Welcome to Refinery29’s Feel Good Diaries, where we chronicle the physical and mental wellness routines of women today, their costs, and whether or not these self-care rituals actually make you feel good.

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Today: a student athlete finding balance between preseason practice, hanging with friends, and making time for rest.

Editor’s Note: This diary was written in January 2022.

Age: 20

Location: Upstate NY

Occupation: Student athlete

Salary: N/A

Day One

9 a.m. — ​​I wake up early for my first track and field practice of the day. Before getting ready, I take my vitamins — zinc, elderberry, vitamin D, and a B vitamin complex — and eat a quick breakfast of protein oatmeal with my favorite toppings: vanilla almond butter and blueberries. I try to do my grocery shopping every other week. For supplemental things, I sometimes have to go in between. But overall, I try to spend no more than $125 a month on groceries.

After breakfast, my housemates and I carpool to our preseason practice on campus in the gym. After warming up, we go through speed training that includes sled pulls, block starts, and a lot of sprinting.

It feels great to be back with my team after the winter break and to be surrounded by like-minded people. My body did feel slightly tight when sprinting. but I’m happy to be doing what I love. I have been running track since the 7th grade. One day in gym class, my teacher noticed that I was fast and recommended my mom put me in track. Because my school was new, my mom recommended that a track team be started and the rest is history! Since then I have continued running and working out. My parents did not play organized sports but have been invested in track since it has become a huge part of my life. As a family we do watch sporting events together — especially track and field during the Olympics.

12 p.m. — Before my afternoon practice session, I go back home to eat a late breakfast. I make myself two eggs, two slices of turkey bacon, and an English muffin. After I eat, I go to the weight room on campus for my afternoon session, which is a full-body lift. This lift consists of heavy box squats, bench presses, good mornings, and step-ups.

Being in the weight room with my teammates is a lot of fun, but the workout is definitely challenging. To make sure I recover, I drink my supplements that consist of BCAAs and creatine right after and foam roll my hamstrings. My BCAAs costs $23.99 and my creatine costs $15.99. I buy BCAAs and creatine about once every other month. I usually get small packs, but think I need to start getting them in bulk.

6 p.m. — For dinner I make rice, black beans, and pork tenderloin with a mushroom cream sauce. This meal turned out delicious and is simple enough to make. After I eat, I make sure to roll and stretch for half an hour. I also make myself some chamomile tea to help me relax before bed.

Rolling my lower body and stretching helps my legs to feel less tight before I go to sleep and also helps me feel fresh for tomorrow’s practice.

Daily Total: $0

Day Two

9 a.m. — I wake up the same time I do every day and eat my usual breakfast of protein oats. When I go to bed at a good time (which for me is before 11 p.m.) I wake up energized. Some mornings I wake up tired, but that’s usually after a tough couple of days. I love sleeping in — I am not a morning person.

I have practice at 9:45 a.m., and run tempo workout of 200s. Tempo workouts for runners are when you run the same distance at a certain speed, hitting a certain time, for a certain amount of reps. So, tempo 200s could be running 200 meters, six times, with two-minute rests in between. My favorite workouts are probably bike tempo (which is the same idea, just on a bike while biking slowly for rest in between sets). Afterward, we go through a quick core routine with multiple plank variations.

The tempo workout was hard to get through as the gym was very stuffy and I had my mask on. My hamstrings are also very tight this morning from yesterday’s lift. Despite these two factors, I’m able to get through the workout and I feel accomplished when it’s over.

COVID has definitely impacted my life as an athlete. My sophomore year, my team lost our indoor track season and didn’t get to practice together. Wearing a mask is really hard when running indoors because it’s really hard to breathe — but it’s a small price to pay to practice together and race again. 

12 p.m. — Before afternoon practice starts, I get a free lunch on campus. Off-campus athletes are able to eat on campus on a rolling schedule of two days in a row every three days during the preseason. Outside of this, I do have a small meal plan to help me throughout the academic year.

I eat penne alfredo with spinach, mushrooms, and chicken with garlic bread on the side. After I eat, I’m able to go back home and lay down for a little before 3 p.m. practice. Resting between practices is very important because recovery is the key to being a great athlete. Without recovery, you can’t perform at your greatest potential. Being able to rest is amazing, especially after a hard practice or day.

For our afternoon session, I cross-train on a stationary bike for 30 minutes. Being able to flush out my legs on the bike feels great for my hamstrings. After, I go through an upper-body lift that includes curls, military presses, pull-ups, and bent-over rows.

The lift gave me a pump in the triceps which was very empowering. I love that the ladies on my team push each other in our upper body training and I love how strong I feel afterward.

6 p.m. — I eat my leftover jasmine rice and black beans with grilled chicken for dinner, then drink my supplements: BCAAs and creatine. For some self-care, I light my favorite Pumpkin Vanilla candle from Target and turn on Euphoria while I relax in bed. Before I go to sleep, I drink Sleepytime tea, roll out my hamstrings with my foam roller, and use my massage gun. I use a FIIHO portable massage gun that I got Christmas two years ago from my parents.

