Monthly Archives: April 2014

Full Speed Ahead

Well hello.

Since I wrote last I’ve been enjoying a little down time, with semester ending and work slowing for a brief period. I’ve had time to reset and begin filling my schedule for the summer months. I spent the past weekend in a Soft Tissue Release certification- which meant that when I wasn’t performing the techniques, I was getting them performed on me… bonus! Perfect way to rejuvenate!

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I had my first riding lesson back since the winter off and my accident- and it went very well! C had us working through a gymnastic (x to vertical to oxer) and then a single vertical to a diagonal oxer. By the end of the lesson we were working over 3-3’3″ jumps quite easily and Willard wasn’t pulling his usual “first jump school of the year excitement antics”- behaving quite calmly and listening to my direction. Some things I noticed in the tack this lesson was my ability to maintain a good position, not fall forward in anticipation, keep my leg on and ride confidently to a good distance–every single time.

This really shouldn’t be a surprise, because while I haven’t been in the tack much over the last 8 months, and even while having a very broken leg, my AT and I worked hard towards improving my posture and positioning outside of the tack as much as possible while rehabbing my leg. Last weeks lesson was a definite sign to me that those plans are working. Now that I am not bogged down by exams, I’ve been able to begin running again (!!!!), and have regained my usual motivation towards exercise and training in general. Huge relief! I was starting to think it would never come back!

So what do I have planned for the next few months? As usual, many many things will be on the go. Next week I begin spring term, and while I will be taking 3 courses (2 online), I will also be for sure a teaching assistant for one (Anatomy) and possibly a second (First Responder).  Besides this I switch to day shifts at MORfit, to accomodate my school schedule and my football schedule- which starts the second week in May. I am planning to work with Vincent Massey this year, but am also welcome back at Murdoch McKay if I decide to go back to that team. Still debating that decision. I’ve gone back to work at Horse Connection as an Instructor, and will continue with them for one session a week until they wrap up for the year in June. In late May or June I will start yet another job working as a photographer for a local real-estate agent Mon-Fri throughout the summer, and will also likely be a casual support worker with St. Amant to supplement my income.

I am currently working on some research ideas for the summer that tie into my Equestrian Training class, and will be offering biomechanics/position consults to riders in the next few months as an aside to the class. I am quite excited about where these ideas will take me- and very happy to have a knowledgable professor backing me every step of the way. I am hoping to run clinics on a variety of topics for riders, including injury prevention as it relates to position, performance enhancement, and how a rider’s position impacts the horse’s body. Of course tied into all these clinics will be tips for riders on how to improve their ride and overall health both in the saddle and out. I wouldn’t be a Kin student if that wasn’t tied in there somewhere!

My regulars working through one of our total body strength days!

My regulars working through one of our total body strength days!

Outside of work and school- I will be continuing to progress in my own training both in and out of the saddle. I would like to work towards a couple 10kms this summer, as well as get into that Jumper ring. There is serious consideration being put into heading out to Alberta later in the summer to compete with the McMullan team- and it is a good motivation tool for training hard early in the season. I am not planning to do any shows in May- as both time and funds are limited at the moment, and I just won’t be ready to compete this early . I also am not sure my leg is ready for a full show in the early season either, after last week’s lesson I was living proof of how much force travels through a riders joints during jumping- man did I feel the impact for a few days afterwards! One of those things that will improve with time, for sure.

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I’ve also gotten back on track with the clean eating (GF/mostly DF/sugar free (as much as I can)). Over the last few months of the horrid winter and exams, I fell hard off that wagon- and noticed huge changes in how I felt as a result. Now that I am physically able to get back into serious training, the diet has to follow. With the exception of the treats that are always left at the barn to test my willpower- I’ve been doing very good the last while, and am feeling much better for it!

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That’s about all the news I have for the moment. Stay tuned for upcoming info on my rider mechanics clinics, and related posts! I’m going to enjoy the rest of my slack week until spring term starts next week. Tonight is my last evening shift at MORfit for a bit, as I’ll be switching to days- so I’ll have some evenings free until classes and football begin. I’ve really been enjoying the down time!

 

 

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20 written exams, 8 practicals, and 6 papers later…

Another academic year has come to a close (FINALLY), and I am a proud survivor (sometimes thriver) of third year athletic therapy- a year renowned for being among the toughest. 27 exams total, in 10 courses- with countless hours spent practicing- on top of balancing field work in the clinic and the football fields, and somehow finding time to read stuff. It’s safe to see why year 3 is a little (in)famous.

Within this year I got my first taste of the practical side of things, real patient interaction and real emergency response.  Less then 6 months ago if you had put me in a room and told me to effectively assess an injury, deal with it appropriately, and create a rehab program to properly return the patient to appropriate function- there is no way I would have known where to start. If you had thrown me into an emergency scenario and told me to manage it? Disaster might have ensued!

