Unbeknownst to many people, being an elite distance runner requires much more time and energy than that which is physically spent running. Similarly, the time and effort put into coaching, specifically coaching youth athletes, extends far beyond the hour and a half practice window. A breakdown of a typical day for NE Distance Elite Team member Dylan Hassett shows just how much dedication and commitment it takes to be both a professional runner and a coach of a middle school cross country team.
8:00 AM – Wake up, take off my plantar fasciitis boots and shuffle on out of bed. Make some coffee and oatmeal, two staples of my diet that I certainly never get tired of (oatmeal is breakfast food, snack food, and dessert!). Heat up my heating pad (makeshift heating pad…a sock full of dried rice), and heat up my achilles while I eat to get it warmed up for my run.
8:45 AM – Get dressed and tape up any small aches and pains that I might currently be nursing, using this great new taping technique that our chiropractor Dr. Lanni showed me. I’ve been crushing the Rock Tape.
9:00 AM – Katie, Henry, and Aaron come meet Brian, Obsie, and I on Smith Street, and we run 60 minutes of any one of our series of loops around the city. It’s great to be able to run right from the house! Recovery runs are usually pretty easy and it’s nice to have a group to enjoy a recovery run with.
10:00 AM – I’ll stretch and do core exercises in the living room while my body is warmed up. This is something I have really committed myself to since coming back from injury this year. I’ve decided to commit to daily maintenance if I want to count on my body being healthy. This includes lots of ankle mobility exercises, calf stretching, rolling on the lacrosse ball, cracking joints and all! Core is usually a combination of hip exercises, planks, abs, v-sits, etc. Then follow it all up with a cold shower.
11:15 AM – I head to Performance Physical Therapy to say hi to my new friend Kevin. He finds the knots in my calves and then dry needles them. Once the needle is in the muscle, he uses a machine to deliver an electric current that makes my muscle contract and relax. Considering my fear of needles, it’s not my favorite thing in the world. But after spending a good portion of the year with an injured foot and achilles, I’ll gladly do whatever it takes to stay healthy. Needling is followed by some soft tissue work, as well as some strengthening and activation exercises, specifically for my hips and glutes. Apparently those muscles like to fall asleep and leave all the work for my calves and feet. Not cool.
1:00 PM – Back home, I’ll ice after therapy since usually my calves are pretty sore after some dry needling. Meanwhile, I’ll do some work to prepare for coaching my middle school practice that afternoon. I’ll plan a workout that is inclusive for all of my athletes, since they have a wide range of abilities at their age and level. I’ll also send out some emails to parents to try and keep them in the loop about what we’re doing as well as the upcoming meets that happen on most Fridays. Keeping track of 25 students can seem overwhelming so I try to keep tabs on them and make sure everyone is on the same page by staying in touch with their parents.
2:15 PM – I pack my own running clothes, a water cooler, cones, and any other supplies I need for the practice and head to Nathan Bishop Middle School where I (try to) manage the controlled chaos of middle school cross country practice. I’ll set up for practice beforehand. Once the kiddos show up, your attention is constantly being demanded elsewhere (middle schoolers are FULL of energy and questions!).
3:00 PM – Practice begins! Practices are typically some sort of combination of a warm-up jog, drills, a workout, a game that involves running, and stretching. The kids work really hard for me, and I’m always impressed with their enthusiasm for a sport that can seem so tedious at their age. So I really try to combine training and fitness with fun and games to get a healthy balance of exercise and fun. Middle school students are young, so it’s really important to encourage their love for running, sport, and competitive spirit. Work hard, play hard, right?
4:30 PM – Practice is over. The kids walk or catch the bus home, and I get to do my double right from the school. I’ll change and then run 30 minutes along the Boulevard. I’ll bring my iPod and run alone, which I personally love. I really enjoy solo runs. After running, on my way home, I might stop to grab some groceries for dinner or a bag of ice for icing.
6:00 PM – I get home and Brian, Obsie, and I cook our dinners together and eat and talk about our middle school practices. The kids never fail to send us home with some cute stories to chat about. Once in awhile, we’ll cook a family dinner. If that happens it’s probably a red meat dinner, since Kurt has told us to eat more meat (sorry, cows).
7:00 PM – Time for a little more work! I’m fortunate enough to work remotely for Team Prep USA, a high school running camp and client program based out of Crested Butte, Colorado. The owner, Trent Sanderson, trains elite high school athletes all over the country. I get to help him out remotely with some of his training, as well as some supplemental projects. I’ve spent several summers working at Team Prep USA camps, and now I’m fortunate to be a part of the program throughout the year while I am in Rhode Island pursuing my own running goals. Another great aspect is that this is typically work I can do on my own time and according to my own schedule.
8:30 PM – Recovery/relaxation time! This is usually when Obsie and I break out the ice bucket! We fill a bucket with ice water and take turns icing for 10 minutes at a time (another recovery protocol I’ve committed to this year). Usually we’ll do this while we watch a movie or something on TV. We sometimes are able to convince Brian to watch a chick flick. This includes The Notebook, which I think was secretly a hit.
10:15 PM – Time to get ready for bed. I’ve been running a lot of miles since coming here (82-87 per week currently), including new challenging workouts, so I’ve been pretty tired. If my schedule allows it, I can sleep 10 hours a night! I can tell my body needs it. The goal is to wake up feeling recovered and ready to do it all over again tomorrow. Any job that requires you to sleep a little extra is the best kind of job!