Meet Amber - the assistant athletic trainer at University of Alaska - Fairbanks and bad-ass endurance athlete. She ran cross country at University of Wyoming as an undergrad while earning her ATC degree and has done some pretty awesome things since graduating!
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I am responsible for the treatment and evaluation of 9 of our 10 varsity teams here at UAF. In my limited free time I like to train and race triathlons and if it’s warm out (above 0) then I like to go skiing or skijoring with my dog. I have a supportive boyfriend and a 1 ½ year old dog who likes to run and be active as much as I do. If I’m not at work then I’m busy with school, training, hanging out with friends and my boyfriend, and trying to keep busy in the winter. I just loving living in Alaska, I think there are so many things for people to do and if you are adventurous and willing to try new sports then there is no reason why you can’t train all year round and always be healthy. Plus you have to have a little bit of weird in you to actually enjoy living at -40.
Have you always been active? What got you started?
I’ve always been active and I’m pretty confident that I would be lost if I couldn’t be active in some form. I competed in diving, xc, and track/field in high school and then had the opportunity to run for the University of Wyoming xc/track/field team. I never really liked to run when I was younger, in fact I played softball for years and it wasn’t until high school that I was talked into joining xc and that was the beginning of my love for running and training.
What changes when being a college athlete ends?
I did have the opportunity to compete in college, it was limited but I showed up every day and busted my butt to try to be a better running. I think running is one of the few sports that when you graduate you can continue to do and compete in and don’t have to learn a new skill or sport. I think the biggest thing that changes after you graduate is your constant training partners and the 2-3 hr. time block that is always carved out in your day. I have to say I struggled a little after college and figuring out how to training without friends always there and having to train at super weird hours of the day.
What is your biggest challenge as a busy athletic trainer?
I think the hardest thing is finding the time and energy to balance training and work. I’ve had weeks where I’ve worked up to 65-70 hrs a week and 10-12hrs of training scheduled so finding the time can be my biggest challenge. I tend to try to find some downtime during the day to get into the weight room and I’ve biked to work to get in my bike workouts and I’ve even biked in temps as low as -20-25 just to get in my workout. (The) nice thing is you are in an athletic facility so any down time can be spent training if possible. I would also say eating right can be difficult since you don’t have normal hours and often times can’t get home to have a good meal so you are eating what you can eat. I would love to eat more fruit but unfortunately fruit is very expensive up here and can be a real hit or miss on quality.
Who do you like to train with?
I had a couple of great training partners/teammates in college and once I graduated I was forced to run/train on my own. Once I moved to Alaska I found a Master’s swim team to train with and was introduced to my future roommate who also raced triathlons and we really trained well together. Unfortunately she moved to NC with her husband and so now I’m training with one of UAF’s old women’s basketball players and that seems to work out well. I think it’s easier to get up in the morning and train by yourself when the sun is just about to rise but here in Alaska when the sun doesn’t start to rise until 10:30-11am then it’s nice to have a friend meet you in the dark cold mornings.
What is your favorite workout?
I have to say my favorite workouts are brick workouts. A brick is when I get to ride the bike for a set amount of time and then transition into a run. I find that the bike really warms up my legs and hips and I tend to feel better and run a lot better when I have a good bike before. I guess it works out perfectly for triathlons since the run is after the bike. I think the only down side to it is that a brick can last several hours so you have to plan your day around it, which means some days I’m up at 5am prepping to get on the bike by 5:30am in order to make it to work on time. I think the earliest I ever got up for a training brick was 3am and that’s because my roommate had to work at 7am and we needed to get in a good day of training.
What is your go-to breakfast?
I tend to eat whatever cereal I have on hand. I’m a fan of the multi-grain cheerios and cinnamon apple chex. If it’s Sunday then I try to make some eggs or pancakes.
How about a favorite post-workout snack?
My favorite post workout snack is a banana (slightly green, all yellow with spots is gross) and a glass of chocolate milk.
Any foods you completely avoid?
Um, I’ve cut back on my grains a bit but with my hours of work I’m just happy to get to eat a meal that I cooked. I try to my best to prep my food beforehand but sometimes it can be hard. I do avoid as much as I possibly can (which is pretty easy) fast food.
Do you ever have a splurge day? What's your favorite food?
