Photo credit: BRANDON OOI


Brandon Ooi, 25, is a Singaporean National Team Kayaker who has been training and competing for the past 11 years. Regardless of winning or losing, he believes that perseverance and hard work  are enough to inspire people to push through hardships and chase their dreams. He shares what a typical day training looks like for him.

5:55 am

I wake up to my third alarm and brush my teeth while trying to get my wife out of bed. I toast some bread to eat with tuna or make a large protein smoothie to start my day with a high caloric meal.

7:00 am

After reaching my training venue, I warm up in my boat in preparation for the tough training ahead. I have to physically and mentally prepare myself for the pain that is to come. Much concentration is also required to execute the training and reach the goals I have set out for myself.

One of my biggest weaknesses is that I always use others as a benchmark to gauge how well I’m doing, rather than focusing on my own progress. Although I feel privileged to be the only person on my team training full-time, I also feel a lot of pressure to be the best during training.

It’s always a struggle for me as I try to manage my competitive spirit as well as my composure to do well during the training.

10:00 am

Exhausted, I wipe down my boat and do some stretching unless there’s a gym session scheduled. This is when the body wants to stop, but if there’s additional training, the brain has to keep pushing on to make sure that the training is maximised for the session.

Again, it’s really tough to force your body through the pain, and, more often than not, there’s always the thought of giving in to the aches. Of course, there’s a fine line between training hard and overdoing it, so I really have to keep on evaluating how I’m feeling. That’s how I push my limits without injuring myself.

11:00 am

I head home. Thankfully, the traffic isn’t bad at this time of the day. I usually grab some food on the way back as a post-training lunch. I usually need about 3,500 calories per day, which is a lot more than the average person because my goal is to continue gaining muscle mass for the race. I actually find it really tiring to eat so much, but it must be done nonetheless.

2:00 pm

Usually, I take a nap around this hour to relax and reset my body for the next session. I try to nap for about an hour or two to cumulatively have about nine hours of sleep per day.

I think one of the most underrated things about being an athlete is having to plan out your day such that you get sufficient sleep and food besides training. Getting enough food and sleep is essential for optimal training.

These factors aren’t just important prior to the race. Throughout the training season, sleeping and eating must be planned, down to the hour. This always adds some stress to my life because there’s very little flexibility to do the things that I enjoy during the day.

4:00 pm

I wake up from my nap and head off to training again. It takes a little longer to reach than in the morning because of the traffic. However, it’s not too bad.

5:00 pm

It’s my second session out on the water. I don’t really like paddling as much in the afternoon because there’s more people out, as well as the hot and windy conditions. Again, physical and mental preparation are  key steps in getting a good session. Sometimes, it doesn’t go as planned and I have to put in extra sets to correct what went wrong or could be done better.

I love paddling because it’s a racing sport with so many components. That creates many challenges, which then require innovation and a high degree of intrinsic evaluation. I always want to figure out what I did right or wrong during training and how I can improve. But I’ve also had to accept that some days just aren’t as good and sometimes there is no explanation for it.

7:30 pm

I head back home for dinner. Japanese donburi is my food of choice because it’s easy to eat and delivers quickly. On days where I decide to cook, I would have to wash the dishes before I can rest for the day.

9:00 pm

I wind down by playing “Heroes of the Storm”, a computer game, to unwind myself after a busy day of training. This is the most precious of the day because it’s a short window  where I am able to spend time with my friends and family.

10:00 pm

Sleep time! Most of the time, I fall asleep quite fast, but sometimes I have to listen to music in  order to fall asleep. I am musically trained, so I appreciate most classical pieces. I’m currently obsessed with Beethoven’s “Pathetique” piano sonata, so that would be my song of choice to calm down and prepare for another day of training tomorrow.

This article was published on Sep 10, 2021

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