A track and field athlete’s lifestyle is divided into two – completely different – categories: the consistent routine of out-of-competition training season and the crazy travel schedule of the in-competition season.
For fall and winter, I’ve developed a finely tuned training and recovery routine. I wake up at the same time most days, meditate, and journal while I drink coffee; I knock a few things off my to-do list, do a quick stretch before practice, head to the University of British Columbia track to train, then onto the Varsity Gym to lift. I sauna and ice bath two to three times per week, see my physiotherapists at Synergy Physiotherapy and get a massage on Tuesdays, coach kids for my club (Vancouver Thunderbirds) on Wednesdays, and take Sundays off completely. I cook the majority of my food to stick to a low-carb diet (minimal grains, dairy, fruit), read a lot about different ways to enhance training (nutrition, sleep, meditation, biohacking tricks), and fall asleep at the same time most nights.
My weeks seem to blur together from the consistency, but I love it because consistency breeds results.
Once I move into in-competition season, my lifestyle couldn’t be more different. This year, from July to October, I competed in eight countries, stayed in 13 cities, and took 17 flights. I stay in hotels, at friends’ homes, and villages (like Panamerican Games). There is no routine, but I try to trick my body into performing like there is one.
My biggest challenge is always minimizing jetlag and physically recovering from flights. I often travel and have to compete within 48 hours of landing. So far, the best hacks I’ve adopted to ensure I can perform at my best include:
- 1. Sleep on the first half of the flight (NOT the second).
It becomes easier to fall asleep in the new time zone at night because more adenosine will accumulate in the brain to produce stronger sleep pressure. That leaves me having to resist the temptation of the afternoon nap.
- 2. Fast during travel, or eat as light as possible until arriving in the new time zone.
This pushes the digestive system to reset to the new time zone as well and makes the transition of the master circadian clock smoother. I like to break my fast with a mix a Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee Mix (with Lion’s Mane & Chaga) and a SnackConsious Snack Bomb. The Lion’s Mane helps to maintain cognitive function after a long travel day, and the energy ball offers a great protein to carb to fat ratio to keep my insulin levels steady and keep the ghrelin at bay (AKA keep the “hangry” away).
- 3. Stay hydrated.
I fill a 1.5L water bottle in the airport after security.
- 4. Wear toe spacers instead of compression socks.
This encourages blood flow through the feet instead of stagnating it. I highly recommend Joy-A-Toes.
My other main challenge while travelling and being without my ironclad daily routine is minimizing diversion from my diet. At a track meet, this challenge can typically take the form of:
- 1. Temptation to partake in an amazing buffet. I overcome this by reminding myself that nothing tastes as good as feeling well.
- 2. Alternatively, there are very few options available to me. If this happens, I stay fueled by breaking into my stash of Sunwarrior Protein and trail mix that I always have handy!
Another tip for maintaining my usual way of eating while on the road? I travel with a knife, cutting board, and a large plastic container so that I can visit a grocery and make a salad if I feel like I’m not getting enough vegetables.
My last challenge – and the thing I might be the most militant about when traveling – is creating an optimal sleeping environment. I don an eye-mask, earplugs, and mouth guard (I grind my teeth). I get the room cool (preferably 18c) and cover all the lights in the room (Wi-Fi router, television, alarm clock.). If the bed is uncomfortable, I move the mattress to the floor. If the curtains let light in on the side, I tape them down.
I take every opportunity to enhance my recovery because it ultimately helps me be at my best. Although these may seem like a series of small actions, together they add up to big results that are greater than the sum of their parts and have helped me make two Olympic Games thus far and continue to help me prepare for the third in Tokyo 2020.
Thank you to Raw Elements Ambassador Liz Gleadle for authoring this blog post for us!
Liz is a two-time Olympian and Canadian record holder performing in Javelin.
Stay current with Liz by following her on Instagram!