I’m not sure I really have a splurge day since I’m generally just excited to get to eat a real meal but I would say Sunday with my go-to of pancakes. I’ll eat like four of them just because I never get to eat them any other time of the week. If I’m visiting my parents in Colorado my one request is always homemade fried chicken and mash potatoes. It’s kind of an advantage that I’m a terrible cook because most of the food I make is pretty simple so anytime I get really adventurous is a special day for me.
What is your favorite sport?
I would say one of my favorite sports to watch is xc and track/field but one of my favorite ones to train for is triathlons because there are so many training options and if you can’t run due to an injury then you still have two other events to train for.
You live in Alaska - how do you stay warm while training?
Staying warm in Alaska can be a bit of challenge however I’m kind of gear junkie so it at least allows me to buy some really sweet gear. The word “cold” also becomes very subjective in Alaska, once you’ve spent a week at -40, anything above that is warm. I like to wear a Skhoop when walking around and boots and I always have a hat and gloves on. I tend to only ski when it’s above zero because my fingers great really really cold. When I ski I like to just wear tights, ski pants, a fleece shirt and a windproof coat, hat and gloves. I’m a horrible xc skier so I tend to stay really warm because I’m using so much energy to just keep morning forward. When I bike outside it’s usually fleece tights, windproof pants, boots, a long sleeve and a windproof coat, a winter helmet with a buff around my neck, ski goggles, and then my poggies for my hands. I’ve learned not to run outside anymore, I figured after years of running in high school and college on ice that I don’t need to run on ice anymore plus I sweat a lot and in this weather if you sweat and then stop for a few min it can be a very costly decision so I just run inside now.
What motivates you?
I’m not quite sure what motivates me. I’m surrounded all day but very active and fit people and I feel that if I’m not active then how can they take my advice seriously. I guess I feel better when I’m fit and while in grad school I slacked off quite a bit on my fitness and felt I couldn’t do as much as I once was able to do. I didn’t like how I was beginning to look so I decided that I’ve got to just stay active and always look for new things to try. I’m willing to try a new exercise at least once and I’m always game for something really hard.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
I completed my first Ironman race in 2010 and had a grand time doing it. I had always wanted to finish an Ironman race before I was 30 so that was a huge accomplishment. I finished Ironman Canada in 14:10 and it was probably one of the more difficult things to not only finish but to train for. There were a couple of 7 hr training days and too many early morning training days to count but in the end it was worth it. My next goal is to do Ironman Boulder in 2015.
Speaking of goals - any for 2014?
I’m going to do a couple of 5k races here in town in April and May and then I’m flying to Raleigh, NC in June to race with my old roommate in the Raleigh 70.3 (half ironman). After that I’ll be home in Colorado for a couple of weeks and race the local race in Loveland, CO and then come back to Fairbanks and race the local 70.3 (Sourdough half) that is here in town. After the Sourdough then I’ve got to switch gears into training for just straight running and do the Equinox Marathon.
I think some of my healthy goals would be to get as strong as I can. I would like to be able to squat at least my body weight and then more. I would like to race another Ironman in the future so that’s one of the goals. I would also like to reduce my time in the Equinox marathon that is held here in Fairbanks, it’s one of the top 15 hardest marathons and so I would like to try to run a decent time.
Any advice for a first time triathlete?
My advice is to not get caught up in all of the gear and feeling that you don’t have the right equipment. A good friend always said that the rider makes the bike and I’ve blown by people who have bikes that cost 3-4x more than mine. Also don’t get hung up on what everyone looks like. I think that’s another reason why I like triathlons, there are so many different people of all different shape and sizes and skills. I just try to encourage anyone to try a Tri because they are fun events and generally if you do one you get hooked and start to figure out the areas you need to get stronger in. You can also talk to other experienced triathletes and see what they would recommend for the particular race you are doing just so you don’t go in blind.
THANKS AMBER and GO NANOOKS!
This is a segment of a monthly feature on Home Field Fitness. I love sharing what fit and healthy women in the sports world are doing! They sure motivate me - and my hope is that they will motivate you too! If you know someone (or you yourself) that should be featured here - send me a message!
It's great to see you! I'm Alyssa and I blog about all the things I've found "essential" in my life as a fit mama and football coach's wife. You'll find all kinds of fun stuff here like workouts, oily info, football stories and more!
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