Body image concerns as an athlete

I’ve always been pretty body consicious, but when you are attempting to reach elite level at a sport, you prioritise performance over body shape. Most sports people are extremely fit and healthy, but it is definitely not right to assume every athlete has a positive body image.

Last year I dedicated the off season to gaining strength.This training invloved a limited range of excercises five days a week for almost three months. I was constantly comparing myself to my friends. I couldn’t understand why a similar weights program was making us look so different. Continue reading “Body image concerns as an athlete”

Be proud of the process, despite not reaching the dream

When I was in the middle of kayaking and at the peak of training and racing, I didn’t really consider myself to be very good. When you’re surrounded by people that get selected for international races on a regular basis, it’s hard to get perspective on your own achievements. This post is to remind myself and you to be proud.

Sometimes we can get consumed by our ultimate goal. Our small achievements along the way don’t mean much to us any more. If in the end we don’t end up fulfilling this dream, we consider ourselves a failure. This post is about celebrating the baby steps we make towards our goal, regardless of the outcome. Continue reading “Be proud of the process, despite not reaching the dream”

New goals: a break from competitive sport

Competitive sport at any level is very goal driven. There are short term goals for every training session and local race, which may well be part of three years of long term preparation for a single significant event.

I have taken a break from flatwater kayaking, but it is still my sport. I still have an ultimate dream: to represent Great Britain at the World Championships. This is now a very long term aim, no longer something achievable at this year.

This break allows my body to recover from five years of very intense training, and many niggly injuries. To make the most of this time, I still need short term goals. Continue reading “New goals: a break from competitive sport”

Amsterdam! What it’s like to be a spectator on race day

I went to Amsterdam! This has been in the diary for so long. I was so excited when I originally signed up for the 24km Amsterdam Waterland kayak race. It was the perfect early season race; great preparation for international selection later in April. Plus somewhere new to visit!

I was going with two amazing paddlers and great friends I met kayaking at university. However after paying for the trip I became injured. This was the last straw after months of injury and a lack of motivation. I was no longer training for the right reasons and I decided to voluntarily take a break from kayaking for the first time.

I could have offered someone else my place to Amsterdam, but decided to go as a spectator. One of my biggest fears about leaving the sport is losing touch with friends in the kayaking community. By going on this trip it will hopefully take them a little bit longer to forget about me! Continue reading “Amsterdam! What it’s like to be a spectator on race day”

Keeping a healthy mindset in the transition from high level sport to……?

Typing this in bed at 11pm eating my last piece of dairy free cheesecake! This is despite the fact the last piece I had was less than an hour ago. Ah well. Listen to your body. If my body wants cheesecake, who am I to say no?

I’m finding it quite hard to eat at the moment because i’m not kayaking. I think i’m eating a lot but if I actually take a good hard look at myself i’ve omitted a lot of things from my diet over the past couple of weeks. Continue reading “Keeping a healthy mindset in the transition from high level sport to……?”

So you say you kayak? How I rediscovered my love for the sport.

If someone tells you they kayak, that tells you absolutely nothing. There are so many types of kayaking it’s unreal. The most well known are the olympic disciplines: slalom and flatwater sprinting. There are also several types of ocean kayaking (touring and Surfski), white water and flatwater long distance kayaking (my kind of kayaking!).

This is the type of boat for flatwater sprint and marathon kayaking:

race
This is me racing in K2 at an inter-club competition (i’m the girl in the green). The girl in the red is Lizzie Broughton, she is 2018 world champion over 5k.

Continue reading “So you say you kayak? How I rediscovered my love for the sport.”

Don’t stress about ‘filling a gap’ left by training

Sitting in bed typing whilst watching vloggers do amazing things i’m super jealous of like snowboarding, sea swimming and just generally living awesome lives. I know no-one’s life is super positive and happy every single day but sometimes it feels like that.

I’m taking the whole week off from kayak training. This is obviously 90% due to injury but 10% because I want to see if i’m happier without it. I’m actually finding it super strange. I’m still waking up at 6am and feeling like I need to fill the gap with some form of excerise like swimming or going for a long walk.

Part of this need to do excerise in the morning is that i’m so used to feeling like i’ve ‘earned’ my breakfast. For me the best way to avoid attitudes like this turning into an unhealthy obsession is to force myself to do the opposite. So today I stayed in bed until the last minute, and had eggs as well as my usual chocolate smoothie for breakfast. Continue reading “Don’t stress about ‘filling a gap’ left by training”

A bit of context – my journey with injury

It starts when I was eleven. That was when I began kayaking. I joined Elmbridge CC with one of my best friends. I’m a real water baby and I fell in love with the sport instantly.

Elmbridge is a real racing club and they throw you into the deep end pretty quickly. I started racing and making slow but steady progress. It emerged that my strength was my stamina and my ability to keep going forever, albeit not that fast. Then at 13 I fell ill. It was serious, and my family and I were pretty naive about the recovery process. Part of what drove my recovery was my desire to kayak, and after one year I was back training.

Our club runs a handicap system based on 3k and 10k time trials. You start on 60 as someone who has never been on a boat before. 20 is when you join the ‘fast’ group and 8 is entry level international women standard. As an U16 I reached handicap 13 and was selected as part of a junior development team for my first race abroad. I was on top of the world.

Then in my first year of Sixth Form I had what started as a swollen forearm. No big deal right? It turned into a full year of agonising back, shoulder, elbow and neck pain whenever I tried to kayak. If I sorted out one pain, another would start somewhere else.  At it’s worst I would paddle for 10 minutes on the canal until the pain became so bad I had to stop, stretch and then attempt another 5-10 minutes. Continue reading “A bit of context – my journey with injury”