How do you manage your studies while maintaining your elite sporting commitments? It’s a balancing act, says decathlete David Brock, and it most certainly can be done.
This year, RMIT’s former Neurovascular Man, and current Osteopathy student David Brock joins other student athletes from across the globe to compete for Australia in the 28th Summer Universiade in South Korea.
With the exam period coming to an end, and the Universiade set to begin in the first week of July, Brock offers his advice for RMIT’s next batch of aspiring elite student athletes on the toughest sport there is: balancing study and training.
1. Get your routine right
It is essential to establish a good routine that works well for you. It’s difficult to always find time for study and to socialise with friends while you train or compete, but you need to do it.
I often find that I try to fit an hour of study before leaving for training. I use training as a way to get the blood flowing back through my body to help relax and relieve stress. When you have less time before training, you can use the time directly after training as a designated study time to make sure that you properly rest after you have trained.
Once you get into a good routine that works for you, try to be consistent with it. Use calendars, reminder apps, post-it notes – whatever works for you – to ensure you don’t break that routine.
2. Talk to your university’s Elite Sport Coordinator
If you’re having trouble on your own getting your routine right, then you should consider speaking to your university’s Elite Sport Coordinator. RMIT University has an excellent elite sports program that not only helps you with funding for competitions, but they help you academically.
If you’re finding yourself overloaded with assignments and work, the university’s elite athlete program allows you to apply for extensions on the work that you may need a bit more time for.
3. Get plenty of sleep
This might sound like a no-brainer, but it’s a hard cold fact that a lot of people ignore, especially when they’re young. And it goes hand in hand with keeping up a good routine. If you don’t maintain your desired routine, you’ll often find yourself sitting up past midnight trying to finish assignments or cramming for exams. This is not only detrimental to your physical health, but your mental health as well.
If you want to be an elite athlete, eight hours of sleep is the absolute bare minimum to ensure your body is in prime condition for training and competitions. Getting the right amount of sleep also means that you can focus better in class and learn more while you study.
4. Have a healthy lifestyle
Another no-brainer, but again important to reiterate: diet is vital. You should be eating a good variety of foods so your body has the right fuel to train. Stay away from sugary or processed foods and tuck into meals with colour and substance.
You’ll feel like letting loose sometimes and you’ll want to stop over at the uni bar for a beer with your mates. You know the drill: going out every weekend and getting drunk can cause you to lose an immense amount of sleep and really isn’t good for your health. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to go out with friends and family to keep your sanity in place and its fine to have a few drinks with them but it is not wise to get blind drunk every weekend. Your training and studies will suffer from it.
5. Make sure you enjoy your course
If you are not enjoying your course and cannot see yourself working in that field in the future, things can get bad. You may find yourself sitting at your desk trying to study, but not being able to do it because it simply doesn’t interest you. The stress that this brings can carry over to your training too, causing demotivation and frustration.
If you do enjoy your course, but find that you are struggling to find ample time for both sport and study, you may need to consider talking to your course coordinator to see if there are any other options for you. For example, you may want to do an extra year of study and spread your subjects out over the extra year to get some extra time.