Kassidy Greulich
Kassidy Greulich has been training to compete in Ironman competitions since she was eight years old. Kassidy Greulich

Oct. 5, 2021

Nursing student balances school with training for Ironman competition

Kassidy Greulich hopes to fulfill her goals in both academics and athletics

At 6 a.m., one can probably find most University of Calgary students just hitting snooze on their alarm clocks, but Kassidy Greulich is already at the Crowfoot YMCA getting in her first session of cardio.

On top of being a fourth-year undergraduate student in the Faculty of Nursing, Greulich is a triathlete training to compete in the grueling Ironman triathlon.

Greulich says she has been training as a triathlete since she was eight, after a cross-country racing rival started doing triathlons.

“Having a competitive instinct, I wanted to do them as well and I wanted race her,” she says. “It was second nature. I’ve been running since I was young, and I fell in love with swimming and biking, so it kept me busy and fed my competitive drive.”

That training keeps her busy to this day. Greulich says her typical day includes a cardio session from 6 to 8 a.m., an online lecture from 9 a.m. to noon, a weight session for an hour, a class from 2 to 5 p.m. and then a second cardio session or studying.

Despite this busy schedule, Greulich says she has been able to balance school and training because she has been training for so long, it’s normal to just work constantly and fill in the gaps in her day.

“I also work best under pressure, so I think it works really well,” she says.

As a fourth-year nursing student, Greulich says she is hoping to gain as many skills and experiences as she can.

Kassidy Greulich

Greulich says the key is prioritization, making sure she understands the content for school while also ensuring she gets her training in.

It’s all about willpower, she says; in times of high stress, the tendency is to focus on school exclusively, and to let the athletics slip.

School and athletics work hand-in-hand

“I try hard to make sure school and athletics are equals because, aligned with my goals, I do need to train,” Greulich says. “Under no circumstances can I just let it go.

It sucks sometimes, but the reward is phenomenal.

Greulich says school and athletics can often work hand-in-hand, as athletics can serve as a distraction from the stress of school, and school can serve as a distraction from the stress of athletics.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added a new wrinkle to Greulich’s routine. She says taking classes online has made training a bit more convenient because she can just go from home to training and back.

However, the pandemic has also prevented her from competing in an Ironman competition for the past two years, as the competition in Quebec has been cancelled in both 2020 and 2021. Greulich’s father set up a makeshift course for the two to compete on near their hometown of Cambridge, Ont., but she is hoping to get into a competition with others within the next year.

“I will definitely do one this year, even if it kills me,” says Greulich.

Ultimately, Greulich would like to qualify for the Ironman World Championships, where the top competitors from each age group and region compete.

While the goals of her athletic pursuits are clear, Greulich says she is still considering what she wants to do in the nursing field and is trying to explore as many options as she can in fourth year. She says rural nursing has caught her attention.

“Plans can change, but I’ll just be happy to work and gain as many skills as I can,” she says.