With the start of school upon us I thought it would be the perfect time to share what I’ll be focusing on to effectively balance school and skiing this year!

SLEEP

When times get busy the first thing I tend to cut out is sleep. But, last year I realized that it should actually be the last thing I drop. Lack of sleep results in decreased quality both in skiing and school with me going through the motions at practice while in zombie mode or spending hours on an assignment that would normally take half the time. Or, even worse, the drop in sleep results in illness or heightens the chance of me getting injured. So, with that in mind, I now follow the plan below:

  • Average at least 8hrs of sleep a night (~9hrs in bed. . . it can take me a while to fall asleep)
  • 20-30min naps when possible (I’ve gotten good at finding napping locations on campus!)
  • If I need to cut back on sleep for a few days (#exams), I make sure to plan more sleep to catch back up and stay up no later than 11pm the night before an exam
  • 2 weeks before a competition I increase sleep by ~1hr and prioritize afternoon naps
  • *New this year* Screens off at 8:30pm (hoping this cuts back on the time it takes me to fall asleep)

TIME MANAGEMENT

I love organization and all things that involve lists, agendas, colourful pens and highlighters!! At the start of every week I sit down and write in the “set in stone things” (practices, classes, meetings etc. .) and every evening fill in the rest based on my to do list. I’ve found that planning out my day, particularly before going to bed really helps reduce stress and keeps me from lying in bed worrying about how I’ll fit everything in.

I’ve also found it super helpful to print up the class schedule (found in most syllabuses), highlight deadlines, circle conflicts with training camps/races and identify when to start studying/ working on the class assignments/essays/exams etc. . I’ll then tape this up in my study space so I can follow along as I move through the semester. It takes the class from being something in my head that seems big and, quite honestly sometimes terrifying, and breaks it down into small goals that I can check off along the way. . . . Did I mention I like schedules?

COMMUNICATION

First year student self was pretty intimidated by professors. But, my parents felt very strongly about me organizing meetings and were more intimidating! Since that first semester I’ve now made a habit of: emailing each of my professors at the start of the semester explaining who I am and identifying potential conflicts with races/exams, introducing myself at the first class so that they can attach my face to the name, and organizing in person meetings when needed. Missing classes isn’t great, and missing exams is even less so. As much as I dislike it, this is pretty much inevitable, but I’ve found that there are solutions if I reach out early and explain the situation. BIG thanks to all the wonderful profs I’ve had at Carleton over the past 4 years!!

  • Look over the syllabus at the start of the semester to identify conflicts
  • Email, introduce and meet with Professors to make a plan
  • Make friends in classes with whom I can share notes
  • For 3hr lecture based classes ask profs if they’d be open to a classmate/family member/friend recording missed lectures on my audio recorder

LISTENING TO MY BODY & BRAIN

Last fall I hit the breaking point; I’d just come off a July/August that included work, a condensed chemistry class, a large volume block of training and then had immediately launched into the fall semester. I thought that I could just keep going, going, going but everything caught up to me and my brain was just done. I pulled back from scheduled training and spent a week off the rollerskis — instead going for multiple long runs at Nakkertok with my younger brother. This experience made me recognize that rest/downtime is not the waste of time I’d considered it to be, but rather absolutely necessary for one’s mental health. This year I plan to do a better job of listening to my body and brain; adding recovery, pulling back in training and adding in downtime before things get bad.

One way I plan to implement this is by identifying the things that re energize me and making sure to set aside time in my day to chill. Some days this may be watching a TV show, other days reading a book for 15min before bed, or others simply making a nice cup of tea. But, no matter the duration of this downtime, I think the real key will be making sure that the time is spent being in the present and enjoying the moment rather than feeling guilty or worrying about all the other tasks I need to be doing.

There’s no magic secret to balancing school and skiing successfully. It’s simply hard work and . . . and if there’s something we skiers know how to do, that’s it!

Wishing you all a wonderful semester of school full of great sleep, beautiful agendas, good communication, and some solid chill time sprinkled throughout!!

– Zoë

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