I’m relieved to finally relax today — my body is feeling fatigued from yesterday’s and today’s workouts. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping when I have a lot on my mind. I do get stressed before bed, but usually because I was just doing homework.

Daily Total: $0

Day Three

2 p.m. — After another hard practice of speed work, I treat myself to my favorite Starbucks drink: a hot chai with brown sugar and oat milk. This drink was well-deserved after working out so consistently. I felt much faster and stronger during practice today. ($7)

After I get home, I make sure to use my massage gun on my calves and hamstrings for a while, and then stretch for 15 minutes. I set a stopwatch on my phone while I am stretching so I can hold each stretch for at least a minute. This keeps me accountable to make sure I am stretching for at least 10 minutes a day.

5 p.m. — Tonight I get dinner on campus with my teammates. When I get home I order some ear plugs for sleeping and some Beta Alanine as recommended by my coach to aid muscle endurance. ($26)

Daily Total: $33

Day Four

10:30 a.m. — Practice this morning is light. We do some biking, yoga, and mobility. For mobility workouts, we do barefoot toe and heel walks, lunges, leg swings, and hip circles as well as some yoga and stretching. 

It feels great on my body since I’m feeling pretty fatigued from the week so far. After practice, I get a large bowl and soaked my calves in Epsom salt that I bought at Walmart (I only need to buy a bag once a season or so). While soaking, I watched my all-time favorite show, A Different World. Other than this, for recovery, I just use my massage gun and foam roller after workouts.

8 p.m. — For dinner, my friends and I go to Chipotle. Sports take up a lot of my time. But I still have non-athlete friends that I work with or have met in my classes, who I try to see regularly. At Chipotle, I order my usual: a steak burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans, lettuce, cheese, guacamole, a little sour cream, and green salsa. The whole drive back we blast our favorite songs — we’re just happy we didn’t have to cook dinner! I only eat out maybe once a week, though — I usually try to cook or use my meal plan instead. ($12.91).

Daily Total: $12.91

Day Five

9 a.m. — To start my long day, I eat my usual breakfast and make sure to take my vitamins and prepare my supplements. I have work later on, so I pack a snack pack. At practice, we get to jump in the pool after our workout to do some water drills. This feels great on my legs after running around in the gym. It’s also fun to play volleyball and red light-green light in the pool with my teammates.

9:30 p.m. — I just got off the job I work at my school — I do different tasks at home games. Today, I moved the camera around for the live stream at the men’s and women’s basketball games. Some of the other tasks I’ve done are ushering and selling tickets, and I’ve worked during field hockey, soccer, and ice hockey. I get paid $13.20 an hour.

Tonight, I’m exhausted! When I get home, I go straight in the shower and drink some hot Lipton tea. I put on warm pajamas and get in bed to watch some Euphoria before I fall asleep. Laying in bed feels great after being on my feet all day at practice and at work. I always appreciate just being able to relax and think about how grateful I am for getting through another day.

Daily Total: $0

Day Six

8:30 a.m. — I wake up early for practice. Before I leave, I have a light breakfast of Honey Nut Cheerios and a banana. At practice we do more sprint work, such as banana hurdle runs. After running in the gym, I go to the weight room for a full body plyo lift. Plyo lifts are light and fast weight training workouts that are all about being explosive versus lifting heavy. They’re great because they make me feel very explosive, which helps with my race mechanics. 

8 p.m. — It’s Saturday night, so my housemates and I have friends over for a fun game night. I live with three of my teammates, and it’s great to unwind and laugh after a hard week with my friends on the team. We play Uno, Cards Against Humanity, Spoons, and Incoherent, and order pizza from 7/11 at around 10 p.m. when we all got hungry. My portion came to $20.

Daily Total: $20

Day Seven

10:30 a.m. — On Sundays I get to wake up late and not have to worry about practice. With the extra time on my hands, I make myself a big breakfast of grits, two eggs, and two sausage patties. Even though it’s just a meal, it feels like a reward to finally eat what I want in the morning. For the rest of the day, I allow myself to relax and binge-watch more Euphoria.

6 p.m. — Thankfully, I do not have to cook dinner tonight because I get to eat on campus. After dinner, I take a long shower and go to bed early because I’m so tired from the week.

Daily Total: $0

Weekly Total: $65.91

Reflection: My overall wellness and wellness routine is very important to me. There were times in my life when I was not taking care of myself, but now that I’m in college and have many responsibilities, I make sure that I take some time out to cater to my needs as a student-athlete. Wellness is all about giving your body what it deserves, no matter what society deems as healthy or correct. This has a lot more to do than just what you eat, but also the habits you create and the people you surround yourself with.

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