Life at Loughborough Part One: Positive Feedback Loop

Roy Barber

So what is life like being a first year student at Loughborough University, trying to juggle studying and training and socialising and all the other things you have to concern yourself with at Uni? For me; yeah it’s hard work, it’s challenging, it’s exhausting at times, but it sure is immense fun!

There I am, up at the crack of dawn on a cold winters morning heading down to the track for training before rushing off to a full day of lectures, not knowing whether I’ll be running round the tartan oval at full speed today or haplessly trying to Ice Skate round it in a flimsy pair of sprint spikes thanks to a thick overnight frost. After being up late last night frantically ploughing through the books, trying to cobble together an essay for an upcoming deadline, I’m now awake again after what seems like very little rest, trying to get my training done, in a partially sleep deprived state, as it’s the little time I have to do so before getting stuck into the lectures and the coursework again during the day. Thankfully, I know that tomorrow will be better, today is just one of those days you have to go through sometimes as an athlete at University, the fact that no two days are the same can often be a big relief at times!

I ought to put it out there straight away that although I am an aspiring sprinter, I’m never going to be the next Usain Bolt or even all that close to that level (sorry guys), but I really do work hard with my sprinting, maybe I’m a bit primeval or just a little bit childish, but there’s something about running terrifically fast that just gives me such a buzz which nothing else can match. You might think balancing training, studying, socialising and everything else would be really hard, and it can be, but generally I think I’m able to do a decent enough job of it. It definitely helps when two of those aspects intertwine beautifully to form, what my Physiology lecturer would most certainly call, a positive feedback loop. What I mean by this is that you learn something in a lecture which you then try to apply to your training or diet and subsequently you go looking for more info in the lecture materials to help further your understanding and how you apply it, thus creating a loop. I can’t say this happens all the time, certainly not some modules where you find it hard to keep your eyes open, but when it does happen it is very pleasing and doubly beneficially to you.


Personally, I believe you really can’t underestimate the influence that being at somewhere like Loughborough has on you as a sports performer. Walking around campus everyday trying not to be too starstruck when seemingly half the countries sporting elite are strolling past in the opposite direction can certainly be a little tricky at first, but it soon becomes such a brilliant motivator. For me the thought that I’m here using exactly the same facilities as the top guys in the country across so many sports day in day out is fantastic and always helps me to work that little bit harder. When you see the likes of Dwain Chambers, Lisa Dobriskey, Liam Tancock and Ashley Giles, to name but a few, on a regular basis you realise they are all normal people just like you and gives you that mentality of why couldn’t I be like them if I really knuckled down and put in the hard work. I think that whilst you’re at University you really ought to make use of all the provisions available to you that may benefit you in any way either short term or long term, after all when you’re only likely to be here for 3 years you might as well make good use of the time you’ve got!  I’d be lying if I said finding the time to fit in training around studying and the ‘non-elite’ opening hours of the gym and the track isn’t sometimes difficult but, as with anything, you find a way to get the job done when you’re really motivated to do so.

Now that I’ve begun painting you a picture of my life and times as a student at arguably the world’s greatest sporting institute, be sure to subscribe to the Sativa Shakes Blog where I will be contributing regular, insightful blogs where you can read more about sports nutrition advice, training, shopping for health conscious students on a budget, recipes, the importance of protein and further insight into life as a Loughborough University student and athlete. Naturally, if you have any questions or queries or have any recommendations in terms of subject matter for these blogs please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Roy Barber


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