A day in the life of Jo Brigden-Jones


Jo Brigden-Jones
Photograph:Chris Benny
Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Jo Brigden-Jones is one of our 2012 sprint Olympians. Recovering from a shoulder injury sustained earlier this year, Jo is back on track to compete at selection next year, and she is a master of time management!

“Most people know me as an Olympic kayaker who spends most of the day training. I am also a registered nurse and studying to become a paramedic, so I feel that I sometimes live a double life. Kayaking is my priority, but I also think it’s really important to have other interests in life like having a job, studying or even a hobby. It keeps my mind active and also allows me to switch off from kayaking and have a balance. When I go to work, most of the patients don’t know I’m a kayaker. Some patients ask if I’m sporty, so I just tell then I go to the gym or used to play basketball. When I’m at work, being a nurse is my priority. It can often be difficult balancing training and work. I have to make sure I get enough rest and eat properly. It is great as I have to be very organised and it definitely improves my time management skills.

One of my busiest days is when I have 3 training sessions plus a full shift at work. Here is how my day pans out…

I wake up at 6am and get down to the kayak shed for a 6.30am paddle session. Before I get on the water I do a few shoulder exercises with a theraband to switch on and wake up the muscles in my shoulders. I get on the water with my fellow NSWIS squad members and start the session. At the moment I am still getting back into paddling after having close to 5 months off the water following shoulder surgery in April. I have been back paddling for about a month now and haven’t fallen in yet…stoked!! I am doing sessions of 6-8km broken down into smaller efforts. I am loving being back on the water but I find it very taxing on my body as my muscles are still getting used to paddling again. Once I have completed my session it’s all about recovery and I eat my breakfast that I have packed to get some energy back.

It’s then a short drive to the gym where I do a session for 1.5 hours. My gym session starts with some more shoulder exercises aimed to get my range of motion back and build up the strength in my shoulder. I then start my main set of exercises and after 5 minutes I’m sweating and out of breath. Gym hurts a lot but it’s a great way to build up strength in my arms, legs, back and core that can then be transferred to the water. After gym, I have a protein shake and I’m in the car driving back home. A quick stop off for a take away coffee on the way home is always an essential part of my day!

I then chill out at home for a bit…ok maybe I have a power nap. When I am feeling awake enough I convince myself to do just a bit of uni work.  I study via distance education, which is really handy and means I can complete my work anywhere in the world. The subject this semester is pharmacology, which is the study of medications/drugs that are used in the prehospital care setting. This subject has been really intense with 100+ slide lectures, a test and a case study to complete every week. Not to mention the 120 drugs I have to know EVERYTHING about! I try to do 1-2 hours of uni most days. After I can’t concentrate on uni any longer I get ready to go for a run. I run from home to around Pittwater, along the water-front which provides great views and some fresh air. I usually run for about 30-40 minutes.

I then prepare my lunch and dinner…multitasking, always a great skill! I eat my lunch at home and pack away some dinner for when I am at work. When I work I have to be really prepared with my food to make sure I eat the right foods throughout the day and enough of them. I plan ahead which makes it easier for when I get really busy.

It’s then time to get ready for work and I head off before 2pm for an 8 hour shift at the hospital. As soon as I get to work I completely forget about my athlete life and switch into nurse mode. I mostly work on the surgical ward so I look after patients who have just had surgery. It’s a small but busy private hospital and I love the challenge of managing a wide range of patients and I get to see some pretty cool stuff...yup, I’m that person who finds blood and guts interesting! We get anything from hip replacements to children who have had their tonsils removed, to abdominal and other orthopaedic surgery. Post-operative care includes making sure the patient recovers from surgery as smoothly as possible, monitoring their vital signs, looking out for possible complications and administering medications. An 8 hour shift can go by very quickly, especially when it’s busy. I finish work just after 10pm and go straight home. I try to get to bed as quickly as possible as some mornings I have to be up again at 6am for another paddling session.

So that is my busy work and training day. I work part time so thankfully I don’t have to do this every day. On the days I don’t work, I am still busy with training plus anything from physio or a massage, to organising my life, emails/phone calls, creating recipes and cooking yum food, drinking coffee and more uni!”

You can find out more about Jo online -

Website: www.jobrigdenjones.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jobrigdenjonesathlete
Twitter: @JoBrigdenJones