How to Perform at Your Best According to Pro Runners
Being a professional athlete can seem like a dream world — it’s like achieving all your childhood goals and becoming the Michael Jordan you always believed you could be. But in order for athletes to perform at insane levels, they work insanely hard and they typically have a routine that allows them to perform at those levels come game day or race day.
Although recovery is trending in the everyday world (nap rooms, CBD relaxation oils, more handheld massagers), it’s been a crucial necessity for athletes for years. Sleep is the first line of defense, followed by eating right and exercising properly. Sound like something you’ve heard before? Aisha Praught Leer, a Jamaican Steeplechase Gold Medalist says, “It’s our job, so obviously we can afford to sleep.” While eight hours of sleep might not make you the best soccer player, runner or triathlete in the world, it will almost definitely help you perform better at your next match.
Each athlete has his or her own routine to prepare for an upcoming challenge, and after spending the day with three elite Under Armour athletes, we had the chance to hear what works for them.
Rachel Schneider, Pro Miler
Schneider had two big wins this year: silver at the Athletics World Cup in London and the Falmouth Road Mile. The middle-distance runner trains in Flagstaff and finished up her track season this year at the Long Island Mile in New York, taking second place. To keep performing at her peak, she does “a lot of mobility drills to enhance proper mechanics,” Schneider says. “I’ve had a lot of foot fractures, and doing proper mechanics has totally helped with injury prevention. It’s something we spend hours on every week and it’s super repetitive, but it’s so helpful.” In addition to mobility, foam rolling, Normatec and meditation are common practices. “I just started using the app called Headspace. Apparently, a lot of people are familiar with [it], and I’m a little late to the game,” Schneider says.
Aisha Praught Leer, Jamaican Steeplechase Gold Medalist
The Commonwealth Games Champion and Jamaican National Record holder trains in Boulder, Colorado and is extremely regimented. She eats the same thing for breakfast (and second breakfast) every day, logs many hours of sleep and runs at the same time every single day. In addition to all of that, she focuses on mobility for injury prevention and when race day is around the corner she adds another item to her schedule. “I also get a little pre-race anxiety,” Leer says. “In 2016, I got this meditation, it’s from 2003 and I listen to the same meditation, ten days leading into a competition: Paul McKenna’s ‘Confidence.’ It sounds a bit more hypnosis-bases, but I listen to it every night for at least a week before a big race. It’s brainwashed me for years into believing that I’m this confident superhero or something like that.”
Patrick Casey, Pro-Miler
Casey takes a slightly different approach to prep for race day. While he typically focuses on the same cross training, foam rolling and weights, he acknowledges that, “I have a hard time doing nothing. And that’s part of the job sometimes. So I play video games and I tell myself that’s cross-training,” Casey says. “I honestly think it helps my running because it’s a way where I can sit down and put my feet up and let my mind not think about running. I’ll get my friends in the headsets so I feel social and I don’t have to leave the house.” As for his favorite game currently? Call of Duty.
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