By the age of 14, Rebecca Campsall was placed fourth in the English schools championships. In 2013, she qualified for the British championships – and continues to compete at the highest level. She took some time to talk to us about how big a role sleep plays in her strenuous training regime.
what do you love most about athletics?
“I want to push myself to be the absolute best that I can be. Athletics gives me the opportunity to do that in something that I love. It’s great to be in an environment with everyone striving to reach their potential and supporting each other along the way in both a training and competitive environment.”
what have been your greatest athletic achievements?
“I loved returning to the sport and becoming Yorkshire champion again in 2015 as I did 10 years ago as an under 15! I was also delighted to represent Yorkshire at the National Inter Counties in my first 2 seasons back in the sport. Also in my last competition of 2015 I placed 7th in the England championships.”
what motivates you?
“Having so much time out of the sport and watching others develop has really inspired me to come back and give it 100% to really be the best I can be. I want other people to realise it’s not too late to get back into something that you really enjoy. I had almost 10 years off but I love that I can demonstrate to people that with hard work you can still achieve your goals.”
what does your typical training schedule look like?
“Aside from on rest weeks which occur at 4 and 6 week intervals; I train 6 days a week. The sessions comprise of one circuits session, three track sessions and three weights sessions. I realise that is seven sessions – we do two sessions on Sundays!!”
what are your essentials when training?
“People should never underestimate the fundamentals. A good pair of trainers, water (hydration is vital!), and a good nights sleep!”
what injuries have you incurred over your athletic career?
“I am prone to getting shin splints during winter when the volume increases. I used to get them as a kid and I still do now. With regular physio sessions and keeping on top of rehab stretches and exercises I can now keep them at bay but it does get quite frustrating.”
how do you combat fatigue or any injurys that are obtained during training for an event?
“Time management is essential to ensure you get adequate sleep. A good physio is worth his or her weight in gold. I see Janine Midgely at West Yorkshire Physiotherapy centre and she never fails to get me back on track. I’m also lucky enough to have a parent who is a sports therapist (Shaun Owen, York) who can always see me at late notice and that’s incredibly valuable especially around competition time.”
how important is sleep to an athlete’s a) preparation b) performance and c) recovery?
“Sleep is imperative to preparation as it can affect you both mentally and physically. You can’t turn up to training on a sunday morning knowing you have 2000m of hill sprints and a 90 minute gym session without having had enough sleep the night before. This of course impacts on performance massively, it’s so important in sprinting that you are feeling at your best at all times. Fatigue can impact on your ability to generate power, your reaction time, and your psychological state. Recovery, well I can get in from training at 3pm on a Sunday and be asleep by 4pm, so my body certainly thinks that sleep is absolutely vital for recovery!!”
what tips would you offer any fellow athlete on gaining quality and healthy sleep?
“Of course a quality mattress such as an eve mattress should be at the top of this list. Not only is it great for comfort which is important for getting to sleep quicker, but because it is so well made it means that you never wake up with aching joints like I’m sure many people have experienced after sleeping on other mattresses. I would also suggest that people don’t over or under sleep because this can have negative effects. Everyone requires different levels of sleep so work out what you work best on and try to stick to that.”
and finally, what advice would you give anyone thinking of getting involved in athletics competitively?
“Find a good coach and training group, do what your coach tells you and support the people in your training group. Those are the key essentials to making sure you enjoy the sport and reach your full potential. It’s much easier to put 100% into your training when you love what you do!”