Samantha Auty proudly sponsored by Fencing Imports Australia

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Training Overseas

Hi All,

I have had quite a few requests for some posts on many different topics so I will try to address them in a few different posts. This post is about training overseas alone, as opposed to being part of a training tour. I like participating in training tours as part of a team because it is so easy to relax after training and to incorporate socialising into your down time. Travelling alone as an athlete means that you have a lot of time outside of training and not a lot of people to share it with. However, I love the opportunity this gives me to meet new people, relax in my own time, as well as giving me great flexibility as to where and when I can train.

Turning up to a club to train overseas is like showing up at a dinner party as the uninvited guest. You have to have a contact for where you are going. Your first international tours as part of a team are a great way to make these contacts. Speak to fencers from other countries and find out where they train, some may invite you to come and train with them in the future and some cases the coaches will invite you, regardless you have to meet your contact beforehand to be welcome to training with them overseas.

Additionally, there may be some more experienced fencers where you train at home who have trained somewhere overseas successfully, they may be more than happy to help you train in the same place and can act as your contact for the club or centre you want to train at. This is how I started training in Rome, a few Australian fencers had trained there before and the coach with them offered to be my contact to organise training there. For me it was perfect! Rome is very central to the World Cup competitions held in Europe in Feb/March and the training is fantastic!

This leads me to my next point, try and pick a time to train which gives you a lot of opportunity to compete as well. As I mentioned I can pick up 4 weeks of training in between 3-4 World Cup competitions in Feb/ March, which is excellent value for money whilst being in Europe. Regardless of your level (Cadet, Junior, Senior) you will be able to find competitions to compete in, particularly as regional European and satellite competitions are very strong and a good starting point for Australians wishing to compete overseas.

Once you have a time and place it is all about the training and putting in the hard work to get the benefits of training overseas!

  • Know some of the language. If you are training in a country where the official language is not English at least know how to say hi, how are you, thank you, and bye. This is all about being polite!
  • Bring a positive mind set to training. I CANNOT EMPHASISE THIS ENOUGH! You maybe training in a competitive environment with some of the top fencers in the world. Initially you may really struggle at training either because you are being beaten a lot or feel out of place. If you have a positive mind set you can turn this into a positive learning experience ad be ready to bring what you have learnt back home. Being upset or being an ass hole at training doesn't make the people you are training with want to help you. A smile goes a long way.
  • Be physically prepared. Sure in Australia the fencing training or bouting partners may not be as good but you have absolutely no excuse to not be fit enough for the training overseas. If you are training in the middle of a competition season then the fencers you are training with have done a huge amount of physical preparation in pre-season or early on in the season. You should have the same amount of physical preparation.
  • Bring something to fill in the time. THIS IS THE SECOND THING THAT I CANNOT EMPHASISE ENOUGH! You can't train or sleep all day. If you are travelling alone there is a lot of down time in between training sessions and on rest days. At home we might be working or studying as well but overseas this time needs to be filled. I am lucky that I am training in Rome which has a never ending amount of ancient ruins and beautiful buildings and architecture to explore, however, I am on a tight budget and sometimes I need to rest and relax. This is why thanks to an awesome friend at home I have brought a 32GB Micro SD card and 64GB USB of TV shows and movies. I never get a chance to watch TV or movies at home so I use my down time in between training as a way to catch up on these.
I guess that travelling and training by yourself can seem a bit daunting and lonely. But last year and this year I have really enjoyed training in Rome. The girls here have been incredibly nice and the coaching I have received has given me things to work on for a whole year of training. Most importantly, this is the one time of the year where I get to relax and focus purely on training and competing, and my rest time is actually rest time (I am currently watching Hell on Wheels and Suits).

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Hi All!

I arrived in Rome last night after flying out of Melbourne via Dubai. I am just going to put it out there that I love flying on long journeys. This is not because I am crazy but because I spend so much time organizing my trip and being busy that when I get on the plane and someone is making sit still for 16 hours I enjoy it. For me it is basically a day where I get to eat, watch movies, nap and go shopping (during stopovers). However, I understand that flying is not a comfortable experience for everyone so here are some tips for flying as an athlete:

  • Always bring a bottle of water (IL or larger). You can spend your entire flight asking the hostess for a little cup of water every minute or you can simply bring your own. CAUTION: You can not bring water past the security gate, so I suggest bringing an empty bottle and filling it up at a drink tap afterwards. This is why I disliked Dubai as a stopover, there was nowhere to fill up after security checks.

  • Wear compression. Always wear them for long flights, last year I didn't on the way back and my ankles swelled enormously. In addition to this if you are training beforehand you are at a greater risk of DVT (I trained 6 hours before my flight because it was at 3am).

  • Bring ear plugs and a travel pillow (one of the ones that fits around your neck). You may think you can sleep anywhere until you get on a plane with a screaming baby and you wake up with a crick in your neck. These two items make sleeping infinitely easier and more comfortable.

  • Bring snacks. Most airlines provide snacks as well as two meals for long (14hr) flights, however you may not like the food or as you train a lot require more to keep you going than the average person. Bringing snacks to keep you going will help. CAUTION: don't bring too many, customs generally doesn't like people trying to bring in a bag load of snacks, plus throwing it away it wasteful.

  • Plan you way to and from the airport. Unlike team tours where often a bus is organised you have to do this yourself if you are travelling alone. Often in another country you will not have immediate access to WiFi and will have to get to and find your hotel (sometimes at night). Taxis are easy but sometimes this isn't financially viable, so if you are travelling by yourself know where to get a train/ bus, how much it costs and a map of the area your hotel is in. It is better to be prepared than to have to fork out more money for a taxi or rely on others to help you. Plus if you know how much it will cost you, you can get that money ready at the airport.

I hope this helps and makes flying a little bit easier :) In my next post I will write more on training overseas and preparing for that.


Hi All,

I am writing this blog whilst I am overseas training and competing in Europe so that others can gain idea of what travelling and competing at an elite world level entails. I hope that as a fencer stepping up to compete at World Cup competitions I can help others to better understand what fencing around the world and travelling alone to these competitions is like.

If you want me to write more on a particular aspect of travelling and competing overseas please PM me. I want those reading this to get as much out of it as possible rather than me blabbing on about unhelpful topics.

Enjoy :)

Sam Auty