My Story

I began my career in track & field running up and down the hallways of Lakeridge Elementary School. I have always been a late developer and I enjoyed excelling at something off the bat for the first time. One of my 4×100 relay teams set a record at the Knights of Columbus Indoor games and the feeling of adrenaline and butterflies running in the Field House packed with spectators ignited something within me. I decided to join the Saskatoon Track & Field Club as I had fallen in love with the sport. 

I continued running both club and high school track over the next few years. In grade 10 (after having a major growth spurt and no longer being the smallest person in my class) a had a breakthrough and started running times that took notice. However, little did I know this would also be the start of my long-term struggle dealing with RED-S. For those who don’t know, RED-S stands for Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport. Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport is the result of insufficient caloric intake and/or excessive energy expenditure. The consequences of this low-energy condition can alter many physiological systems, including metabolism, menstrual function, bone health, immunity, psychological health, and more. Because of my success, I got moved up to train with the university group doing university-level workouts that my body couldn’t quite handle at the time. In addition, I have never been the leanest person on the track and dealt with pressure to lose weight to improve my performance. I was told if I lost X amount of weight or went off certain medications I would run faster. As a kid who just wanted to run faster, I took this to heart and started to feel bad about my body composition. My long road of injuries started shortly after. Things weren’t all gloomy as I was able to make my first national team in the 400mH, win my first national title in the 100mH, and medal in the Canada Summer Games as a 16-year-old. I represented Canada for the first time at the World Youth Championships in Bressanone. This experience was my first time travelling overseas, opened my eyes to the opportunities available in our sport, and further ignited that fire of passion I had for the sport.  I was so excited to go into my grade twelve year running off the momentum I had going the previous year. The year started off great until I encountered my first major setback in the sport. Going into the high school track season I started encountering severe foot pain. However, I saw multiple professionals that could not determine what was wrong and continued to clear me to keep running despite the pain. Little did I know, I ran nine races in two days at high school cities followed by thirteen races in two days at high school provincials on three stress fractures. I still remember the pain vividly to this day and crying in the middle of the night stepping down on my foot in between race days, but I guess willpower can get you through some pretty crazy things.

After graduating high school, I wanted a fresh start somewhere new, so I accepted a scholarship to Rice University in Houston, Texas. I thought I was fully healed after taking the summer off track but after a few fun months of university life, the pain slowly started to creep back and the joint in my ankle was unable to move properly. Since the stress fractures I had previously suffered from were undiagnosed for so long, my body tried to heal itself by forming large calcification deposits on my navicular bone compromising the joint. As a result, I had to have surgery to remove the deposits. Being away from home for the first time, having surgery, and dealing with some other major illnesses, I got quite down on myself. I was unhappy and decided to move back home after the school year was completed. I ended up taking a year off track and did some travelling as I was lost on what I wanted to do with my life. I dealt with some complications recovering from my surgery and didn’t really have a training group so I wasn’t eager to return to track. 

Due to my body image struggles, whenever I wasn’t training I would not eat. I already wasn’t eating enough to properly fuel my training, but things got a lot worse when I wasn’t training. During my time off I lost around 25-30 pounds, largely muscle. That made things REAL hard when I decided to return to track. For reference, I currently have a bench press PB of 175lb and can lift 155lb pretty easily on a given day. At the time, I could not lift just the bar which weighs 45 lbs. I use this example because I still remember how defeated I felt at this moment. It is so important to keep up with proper nutrition when you are injured because your body needs fuel not only to recover but just to maintain its composition. Looking back, more educated, I don’t understand how I didn’t know better, but I know it was the comments about my weight I had received that were skewing my judgement. Working with a dietician if you are unsure of your needs is highly recommended because returning to track running times slower than you did in high school is NOT fun. To this day, I still struggle sometimes comparing my body to others I compete against who are super lean with six-pack abs but I need to constantly remind myself that food is fuel and essential for training. Being healthy is the answer to running fast. 

Returning to track was difficult but I still loved the sport so kept on running and building myself back up. These years were difficult and I was down on myself more than I like to admit. I focused too much on what I couldn’t do, how slow I was running, and what I was missing out on that it sucked the happiness out of everything else. Eventually, things slowly started to improve and I was able to reach a few milestones including winning my first Usport championship and making a couple of U23/university-level national teams. Throughout these few years, however, due to my RED-S, every time I would have an ounce of success, I would somehow be knocked back down with injuries and illness. An opportunity arose to go train at the Athletics Canada East hub in Toronto so I thought I would give that a chance. It was in Toronto that I got to work with Jen Sygo, a dietician who researches and helped develop the term RED-S. Working with Jen, I was finally diagnosed with RED-S, which she estimates I had suffered for approximately 8 years. One of the main reasons it went unnoticed for so long is because RED-S is more common in distance runners and is a term rarely associated with speed and power athletes such as myself. I started on my recovery but because I had dug myself into such a deep hole, it felt as though I would never run fast again. I was also dealing with another injury that involved sharp shooting pains through my foot to the point I couldn’t even walk. I asked for crutches from the physio I was working with because I couldn’t function with the pain and I was denied them at first because I had “nothing wrong” with my foot. It was at this point I was almost ready to give up on the sport because I was unhappy living in Toronto and I felt as though no one believed in me enough to help solve my foot problem. 

After moving home, I decided to give track one last chance, as my current coach Jason Reindl moved back home and started coaching with the university. Deep down I knew I couldn’t quit on such a low note and I truly believed I had the potential for something more. During my first year working with Jason, I took things really slowly, going back to the basics of relearning how to run/ move, and most workouts consisted of some sort of walk/jog. What I did differently with this recovery is that I started to focus on things that made me happy rather than focusing on the negatives. I started spending more time with friends and family and even started up my own custom cake/ cookie business, Miche’s Niche. Over the next couple of years, I kept this focus and continued to improve every year. By 2020, I was able to work my way to multiple personal bests and I was able to win two more Usport championships with records and accolades. 

2020 was also the start of the last major setback I encountered as an athlete. My indoor season was going great and I was feeling confident about having a shot at the 2020 Olympic team. Then Covid struck, and like many athletes, did not have a place to train and had to take significant time off training other than a few living room workouts. Luckily, the Olympics were postponed a year but unluckily for me when starting up training for the 2021 season, I suffered a major ankle sprain that took me out of training for over six months. Because I had injured this ankle on several occasions in the past, the scar tissue made my ankle extremely immobile and I was unable to train once the ligaments were healed. After a couple of months of training, I gave it my best shot to still make the Olympic team. I was able to win my first senior-level national championship but fell just short of making the team.  I was more motivated than ever to come back stronger the next year. I worked hard throughout the fall and managed to make my first senior-level national team, the World Indoor Championships in Serbia. Being able to make another national team after so many years made it worth it and reaffirmed my choice to keep going. I continued this momentum outdoors making three more national teams. I ended up making the semi-final at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene and the finals at both the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as well as the NACAC championships in the Bahamas. Because I didn’t give in to my fears and doubts, I am now running times I wouldn’t have dreamed possible when I was younger. My story continues to be written today. Even though my story is unique to me, the things I struggled with are not and much too common in the sporting community. I share this so others can learn from my experiences and mistakes and maybe even inspire someone to keep going through the lows of sport. As long as you keep believing in yourself, you can overcome even more than you think possible. 



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