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School of Medicine discoveries

October 19, 2015

Swim, Study, Bike, Study, Run: Fourth-year student Samone Franzese balances medical school and triathlon


For fourth-year student Samone Franzese, unwinding means intense training sessions two times a day to prepare for her next triathlon.

Medical students face long days of clinical rotations, long nights of studying and intense pressure to succeed. As a result, students seek activities outside of school that help them relax and decompress. For many students this means spending time with their families, reading a good book or volunteering in the community.

For fourth-year student Samone Franzese, however, unwinding means intense training sessions two times a day to prepare for her next triathlon — not most people’s idea of relaxing after a long day at work.

On a typical day Franzese starts off by heading to the pool to swim for an hour, then comes to campus for eight to ten hours, and then heads out for another hour or two of training at the track or on her bike.

This routine changes depending on her school schedule — a surgery rotation that required 70- to 80-hour work weeks limited her training to key track and bike workouts, and required more time management. She intentionally scheduled her pediatrics rotation during the summer to try to avoid getting sick.

This intense regimen has paid off — after strong performances in amateur races this summer Franzese will race in the elite field for the first time this fall.


After strong performances in amateur races this summer, fourth-year student Samone Franzese will race in the elite field for the first time this fall

A long-time runner, she was introduced to triathlon while recovering from an injury during her first year of medical school. “I was talking to a trainer who was helping me get back to running, and she suggested I join the triathlon team because there would be more variety in my training and a group to work with. That sounded great to me, so I joined and just fell in love with triathlon. And I’ve been doing it ever since.”

For Franzese, however, staying physically fit is more than just a pastime — it’s part of her job. A second lieutenant in the Army, she is attending medical school through a military scholarship that has given her the opportunity to go on rotations at military bases during summers and will require her to complete service time after she graduates.

Even among her peers in the armed forces Franzese’s ability in the triathlon is remarkable. She was selected to join the United States Military Endurance Sports Elite Triathlon team in November 2014, and went on  to win the Armed Forces Championship this June. “Being selected for the team vindicated a lot of the hard work I put in,” says Franzese.

Learn More

To learn more about how Samone balances medical school and triathlon, visit her blog at samonefranzese.com

Despite her success, new challenges lie ahead as she begins to enter elite races. Triathletes qualify to enter elite races only after proving themselves in amateur races, and the large difference in competitors’ abilities means new elite racers like Franzese, who are used to dominating their competition, may find themselves at the back of the pack.

Throughout all of her training Franzese has been surprised by the amount of support she has gotten from the medical school. “My classmates are always interested to hear about my races, and I think most people understand that you need to have a life outside of campus. I love getting away from academics for at least an hour a day to just be and think about whatever I want. Triathlon has become my therapy during medical school.”

By Jack Carmichael

Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU Medical Center
School of Medicine
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Updated: 04/29/2016