I have just finished the first week of our altitude training camp. I’m currently living at around1800m in a small town called Font Romeu in the French Pyrenees with four teammates and my coach, Istvan. Tomorrow is our eagerly awaited day off…and we are hitting the slopes for some downhill skiing. I am so excited! We had heavy snow fall last night and today making it ideal conditions for skiing tomorrow.
I thought it would be good to explain some aspects about the life of an athlete: from training cycles to travelling.
So here goes, from October through to February, we aim to build our aerobic fitness, develop skills for fencing, shooting and riding and, essentially, set our- selves up for the lengthy com- petition season.
The past three years that I have been competing as a full time athlete, I’ve made around 10 to 15 airport journeys per year to competitions and training camps abroad. Sometimes they are ‘in and out’ type trips where I’ll be abroad for four days. However, for camps, we’ll be located in the given training base for up to three weeks.
A typical week for me includes five days of training and a long run on Saturday morning. From Monday to Friday, we swim and run in the morning and then after lunch focus on the technical elements of modern pentathlon.
As well as training directly for our five events, we also have several support staff who work for the English Institute of Sport (EIS), these people help us meet the demands of our sport and really make us better-equipped athletes. We have a nutritionist, a psychologist, strength and conditioning coach (gym instructor) physiotherapists, masseuses, a sport doctor and a lifestyle support officer.
There is indeed a lot of ‘support’ that is available. This is what really enables us to step up our game and become ‘elite’ performers on the international playing field. The question I’m most commonly asked is how this great expense is covered or do I pay for these facilities myself?
After being a home-based youth athlete, I competed at a senior international level and, therefore, gained results that proved I was good enough to be a full-time funded athlete.
In fact, all athletes who compete in an Olympic discipline at international level are fortunate to receive funding from the National Lottery via UK Sport. So please keep buying your lottery tickets!
Something that really aids my performance is sponsorship. I’m very lucky and proud to be an Ambassador for Moving Comfort. The footwear and kit provided to me is fabulous and enables me to get to train in the best quality fabrics that are comfortable and, importantly, look great. It’s always nice to feel good as your working out.
It is a career that is performance based. It is time consuming with a fixed regime and extremely competitive. As an individual athlete there is a level of solitude – does anyone really understand what drives you? When you wake up at 7am – aching and sore from the previous day – only to have to push yourself through another day – all for that medal or that new personal best?
The ability to deliver under pressure and bring it all together on the right day is an essential skill that divides the best from the ‘almost made its’. It’s hard to put into words what the ‘Y factor’ is.
Is it the bug you’ve been bitten by, is it the vision you have, the person you want to be, the title you dream of, or even you simply feel most comfortable as an athlete? In any event, the end goal – once, and if, achieved – endorses the sense of satisfaction, achievement and champion feeling that leaves you with a euphoric sense of accomplishment.
There are obvious advantages such as travelling the world and experiencing new and exciting places. With the exception of Australia, I’ve visited every continent in the world through sport. I’ve tried every national dish and drink from each place I’ve visited. I’ve partied in some ‘real dives’ – including a nightclub somewhere between Slovakia and Hungry where we had to demonstrate the “Macarena” to the locals – to the coolest roof top party overlooking Kuta Beach in Bali. Meeting people from different cultures, backgrounds and countries is great fun too and has given me a love for languages.
Tomorrow is going to be a fun day off training. Then, I’ll hit it hard for the final week here in the mountains. I love training at the moment and am passionate about the personal challenge of Modern Pentathlon. I read a quote recently that gives me motivation: “Obstacles are placed in our way to see if what we want is really worth fighting for.”
I hope this give you something to chew on next time your about to workout! If you have any questions or comments, please contact me @_samanthamurray
Until my next blog, I wish you all many happy workouts in Moving Comfort gear!