I’m an academic and an Age Group long distance triathlete. I have also been an Ironman Bronze All-World-Athlete for 2017.
I have been a full-time lecturer since late 2013. My academic research concerns drug taking in relation to work and obviously does have some overlap with what I am trying to do here but I’ll try to keep focus on these pages to the idea of being an ‘academic athlete’. I have always been a sporty type and when this took on a whole new level (talk details later!) during my PhD I didn’t really think much of it, other than academics are a little strange and PhD students just simply go mad with the process of giving birth to their thesis and ragging myself with exercise was just my escape. Among my fellow doccies, my nickname was always the ‘Machine’. I wouldn’t bat an eyelid at a 50-hour week working and a 20 hour + week training. And still don’t. Don’t shun me for the work/life boundary issue just yet.
And then I got a full-time post and the triathlete thing continued. Except this time we went all out with my first full distance Ironman in 2014. Whilst this sounds a massive challenge to most, it wasn’t really for me, it hurt a bit but I had been swim, bike, running and weight training for almost a decade and doing other sports since I can remember.
When I first started working I tried not to disclose my ‘other world’. However, if you come into my office at work, see me on campus or at a meeting then it’s pretty obvious. I’ll be eating, always eating and likely also drinking some luminous concoction. I will probably be walking around in my socks without shoes, I will have hopefully put jeans on and not my beloved trackies, but I will likely be wearing my skins and a tatty t-shirt from a race several years ago that will probably say the equivalent of “Beast mode” on the front. Yes, I own that very t-shirt. In race season this attire will be topped off with some very messy race tattoos on my arms, loudly declaring my number from the previous weekend. You’ll also likely find a combination of a bike in its entirety, various components or accessories strewn around nearby too.
Unsurprisingly then the longer I have been in a full-time working post, the more folk at work have begun to ask and inquire about my other world. Even when people look at me like I fell off the Christmas tree when I tell them I have just been training for a couple of hours before a 9am meeting or that I have just cycled a tonne, still I think nothing of it. It’s my normal. Whatever ‘normal’ is.
Academic labour can be grueling and it can hurt. Especially being an Early Career Researcher. I’ll unpack some of those features later but given how much time I spend and have spent doing both of these things I want to play with these ideas and work out what’s occurring, how these two identities co-habit, the similarities and differences. I am guessing, although I don’t know for sure, that most of my words will focus on cycling from a sport perspective and the practice of writing from an academic perspective, but I will try to broaden my horizons where possible. I’ll also try not to make it too cathartic.