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Here we take a glimpse into the life of NE Distance Elite Team member, Rachel Schilkowsky, to see how she balances elite level running with a full-time job as an engineer.

6:00 am – The alarm goes off. I reach over and shove John a bit to make sure he’s awake too (he often sleeps through the alarm). After putting in my contacts and heading downstairs, I usually scarf down a bar (I HATE being hungry when I run) and pop in some Run Gum. By 6:15 am we’re dressed in our rabbit gear, have our Topo Athletic shoes¬†on, and are heading out the door for our first run of the day. To save time, we run directly from our house in Elmhurst instead of driving somewhere. We do an 8-mile loop where we go up the Woonasquatucket River Greenway into North Providence then down Smith Street / Rt. 44 back into Providence.

7:15 am – We get back home and begin the mad dash to get ready and back out the door in 30 minutes. While I hop in the shower, John gets the coffee started and rolls out. 10 minutes later he’s in the shower and I’m packing my bag for the day: planner, extra phone charger, clothes to lift in / run home in, my running backpack, lunch and snacks for the day (ideally I will have packed this in my nifty fit & fresh lunch box the night before). One of us usually spends 5 – 10 minutes frantically searching the house for something important – car keys, wallet, house keys, coffee mug – but by 7:45 am we are usually in the car pulling out of the driveway.

8:00 am – John drops me off in downtown Providence at the RIH Orthopaedic Foundation Test Facility where I work. He then hops back on I-95 to head to class at one of CCRI’s many campuses (he recently went back to school to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a Physical Therapist!). If it’s a busy day at the office, we’ll have clients arriving shortly after I get in. I spend the morning assisting in the bioskills lab or performing mechanical tests on a variety of medical devices.

12:00 pm – After our clients leave, I grab my gym bag and head out the door to lift during lunch. The Planet Fitness that I am a member of is conveniently located only 3/4 of a mile away from work. Usually I walk there, which takes about 12 minutes, but if I’m pressed for time I’ll jog there. A quick lunch lift like this typically only involves my upper body; I usually do more intense lower body lifting in the evening after a morning workout. I’ve got a simple 10-exercise routine that uses dumbbells ranging from 10 – 20 pounds and takes about 20 – 25 minutes to complete. By 12:45pm, I am headed back to work.

1:00 pm – After eating a quick lunch at my desk, it’s time to get back to work. Thankfully, afternoons are usually a little less hectic than mornings. Typically I’ll spend the afternoon doing analysis on the data I generated earlier in the day during mechanical testing or doing research for an upcoming project. This work is usually done from my desk, which means I get to rest a bit after being on my feet all morning. Occasionally I’ll also have to do some setup and preparation for the following morning’s clients.

4:30 pm – Time to head out. I change into my extra set of running clothes in the bathroom and pack only the essentials in my running backpack – wallet, ID, phone, keys. Taking the most direct route home would only be about 2.5 miles, so I do a slightly longer loop that will have me ending around 4 miles when I reach my house. This second run is just for recovery and is typically a little slower than my morning run, partly because I’m tired and partly because I’ve got the added weight from my running backpack.

5:00 pm – I arrive at our house, finally done exercising for the day. I try to spend 20 – 30 minutes stretching and rolling out before hopping in the shower again (running doubles is a serious killer for our water bill). This is also the time when I will take the dreaded ice bath if my body is feeling super sore and tired.

5:45 pm – Time to start dinner. If John’s home, we’ll do this together as cooking (and eating!) is one of our favorite things to do together. We like to make all kinds of things: baked breaded chicken drumsticks with Brussels sprouts, grilled steak with sauteed asparagus, egg fried rice with sausage and a medley of vegetables. On Fridays, we make homemade pizza: either marinara and Monterey Jack with sausage, peppers and onions or pesto and mozzarella with chicken, onions and mushrooms. During dinner prep is also the time that I’ll usually relax with a nice glass of red wine.

6:30 pm – This is typically about when we sit down to eat. Sometimes we just sit and chat about our day, but usually we throw on Netflix or HBO to continue with another episode of whatever series we are currently watching. As a result of having a bedtime similar to that of a toddler, we usually miss the original airing of most of our favorite shows, so we have to catch up the next day. We try and limit ourselves to only one episode a night during the week as the temptation to binge is simply too great if you don’t turn off the TV before the next episode automatically begins.

7:30pm – After cleaning up from dinner and storing any leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, John usually goes into the office to do a little more school work while I spend some quiet time doing something I enjoy. This might involve some kind of writing, either for my own blog or the NE Distance blog, or simply in my journal. I may also work on one of the seemingly infinite craft projects I have going on at any given time.

9:00 pm – By this time we usually try to be in bed with all of our night things taken care of (teeth brushed, contacts out, etc.). We spend half an hour or so reading to help us wind down and get sleepy. Other than setting the alarm for the next morning, we try not to be on our phones anymore at this point. This is usually much more of a struggle for me than John as his phone is usually dead by this time of night anyway.

9:30 pm – Lights out! Assuming we can both fall asleep by 10:00 pm, we get a solid 8 hours of sleep to help us recharge and be prepared to get up the next morning and do it all over again!


A Day in the Life: Rachel Schilkowsky