Infinit Canada's November Athlete of the Month
At the beginning of an athlete’s journey, before they realize just how great they can be, there is a search of discovery and wonder as to which sport will dictate that direction and competitive drive. Every athlete has a journey where they face highs and lows which helps build them not only as an athlete but as a person too.
Most track and field athletes dream of one day representing their country in the Summer Olympic games - to face the best of the best in the world and win a gold medal. Our Infinit Canadian Athlete of the Month is a Gold Medal winner at the 2015 Pan Am games and a 2-time Olympian who holds the current Canadian record for the women’s 800 m. This month’s Infinit Athlete is Melissa Bishop.
Infinit Nutrition Canada had the wonderful opportunity of speaking with Melissa in a Q & A session and learned more about her journey in becoming the woman she is today and what the highs and lows in her career meant to her.
What got you into running?I played soccer first, and my coach used to tell me I could outrun the ball. One day my soccer coach told me that I would be in the Olympics one day which spawned this idea that I wanted to be in the Olympics. One day in grade 4 on the daily school announcements, they announced there was going to be a track & field tryout and so I tried out. From that point on, I’ve been running ever since.
What instilled the drive to be the best you can be?I’ve always been driven. Ever since I’ve been playing sports, I always wanted to be the best at what I was playing. In 2011, after graduation, I decided I wanted to try to make it to the Olympics, so I dedicated all my time and training to reach that goal.
When you’re out there competing and running on the track, what is going through your mind?
Training and competing are two different mindsets, when I’m competing I’m focused on carrying out the plan my coaches and I have set out to do. When I’m running just two laps, there isn’t much time to make decisions, you have to stick to the plan and go for it! You really can’t waste any time thinking about it because the race will be over by then.
When I’m training, it depends on several factors… it could be dependent on how much I’m hurting or if I’m feeling really good. I put myself into race scenarios and identify at what points during the race I need to be taller, need to have good knee drive or I need to pick up the pace. It really depends on several factors both physical, mental and where I’m at in the workout.
When you’re preparing for a meet, is it an equal balance of preparation between mental and physical?
When I’m in prime fitness, such as Rio 2016, everyone who is on the track is at the best physical shape of their lives and that is what we have physically prepared ourselves to be ready for. The mental side is just as important and I’ve worked very hard on the mental side of preparation. I’m always continuously working on both leading up to a major event.
What was that feeling like qualifying for the 2012 Olympics in London?
It was very exciting and very emotional. I was at the qualifying meet in Calgary, Alberta and I knew had to finish in the top three to guarantee my ticket to London. My entire family was there in the stands watching that day. I just remember crossing that line and realizing that I had qualified and that was it, all my dreams came true! I can’t describe or put into words the excitement or emotions going through my mind, but all I can remember in that moment is that I made it. To top it off, I was able to walk in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics which really put everything into perspective – I’m really here!
What was the biggest thing you took away from your first Olympic experience?
When it came to the race, at that point in my career, I was so new to the international scene, I was new to training full time. I didn’t really understand what it meant to be the best or racing at that level. So the race wasn’t what I expected or what I had planned. The sport has no feelings so it will break your heart sometimes and that’s exactly what it did. From that point on, I swore to myself I would make it out of the first round the next time. I just never wanted to feel that heartbreak again. So the next four years it was a lot more training, experience and maturing. I was so young when I went to London and that experience is exactly what I needed to propel me to the next level.
What was it like becoming Canadian women’s record holder for the 800m?
That was just as exciting! It was in 2015 and I was in Beijing, China for the World Championships when I broke that record. It had happened in the semi-finals so I still needed to keep my cool and not get too excited because I still had another race. So I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much when it happened, because I needed to maintain my focus to prepare for the finals. There is so much energy that goes into a race so I couldn’t waste that energy going into the finals. What made that even more exciting, is leading up to that year, I had suffered two big injuries and I had never been injured in my career before that. Just last year, I beat that record in Monaco, so I got to enjoy that a bit more.
When preparing for the meets, do you have a specific diet or favourite meal?
More or less, keeping food in my body for energy. I always travel with peanut butter and can usually get bread and bananas wherever I go. It’s all about nutrition and feeding your body properly. I’ve found out how difficult maintaining your nutrition on the road can be. It’s extremely difficult when you go to different countries because in some countries, they don’t have the same food as we do. You have to become very savvy in understanding what you’re eating in different countries. But over the years, Infinit Canada has been the staple I have with me all the time. I have used various Infinit products and they are always in my bag.
Has Infinit Nutrition Canada had an impact on your career as an athlete?
Yes, it has, because never had I had a product that was tailored specifically for my needs. It never occurred to me that there would be a product out there that would do that. It made perfect sense because my training program is tailored specifically for me. So having that nutrition product for me is brilliant! Infinit has been a huge game changer for me. I can honestly say, I can recover better and I can get through workouts more. I usually can’t eat after a race or workout, but with Infinit, after a workout, I get the right amount of hydration and salt back into my body, which has enabled my recovery time to be shorter.
If you could talk to your younger self, what would you say?
I would tell myself to enjoy all the highs and lows that come with sports. As low as those lows seem and as much as they suck, such as injury or not making a team, they happen for a reason. Before Beijing, when I got injured, it was an injury you weren’t supposed to come back and compete from. Luckily, I was able to cross train and had great physical therapists to help me get back. The injury was just my body’s way of telling me I need a break and to slow it down. It was telling me it couldn’t handle the load I was putting on it. Because every year we need to add a bit more and my body just couldn’t handle it. In hindsight, looking back now I was fine, however, in that moment, I was thinking it was the end of my career. But it had to happen. It gave my body the break it needed. Going forward, I know now how important it is to take care of my body and give it the rest and recovery time it needs.
What advice would you give injured athletes out there?
There is an end to injury’s, it won’t be forever. Be patient with your body if it’s telling you it needs a break. Sometimes I get so anxious to get through it and get it over with, but I know now that my body needs the rest. Trust the people in your circle. Trust your coaches, doctors, therapists, etc. Don’t try and get back into it too soon because it could end up being a bigger injury than it initially was which could be worse.
What kind of advice would you have for young athletes just starting out?
There will be bumps in the road and you have to navigate your way through it. You may not be the best every single day. It’s going to happen because you’re human. We have to have highs and lows in our career to better ourselves. Trust the process and not rush to get to the end goal as fast as you can. It’s taken me 10 years to get where I am today. Trust and enjoy the process no matter how long that process may seem in the moment.