A day in the life of an athlete

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My alarm going off in the morning is my least favorite sound. Every time I hear the ringing, I groan, and my chest tightens as a wave of stress comes over me. It’s time for morning weights.

The early bike ride to the training room can be a cold one, and I race there half asleep, the wind bringing tears to my eyes. I walk into the weight room with my hood up and am greeted with blank, tired stares from my teammates. We’re all in this together.

Weight training goes fast once we get going, the thumping music helps bring our spirits up and the jokes start flowing. I point to my lower back again because it’s hurting and inflamed, something that medicine and supplements can alleviate but won’t solve. My weights coach allows me to modify the lift to avoid strain, and I power through until the 8 a.m. mark. After training we all huddle together as a team and then break for the day. We’ll see each other again in the afternoon.

Back at the dorm, I swing the door to my room open as quietly as possible, hoping not to wake my roommate. I nap until the stressful ringing of my alarm jolts me awake for the second time of the day. It’s time for class.

You’d think that I would show up on time and ready to go (considering I wake up so early), but I usually end up rushing to class, looking disheveled. In my defense, that doesn’t always happen! I am also most definitely not a morning person.

Class goes by as you think it would: sometimes exciting, and sometimes there is no other place I would rather be than in bed (maybe more commonly the latter for me). But I do it! Now on to the most anticipated time of day — practice.

I have experienced almost every emotion going into a practice. On the best days, I’m excited to see everyone and eager to get in the pool. And on the worst, well, maybe I’m not as excited to be there. But no matter what, I’m there and ready to grind with everybody else. It’s always worth it in my mind. On my worst days, practice gives me time to focus only on water polo and let go of anything else that may be going on in my life. Sometimes there are distractions, but I always feel better after I get out of the pool.

Back on dry land, I start to bike home. I never noticed the hills on campus until I started coming home after practice. The gradual incline from the athletic facilities to the rest of campus feels like a steep mountain after a tough workout. I sweat but barely move on my bike, and what should be a three-minute bike ride becomes 10.

Reaching the dorm, I let out a sigh as I hop off my bike and lock it, then stroll into the kitchen. I shove food in my face, chug my water bottle and chat with friends before rushing into my room so I can lay down. I stare at my ceiling until I feel ready to start homework.

Homework is variable. I often try to do it during the day because I know I will be tired after practice, but sometimes night is my only choice. I study until I get sleepy, then slide in bed. Right before I doze off I remember my alarm. A moment of panic that I will wake up in the morning having missed my morning workout washes over me. I need to check again to make sure my alarm is set for the morning. Being late to practice is not an option.

Here we go again.

 

Contact Hannah Shabb at hshabb ‘at’ stanford.edu

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