Rachel Hickey Speaks: Senior Year Journal 1.0

I have always been a lower-mileage athlete. At the peak of cross country season, my maximum weekly mileage was a mere 42.5 miles. For pre-season track training, I never come close to that number. After taking a 1 ½-2-week break following the conclusion of my cross country season, I launch into my annual routine to prepare for track season. Rather than focusing solely on mileage like many distance-based athletes do, I hone in on developing my strength and speed through agility work, cross training, and free weight lifting.

Few people realize that I have been a competitive swimmer for 9 years now and I spend my winters in the pool more than on the track. About two to three nights per week, I make an appearance at my local club swim practices and spend various weekends competing with the team. I always continue to compete hard in swimming right up until the beginning of my track season, which typically is not until March.

However, this does not mean that I never run in the off-seasons. I typically never exceed 7-8 miles on my long runs in the winter, and I usually do one per week. Otherwise, I spend a lot of time sprinting and have even made efforts to drive to Westwood Fitness Center in Sterling, Illinois to complete an intense 200m-800m repeat workout with my 4x400m relay teammates. 

With break ending and school beginning again, I had to adjust back into a more consistent routine and balance my schoolwork, as well as my training. This week looked a little something like this:

Pre-Season Training: Week of 1/7 - 1/14:

Sunday January 7, 2018:

I usually allot Sundays as my weekly "off-day", however, this week I wanted to ensure I put a few miles under my belt. 4.88 treadmill ("dreadmill") miles at a steady 7:11 pace; there was a little soreness in my legs considering it had been a while since I logged over 4 continuous miles at that pace. I followed my run with my typical core routine and some hip exercises that help with my stability. Before bed I rolled out for 20 minutes to combat soreness the next day.

Monday January 8, 2018:

Today I met with my teammates and speed trainer for workouts:

·         1-mile warmup @ 7:30 pace

·         Agility drills to help with quickness and footwork

·         Speed box jumps: 3x10 with box height of 30"

·         Lunges with weight and balance: 25 each leg

·         Bench at 75% max: 2x15

Felt decently strong today; no apparent soreness from run yesterday. Made a banana-peanut butter-chocolate protein smoothie for recovery. Daily core workouts before calling it a day.

Tuesday January 9, 2018:

Second semester of senior year started today! With a new semester means new assignments: went home to spend a solid two hours on homework before going to swim practice from 6:45-8:15 P.M. 4,200 yards with emphasis on backstroke and bilateral breathing/distance swimming. I was fresh for swim practice, which is rare, so I felt very smooth and strong. Daily core work topped off the day.

Wednesday January 10, 2018:

Coach deemed today as our "recovery day", which typically means the harder workout comes the next time we meet. Today's practice looked like this:

·         1 ½ "build" warmup: 7:30à6:30, decreasing per ½ mile

·         Agility drills

·         Hip mobility/strengthening exercises

We were taken off guard by the short workout, but we welcomed the slight break coach had given us mid-week. Went home and rounded out my day with core.

Thursday January 11, 2018:

Managed to get my first "double-day" in this week, ran a quick 2-mile progression run before swim; starting @ 7:30 pace and finishing @ 6:15 pace. It felt extremely smooth and comfortable, even at the faster paces. I used this to get my blood pumping prior to swim. After the run, I had some time to spare so I did a quick lift session: 3x10 bench @ 80% of max, 3x10 curls.

Went to swim from 6:45-8:15 P.M. 3,500 yards with emphasis on speed and starts and turns. Paid special attention to going into turns and breakouts with slight critiques from my coach.

Ended the day with a quick 20-minute foam roll session and core.

Friday January 12, 2018:

Another "mileage" day for me and my teammate. Ran 5.15 treadmill miles at an average pace of 7:08 (final mile split: 6:42) followed by a 7-minute cool down. I felt very smooth and comfortable all the way through. Had another lift session: 3x12 bar curls and 3x12 dips. Ended the session with core and some dynamic stretches.

Saturday January 13, 2018:

Another meeting with trainer today. We honestly weren't sure what to expect after our "easy day" last time we met. Our final workout of the week was as follows:

·         1-mile warmup @ 7:30 pace

·         10x30 second accelerations @ 5-minute mile pace

·         Agility drills

·         Speed box jumps: 3x10 with box height of 30"; second set with 4lb. med-ball

·         Lunges with weight and balance: 20 each leg

·         Bench @ 70% of max: 2x15

Felt decent during the accelerations, but I also felt sort of tired and I knew that I needed a rest day soon (Sunday). I hadn't had a true rest day in almost a week and a half which is odd for me since I have always been instructed to take rest days very seriously; give your body time to heal. Legs had a lot of lactic acid built up in them, so I went home a stretched a good deal. Ended day with core.

As my mind and body readjust to the daily routine, my workouts will gradually become more consistent and increasingly harder. My coaches understand that there is no need to peak until May, and they work together to ensure my training reflects that. With official practices beginning on Monday the 22nd, I will better be able to balance both swimming workouts and track workouts. As a result, I will see more "double days" per week. Overall, I have been extremely pleased with my pre-season training this year. I am beginning to see positive results sooner and I am excited to see how I perform at my first race in March. Until then, the grind continues.