Interview with Glynis Sim, 2022 U Sports Cross-Country Champion
Last month I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with 24-year-old Glynis Sim, a UBC nursing student and rising track athlete who placed first for 1500m and 5000m in a few 2022 events. We chatted about some drastic changes in her athletic career, her training regime and what she looks forward to competing in the future. Glynis is very gracious and soft-spoken and provides some insightful glimpses on running, injuries and balance. Since this interview, Glynis Sim went on to win gold and was named Canadian Athlete of the Year at the 2022 U Sports Cross-Country Championships!
Okay Glynis, let’s start off by having you tell us what event you were competing in for Arizona State University (ASU) when you were fresh out of high school? It’s a bit unfamiliar for some of us runners.
Hi Waldo, thanks for having me on. I competed in steeple chase which is basically long-distance hurdles. It is a 3km race on the track with 4 hurdles and with one hurdle that has water on the other side. It’s a weird event that involves a lot of endurance, strength, and skill.
And so now you’re back in Vancouver studying nursing at UBC, as well as competing on the track team. Are you the only nursing student there? How are you able to balance such a physically demanding schedule in running and nursing shifts?
I am the only nursing student on the track team, although there is a nurse on the team. I try to get a lot of sleep, as much as possible since the shifts in my practicum are 8 hours. I have two times in which I run, one is usually post-shift around 8PM in which I run an easy 8km and I’ve also coordinated with my school to have a few days off in which I can get longer training sessions in. But I think the main focus in balancing between the two for me is to emphasize on the rest and sleeping.
Do you have any role models in running and athletics?
My old high school running coach who I worked with when I first started running at 14, my current coach and my roommate who works as a nurse. I look up to my coaches since they deal with a lot of athletes and a lot of trust is needed in my training. I’m not a fan of any celebrity runners- I am aware that some really cool runners exist but I really look up to people that I can interact and talk to, and who are down to earth.
You've had quite the resurgence and success when you changed events from steeple-chase to the 5000m run, what made you change into that specific event? Did you know you'd perform so well?
Yes so in ASU I actually had to go into early medical retirement and did not end up competing in steeplechase, so I finished my undergrad while still running and decided to compete in some different events back in Vancouver like the 800m, 1500m and 5000m, I’m also competing in some cross-country events as well. And no, I think I surprised myself at how well I did with my 5000m time in Portland (15:39.23 for first place in the 2022 Portland Twilight Event).
Are you okay with sharing a bit about how you were forced into medical retirement? How did you get through it physically and mentally?
Yes that’s okay, I can share a bit. When I entered ASU on an athletic scholarship, I had some major life adjustments: I was moving away from my little town Salmon Arm into the desert of Arizona, and I started training 6 days a week starting at 5:45 AM. I just want add, looking back at this I really value sleep now and I think I get more sleep now as a nursing student and athlete compared to when I was in ASU. Anyways, in high school I never trained this much and was new to weight training and I ended up developing a full tibial stress fracture which would sort of heal but every three months a stress reaction would re-occur. This lasted for about 1.5 years and by that time I was unexpectedly forced into medical retirement as the medical staff deemed that I was unable to perform.
This approach was so different to how I train in Canada and at UBC. Here I only have 2 mandatory training sessions per week and the rest of my training is largely determined by me and my coach. This gives me a lot of flexibility for school and most importantly to rest, as well as to plan my off days or have some fun group runs.
I have few technical questions some of our readers might want to ask a semi-professional runner: what's your weekly volume, pace, any elevation? Exercises?
Since I am really dictating my training schedule, I only have two mandatory practices. I usually incorporate a lot of variety between my weekly volume and pace. Some weeks I have three easy runs and then some weeks I will run 6 days a week. My mileage ranges around 30 to 65km but the majority of it would sit in the 50-65km range. I love that at UBC I have the option to run on a variety of surfaces on flats, hills, road and cement which includes elevation. I do some weight lifting with the team at times - things such as hack-squats, squats.
What is your relationship now with your health care practitioners? Who monitors your training schedule, and who helps you if you have any health concerns?
I do a lot of the monitoring myself, it’s a lot of my own responsibility. I do have a very good sports med doctor who takes some routine blood tests for my hormone levels, iron and ferratin and advises me if I need any imaging for an injury- I haven’t needed any imaging so far this season!
Are there any events you are looking forward to this year?
Yes there are a few cross country and U-Sports events I am looking towards and then the Canadian Nationals of course.
If you could go back in time and give the younger Glynis a piece of advice, what would it be?
Try to find things outside of running to enjoy, such as cycling or other sports. There is definitely a life outside of running!
You can learn more about Glynis Sim’s cross-country season here.