The amount that I’ve learned in what is relatively a very short period of time continues to stun me.  At the same time the amount that I still need to learn, mainly just through experience, is equally as stunning. I set some goals for myself at the beginning of both semesters, and managed to achieve them for the most part. I definitely did much better in the first part of the year, with second semester burnout (and a broken leg) catching me off guard.

Where first semester brought me the self-discipline to get the tough work done efficiently and the ability to be examined practically- second semester taught me to take a step back and do what my body needed to get things done. By the time I got to finals this term, there wasn’t much discipline left- but thankfully there was enough practical and stored knowledge left over to get me through. Practical exams by the end of this year turned into more fun then nerve wracking.

Third year also provided me with a ever growing network of fellow students and colleagues.  With so many opportunities to jump in and get involved, and so many practicals to practice for- it would have been difficult not to become close with classmates. Taking a chance and submitting one of my posts to the national athletic therapy association (CATA) ended up getting it published, which was pretty sweet! Click here for that post. The opportunity also came about for me to do some teaching, both in a fitness respect as well in formal courses with the University. This is definitely something I hope to do more of in the future!

It’s safe to say this year came with some ups and downs. Both time and stress management skills came into action, and one of the most important lessons I learned is probably managing myself under pressure. As an AT student, we deal with a lot of pressure- from our peers, our patients, our profs, the requirements of the degree, and most of all ourselves. Knowing how to micromanage our overwhelmed brains and still extract knowledge to perform is what we do best. It’s a skill we need to do well in our chosen profession, and we need to do it maintaining professionalism and reactivity to our client’s needs.

A concern for me in the past, and especially at the beginning of this year was how I was going to effectively manage to pursue a career in AT as well as continuing my pursuit of my athletic riding goals. Over the last few months I’ve discovered ways in which to optimize my knowledge and practical skills while building a business in the sport I have experience in.

What started as just a training class for riders is ever evolving into new ideas. Since implementing the class I’ve been able to brainstorm with profs over where I might go with this, and recently have begun work on setting up a position assessment program for equestrians- using my knowledge of orthopaedic assessment, biomechanics, and training. I feel very lucky to have endless resources to keep my ideas running, and look forward to developing a directed study on the topic of rider biomechanics and training. As this is an area of the sport not as commonly looked at- I have a chance to create something new to give back to my sport and build a business while maintaining involvement and continuing my own training.

This year I’ve also gotten the chance to step into student politics- and next year will be taking over leadership of the Kinesiology Students Association. I’m excited about the challenge of rebuilding our student involvement schemes in the inaugural year of the brand new athletic and health centre at the University of Winnipeg.

Some key lessons from this year:

  • Day planners are a glorious thing. Thank you moleskin.
  • Athletic tape can be used for many purposes, and should be on hand at all times
  • When people look at you like you’re the one in charge… you should probably do something.
  • It’s okay to not feel guilty about taking a day off.
  • Forgetting your wallet is the only way to ensure you won’t spend money on Starbucks.
  • Smile at the bus driver- because one day you will forget your bus pass and have no change… and it will be -40.
  • Being someone that gets along with everyone is handy.
  • Asking questions is never wrong.
  • Asking for help is never wrong.
  • Saying no is okay.
  • Using crutches to ensure a good spot on the bus is okay.
  • Every prof has a different idea of what APA format is, even if they all recommend the same source for formatting.  You can’t win that battle.
  • Practicals become less scary once you realize that everyone marking you was in the exact same spot as you not too long ago.
  • There is a limit to what you can do.

And so, after writing my last exam on Tuesday- I’ve been enjoying some quiet time. My schedule is dedicated to work, riding, training myself, mental breaks, and doing what I want. I have a week before spring term starts and I’m making the most of the slack schedule (filling it up quicker then I should). Tomorrow I have my first lesson with M&C of the year, and am both excited and nervous. I’ve been back in the saddle for a few weeks now and am feeling pretty good- but not all the way normal yet. However, each time I ride things get better. I’ve been given the okay to begin impact training again by my doctor and ATs- so will hopefully ease my way back into running and conditioning work (now that I’m not hella burnt out and a little motivated again).

 

Among other things I’ve begun writing for MORfit’s blog, and may be publishing pieces on another blog related to rider fitness in the near future. Stay tuned for more on that! Click here for my first post for MORfit, on time management. Hopefully I’ll be a little more motivated to write more for you readers as well, now that my head is out of it’s end of the semester grog.

I also will be working on ideas for the new stream of my functional training for the equestrian business over the next week or so, looking to set up clinics later in May. Funny- biomechanics has become a staple in my goals.. Upon faced with my first ever biomech course and respective project, I was in tears at what seemed to be such an impossible subject for me to grasp. Now it’s something regularly found in my daily vocabulary.

Until next time!

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My reset button is dysfunctional

My how the time is flying.

It’s been a while since I wrote last, and while things have been moving along quick as can be- not much has really changed. I’m still pretty worn out from the past few months, and the last few weeks have been a mad balance between trying to hit reset, and keeping up with myself. I know, contradicting pattern.

