January 17, 2017

Jason at the track

For a lot of people going to university, sport is a big part of their lives. I happen to be one of them – I’m an athlete who specialises in the 100m and 200m. One of my biggest worries coming to university was how I was going to be able to do well academically whilst trying to get better at my sport.

I’m in my final year now and I’ve learned a lot in three years of coping with the demands of study and sport.

Here are a few tips on how to get that balance right:

1.    Plan your days/week in advance

If you’ve never kept a diary/planner/organiser before, this might be the time for you to get one. It really helps to plan your day and week in advance. I always know where I’m supposed to be at every hour of day. Planning in advance helps you keep track of what you need too – my bag is usually full with my uni books, laptop as well as training kit, spikes etc. The heavy bag also counts as weight training!

2.    Do your assignments in advance

I know it doesn’t sound a lot of fun, but I always try to do my assignments earlier than due (I have been caught out a couple of times before). This is especially important for me during the indoor season when I have races coming up. I don’t want to also be stressing about finishing assignments the day before a race. Getting work done early also means you don’t have to miss training sessions because your trying to finish assignments.

3.    Don’t be afraid to miss nights out/social events

Yes, you will be called boring – but if you want to excel in sport and on your course, you need to remember what your priorities are. Constant late nights and lack of sleep will have a big effect on both the quality of work you produce and your performance in your sport. Excessive drinking will also have an effect on your sport, so be wise.

4.    Eat well, rest well

As a sportsperson, you obviously need good food to perform well. If you can’t cook, I recommend learning how to make at least a few healthy dishes before you start university.

Try and cook your own food as much as possible and limit the amount of takeaways you get. I find it helps to prepare them in bulk if you have to and put it in the fridge or freezer. This frees up time later, and there’s nothing better than finishing a hard training session and knowing you already have food waiting for you at home.

Snacking on things like dried fruit and nuts can keep your energy levels up during the day before training sessions.

5.    Enjoy it!

This might sound cliché, but if you aren’t enjoying what you are doing, then what’s the point? I am quite lucky in the sense that because I study something so different to sport – Biomedical Science – I get a break from athletics.

If I have a frustrating session or a bad race, I can’t dwell on it too much as I have to focus on my uni work. This also works vice-versa with my academic work – training gives me a break from revising or doing assignments, which is really refreshing.

Balancing sport and study is not always easy – but with a bit of practice, determination and forward thinking it can be done.

Keep up with Jason on Twitter @JasonSmartey