With a new school year underway, I’d like to share some practical advice about
balancing school, training and exams. I completed my A-Levels in June this year (2018) whilst training 20 hours per week and undertaking a full race schedule.
Between March and July I competed in six international triathlon union (ITU) races,
two of which coincided with exams.
I set two clear goals which provided the necessary motivation to undertake this difficult task.
Goal 1. Achieve a minimum of A*AA in my exams that would gain me a place at
Loughborough University to study Engineering
Goal 2. Win the Junior Asian Champs and score valuable qualification points towards
the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Here are my top tips on how to get your study and training done and to keep your passion at an optimal level.
Sleep and Nutrition
In order to recover well and have enough mental and physical energy, nutrition and
sleep are essential. In my most intense week I had 6 exams in the span of 4 days
and still managed to put in over 20 hours of training. I prioritised 7-8 hrs sleep every
night by running a strict school, revision, and training schedule. Nutrition was also a
priority with the aim of starting each session in the best possible condition,
ensuring I didn’t fatigue. Planning the right types of food for before, during and after
each training helped with this. Keeping it simple and discussing the strategy with my
coach gave me peace of mind.
Throughout this whole experience I was extremely thankful for the support of my family and coach. They worked together throughout my 2 years of A-levels. One such example was their communication when it came to holiday time. Ensuring I could spend time with family in a location and at a time where training could still take place was often discussed. Knowing I had them there as a safety net gave me the belief I could get everything done and achieve my goals. My recommendation is to work with people that you believe in, are as driven as you, and have experience in getting the job done.
My two major goals mentioned above were devised using the “SMART" acronym.
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely. These goals were always in the
back of my mind and focused on during tough times. Writing your goals down and
having them somewhere visible (e.g above your desk) can help. However, on a day to day basis I focused on enjoying the process and all the benefits competitive sport and education have to offer.
To conclude: after a busy and nerve racking wait, my exam results came through as A*A*AB in Physics, Maths, Further Maths and Economics respectively. I managed to keep up my training to defend my Asian Junior Champs title and followed up with a 6th place at the World Junior Champs . My University places have been successfully deferred and I am on track with my Tokyo 2020 qualification.
I hope my advice has been helpful or inspiring. I suggest giving it your all. Remember there are no short cuts to anywhere worth going.