The life of a UELSports athletics scholar

   Merry Christmas and Happy Boxing Day! Although, to be honest, I am still unsure what Boxing Day is. The fall semester is almost over!I have one last paper due for class which unfortunately will not be completed until 11:59pm on January 6th (1 minute before closes) due to my overwhelming fear of submitting an incomplete paper.

   In my last blog entry, I wrote about the new people I have met, and the entry’s overall tone expressed how every experience was exciting and refreshing.Unfortunately, time has a pesky habit of wearing down fresh appearances.Alas, the past two months haven’t been overwhelmingly exhilarating.Each day has, more or less, involved the same routines as the previous day.However, while these routines may seem mundane and dull at first glance; every day at UEL has been just as emotionally and mentally stimulating as when I arrived; which is helping to create a very rewarding experience.

   In school, most days involve attending the same lectures, listening to the same professors and sitting next to the same students.However, every time I leave class, I find my braining buzzing with new questions; which is pretty remarkable.Professor Dixon and Professor Bourne have done an incredible job challenging our preconceived ideas towards exercise science. Whenever I finally grasp a new concept, they manage to throw a curve ball at my brain which leaves me dumbfounded and scratching my head.The students also greatly contribute to this learning environment.With students specializing in different exercise backgrounds, it makes for a very fun “witch’s brew” of knowledge and learning.Whenever I am in the library, or reviewing a paper with another student, it is always exciting to see what new perspective I will gain from listening to their experiences.

   In running, to say that every day involves the same routines is a gross understatement.  There is no sexiness with endurance training (this is doubly true for me; sexiness is not the adjective people use when watching me run).Distance running revolves around repetition.With the physical goal being that through the repetitive stress of running, the body will adapt and become stronger.The mental goal is to reinforce positive decision making; which, if repeated enough, will become a habit.But what makes this seemingly mundane activity so rewarding are the people I interact with.Whenever I finish a run and head into the SportsDock to stretch, it is always a pleasure to run into Matt Tansley (who recently became a father). He always finds the time talk before running off to accomplish his next errand.These interactions also provide wonderful learning experiences.After a massage, Amy Smith let me borrow a book concerning muscle fascia and its importance within the body.While returning from an indoor track meet, I found myself picking Andre Fernandez’s brain about sprint training periodization.During lifting sessions, I take cues from Duncan Ogilvie and the other athletes he works with who are all more athletic than me. Even though I can accurately guess what workout I will be doing tomorrow with Coach Peter McHugh and the Run-Fast training group, I find myself anxious and excited about the upcoming experience.I believe what makes all these mundane activities so enriching and exciting is the constant opportunity to surround myself with genuinely good individuals who have a genuine interest in contributing and enriching the community they live in(it also doesn’t hurt to have common interests).

   Over the past two months, the hardest part is being away from friends, family and loved ones.I chose to stay in London during the Christmas break so I could continue these mundane routines.Having such easy access to a library means that this paper I turn in will be richer, and hopefully more academic and by keeping with my running routines, it will hopefully help produce a better result at the BUCS Championships. It is difficult knowing that I cannot create new and enriching experiences with loved ones back home.There are a few very special individuals in the states whom I have learned to love greatly over the years and to whom I owe so much in my development as a person.I miss interacting with these individuals on a daily basis and on a personal level (something is lost in email and skype).I have no idea what I will do once I graduate, which is both exciting and terrifying, but I know that my UEL education will help create a brighter future. While I am enjoying this once in a life time opportunity, I do look forward to the day when I return home with my UEL degree and reconnect with loved ones.

Colin Leak


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