Shortly after I wrote last I took an entire three days off of EVERYTHING school related and headed out to Brandon for the Royal Fair. This annual trip is always something I look forward to, and this year I had a teammate and a client competing and got to see them both excel in their respective classes! It was such a nice feeling to physically drive away from the nagging study notes, exam and work schedules for a weekend- sleeping boyfriend in the passenger seat, and passes for the fair ready to go. A big part of me needed the break, and the rejuvenation of seeing a sport I love at a high level.  Some highlights included the numerous visits to the petting zoo and barns with my RMWF rookie beau, spending some quality time with my teammates and friends Lauren and Megg, dancing at the barn bar (leg for sure did not appreciate this, but my head sure did), and eating some disgustingly classic fair food!

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Go Megg Go!

Go Megg Go!

After that weekend I felt a little less burnt out and a little more motivated to keep up with life in general. I came home from the weekend and had to stop at the barn on the way home to get on my horse for the first ride of the year (and my first ride on him since my accident). I can’t begin to tell you how fun that little hack was! Will felt like he’d never been put out to the snow banks for 6 months, and I felt like a new rider. Fair always does this for me, it revives my passion for the sport and reminds me of how deeply rooted my goals are as an athlete. In the week that followed some of that motivation remained, thankfully- as I needed it!

Monday began with a 5:30am shift at MORfit, followed by my first shift returning to Horse Connection as a instructor, and a job interview right after that- then riding both Will and Felix in the evening. I was full of energy, and ready to pick up my study routine (with two exams at the end of the week) for Tuesday, but the Universe intervened and after waking up Tuesday morning with the worst version of the Keystone Centre Cold I’ve ever had. I made it through marking practical exams that morning for the class I was TA-ing for this term (being on that side of the marking table is super fun!) just fine, but by the time I got to MORfit for my evening shift I had also developed food poisoning and ended up both having to leave work (and experience downtown intersection hurling into a plastic bag) to curl up into a ball of discomfort for the rest of the evening. My personal paramedic came to my rescue once again that night and showed up on my door step (with ambulance and partner in tow) to drop off some ginger ale and gravol for me (which wouldn’t stay down anyway). This left me with a day to study for Thursday’s final, and then part of a day to study for Friday’s. Thankfully I still had some motivation in the tank.

Wednesday was all speed studying (and work), and Thursday morning gave me some time to review before my exam. Although I usually avoid cramming as a strategy, this time it worked out great for me with Thursdays exam going by with no hiccups. Other then being that one student in the room who had constant sniffles and sneezes (sorry everybody…). By this point I was running low on energy and motivation, but kept it together for the remainder of the week and got to end off with a lovely ride outside in the crisp air and chat with teammate Megg, who was fresh off a competition week at fair.

While I was supposed to cover football camps this weekend (5:30am-9am), I called in sick as I was legitimately still pretty ill and wanted to catch up on some sleep. Since then I’ve really lost my motivation again for anything involving school work, and been trying to do my best to revive my brain again- to little success. I took today off of next to everything, except for a quick ride on my horse and my regular evening shift.

My leg progress has not really changed too much in the past weeks. Somedays it feels great, other days it feels not so great. I may have a mild case of recovery blues. It really is a day to day thing, but riding doesn’t seem to bug it too much and for that I am grateful. My fear around riding has began to decrease, and I have to give credit to all those around me supporting me every step of the way with this. My teammates Lauren and Megg are the first to 1) relate to everything I’m going through, 2) listen to my ranting and 3) do everything they can to help me out. I’m sure my horse sensed a little bit of hesitation in me and has yet to throw anything my way that would push me over the edge. Many of the conversations had in the barn with Lauren and Megg have solidified that we’re all working towards a common goal and often feel exactly the same way about where we’re at. The frustrations that come with the sport are not ones that are easy to handle alone, so it’s nice to have that network.

With 4 more exams looming, I seem to have taken a very.. uh.. relaxed (I just don’t care anymore) approach. I have little desire to keep up to my schedule at the moment, and have been attempting to scale back on less important commitments so that I can maintain the more important ones with some energy. It does seem at this point that whatever I do to try and “reset” myself, I only end up right back where I was within a few days. I’m constantly reminding myself that I’m doing all these things because I love what I do, even when I’d much rather be at home sleeping or reading a book that doesn’t involve too much science. I’m very ready for exams to be done, and to enjoy a week of no thinking before my spring semester starts.

The realisation that I am pretty much done the second last year of my undergrad is quite motivating. I’m accomplishing long term goals I set years ago left right a centre, and setting new ones that seemed so distant not that long ago. It’s a cool feeling, but also a little bit scary. There’s days where I feel very grown up and ready to take on new things, and even more days where I’m a little bit intimidated by the chunk of life I’m biting off. For right now my focus is getting through the next couple weeks, and maybe even setting up a jumping lesson to push my riding confidence to the next level- and rewarding myself for finishing up a long semester and year.

Here’s hoping the burn out feeling eases off soon!

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