Meet Rebecca Robinson, a Sports and Exercise Doctor who is working with elite teams such as GB Boxing. Rebecca is also an elite marathoner. She has represented GB in Mountain running, winning team gold in 2015, and also represented GB in the European Marathon Championships in 2010. We caught up with Rebecca to find out a little more about her hectic schedule and how FitrWoman is helping her and the athletes she works with.
I started running cross country at school and never looked back – joining an athletics club as a teenager was key. Over the years I’ve stayed friends with the people I used to train with at school...and made great friends with the ones I’ve shared racing trips with round the world!
I’ve had parallel paths training in medicine and with my running. Bizarrely, I didn’t run to represent GB until I’d qualified as a junior doctor so it was pretty busy and I think for four years my only holidays involved international races and then coming back to night shifts. But I wouldn’t swap it. In 2010, I ran for GB in the marathon at the European Championships and that was the year I started training in sports medicine, which I’m now a consultant in.
I love the variety in my job which is all about keeping athletes healthy but also exercise medicine which shows how physical activity can help people with serious illness. And I’m still trying to run faster too!
The week’s quite eclectic but a typical day, like today, is a quick check of emails (sports medicine emails and calls are 24/7 and usually need an immediate answer!) before a short but sharp hill run and then it's into a busy oncology clinic.
In the oncology clinic, it’s always inspiring to see how patients want to, and can, stay active – whether it’s walking the dog or getting on an exercise bike.
Lunchtime is a run-commute to the English Institute of Sport to work with elite athletes, which involves assessing injury, monitoring illness and increasingly talking about menstrual cycles with female athletes to help them optimise their health.
Their training goes on until the evening. Then I’ll try to get some gym work done before heading home to recheck those emails and call up athletes, physios and coaches. Then I'll work on research interests (exercise in cancer and female athlete health) – multi-tasking with dinner!
On Tuesdays, I try to make sure I make a group training session and Saturdays are usually a run in the peaks or lakes area (ideally with cake afterwards!).
There are so many to choose from! I think it would have to be the women who broke the mould like Kathrine Switzer, the first female marathon runner, and modern day pioneers like Nicola Adams who transformed women’s boxing. From a sports and lifestyle point of view, fellow doctor Lucy Gossage has been a multi-Ironman champion and still has so much energy as an oncology consultant.
I’ll often feel super-nervous several days before an event and running actually helps that. By the time the race day approaches, I usually feel calmer and start looking forward to it. Choosing to feel excited rather than nervous is a good mantra, but I still get butterflies!
If my week has been hectic, I’ll try to take a rest day before it’s too late. It’s better to recover than dig a hole or get ill. Having said that, if I’m tired because of work or lack of sleep (rather than volume of training), I’ll take off my watch and run easy and pay more attention to the sunset!
I’m excited to start back racing with a better plan and some focus on the roads. I’m still motivated and believe there are faster days ahead when I see ladies in their later 30s and 40s running so well and chasing international times. I’m also excited for the athletes I work with and many will be qualifying for the 2020 Olympics soon. It’s great to see them realise their dreams.
For a start, I wish I’d had FitrWoman earlier!
There’s a great advantage to getting to know your cycle at a young age as everyone is different. It means you can adapt training to suit your body. And I’d encourage athletes to do this and talk with their coaches about it too.
Women’s sport has lagged behind men’s and even in medicine, most medicines and methods are tested on men. But I have a feeling female athletes will soon have the edge because we really didn’t know how much we had to gain by listening to our body’s rhythms until now – and we’re still learning!
FitrWoman helps me every day with the athletes I train. It’s great to see how female athletes can now really ‘own’ their health and they come to me with their plans rather than the other way around.
Personally, as a busy doctor and an athlete, it saves so much time and hassle. Like every woman, there are the days when I feel heavy legged, and days when I could run all day, and days when I just want to eat chocolate...the app is great to recognise the signs and nudge training and nutrition choices. And stop me complaining to my coach!
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