons at 9am, if not later. So we do still have time in the morning to fit in a good training session. Training starts at 7am and if we are lucky, the sunrise can be really beautiful to start to our day. Normally we would have water sessions in the morning. A good 1 hour of paddling can be done before leaving my training ground latest by 8.15am to arrive at school on time. I recall walking to school and hitting my step goal of 10,000 by the time I am in school. That is how much I walk in the morning, travelling from home, to my training ground and then school.

Once lessons or lectures begin I do get tired occasionally but nothing beats seeing my favourite classmates and interesting lessons that would keep me awake in class. They are the reason why school is bearable to me. Additionally activities that we are tasked to do would distract me of my sleepiness, with a little snack somewhere in between. Breaks would definitely be where I recharge. Getting a good lunch and if I am lucky for that day, I could fit in a power nap which just boosts my energy.

Now when school ends, occasionally I do have time to go home and change to prepare for my evening training. On some days, school could end at 6pm and evening training would be missed. However, when lessons on a particular day ends at 4pm, I have to go straight to my training ground and begin the second session. This is where my classmates would see me carrying a big duffel bag consisting of my soiled training clothes from the morning session, another fresh set for the evening session and school items like my laptop and books. Evening sessions normally start at 5pm.

Post training, our eyes get to feast the beautiful sunset view too which just ends the day with a cream on top. It does not happen too often, but when it does, it just makes training feel worth it; like a reward. After cleaning up, dinner is something I would look forward to.

Dinner is where I could catch up with some old friends for a bit or just go home and spend time with my family. It does get draining having to keep up with the day but my social life keeps me sane and even though sleep has to be sacrificed, it is a good trade as spending time with my loved ones is always worth it and I cherish it very dearly. A perfect time to sleep would require me to be ready for bed by 10pm. However, catching up with schoolwork prevents me from doing so. Thus, I try my best to be in bed by midnight.

For the weekend, there would still be Saturday morning training. Other than that, we get to spend it however we like before the next week starts. When the school semester ends, there is no reason why we should miss training sessions, unless there is an emergency, public holiday or if we are sick. In between sessions, we get to go home and sleep. It is mentally better for me not having school on top of training as I do not have to think about an undone project or an assignment to complete while training. I am not distracted by school and can solely focus on my training. I do use the time in between sessions to spend time with my friends but physically, it is tiring to keep up with my social life. It is hard to make plans when everyone is free on the weekdays but not you. You would feel left out when everyone is out enjoying but you are out here training and suffering. Your friends would also question why are you training so hard? Or they would just tell you to skip one day of training. From here, you have to have the discipline to follow the training plan. A session of training missed, would make your teammates stronger than you. Each session is important and it is best if it is not skipped. The hustle is worth it in the end when achievements are made and it reflects your hard work.

Overall, to be a student athlete is not easy at all. Small things like waking up at 5am to get ready for the day is tough and I have to just deal with it. It feels like nothing once you get used to it. Constantly having assignments and projects in your head while spending your time training instead of doing it is mentally draining. Having to keep up with school work after a long day is tiring. Time management is then integral when you have many things to juggle. For the physical aspect, your body gets weak and sore after training. You are expected to perform your best in every training sessions and be ready for the next day no matter what condition you are in. It is always easier to give up the athlete life and live like an average student. However, being a student athlete do have its benefits. Other than keeping you fit, it helps you be mentally stronger. Small inconveniences would not be a matter as you have other and better things to think about. Additionally, it would help build your character in a way where you would be disciplined, gain confidence, staying positive, have sportsmanship and many others.

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