Racing to the Top

JP PalmerWhen she isn’t teaching and serving as director of the doctoral program, Associate Professor Julie ‘JP’ Palmer- Schuyler, Ph.D. is pushing her physical limits. This year, she completed her 17th Ironman, the GoPro World Championship, in Kona, Hawaii. Considered the most prestigious Ironman because athletes have to qualify to compete, the World Championship combines a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike race and marathon in one event.

Palmer-Schuyler said being an endurance athlete is time consuming, sometimes taking up as much as 25 hours per week. She said this has forced her to become fastidious about time management.

Cutting corners on workouts, she said, is simply not an option. “You have to keep fitness a priority every day and every week. Even skipping the easy workouts isn’t an attractive option.”

Neither is skipping even her smallest responsibilities at work. So, she has learned to multi-task. “I spend many hours on the bike trainer reading through doctoral student dissertation chapters, grading undergraduate papers and reading journal articles,” she said. “I also make a point to squeeze in swims and runs between meetings and classes.”

The key, she said, is balance.

“My priorities are: family first, career second and then training and events come third. This isn’t to say that I don’t sometimes shift things around, but I keep things in perspective and work to ensure that I balance my personal and professional commitments.”

A board member of the St. Louis Triathlon Club, Palmer-Schuyler spends some of her spare time mentoring newer and less experienced endurance athletes. She has also helped students in her classes at Webster University prepare for their own events.

“My introduction to the world of long-distance racing was facilitated by many who helped me along the way,” she said. “These accomplished athletes certainly could have ridden faster, but they chose to ride with me as a beginner, and that has shaped my desire to do the same for others. ”

In the classroom, her passion for endurance racing comes full-circle as she combines it with wellness projects. “In my undergraduate human resource management courses, my students are asked to identify an area in their life to focus on during the semester,” she explained. “They set goals for themselves, track their progress and share strategies for improvement. I’ve found this to be a great way to build a connection with my students and put course concepts into practice while we celebrate each other’s success.”

Check out the 2014 edition of Notabene for more stories from the Walker School.