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RESISTANCE TRAINING: How to train like an Olympian

Updated: Jul 5, 2023

Being an Olympic-caliber #athlete means training every day, usually for several hours and sometimes for the majority of the day. When I was training for the Olympic Trials in Track and Field, a really hard day might look like this: Wake-up; eat #breakfast; do a warm-up jog of two to four miles; go through active stretching; drills, and strides; do a #workout such as a tempo run; cool down; eat food; stretch and foam rolling; rest for a few hours at home; warm-up for a second workout, such as 9x300m on the track at race pace with a 100m rest running slowly cooling down a couple of miles; eat a little food; do a strength training session in the weight room; ice bath or massage; eat dinner; do some more stretching and foam rolling and then bedtime.


Easy days are much easier than what I just listed; just an hour or so of work. So people used to ask why I didn't just work a part-time job. It's because when you're trying to recover from the type of workout you're routinely doing, you need to be fully resting. Nothing physically hard, nothing mentally hard, just rest. A lot of terrible 'TV' while lying on the floor and foam rolling. I know athletes that disagree and say that they need the stimulation, but I've definitely observed that they tend to be of the fully resting variety. Eating right is also very important, but it's more about eating enough, making sure the macro portions are approximately enough and getting enough nutrients/ diversity. After that, it's just fuel when you're working that much and that hard. Most of the Olympians I've known did not have a great diet: They ate a ton of food for rebuilding and have an amazing #metabolism.


My coach once told me that I should consider every single thing I did over the course of a day and ask myself "Is this going to help me make an #Olympic team?" If the answer was no then I shouldn't do it. I loved skiing and rock climbing and they are great for improving your overall health, but would they make me faster? No. So as much as I loved them, for a decade I did them very sparsely and only during offseason #training.


For all my writing so far about focus and effort, I do think you can want it too badly. Looking back at my career I think that's one problem I had and I know other elite athletes who say the same thing. It kept me up at night, it made me overly nervous for races. Early in my career I had more fun with it and didn't worry as much. Later in my career, I knew time was short and I had to make the most of it. It became a job and as much as I loved it, I also dreaded it a little bit. You have to keep it fun.


As much as people like to pretend otherwise it's extremely hard to beat natural talent. If anyone works hard they can improve immensely, but in some cases, it will just not be enough. Finding something that you are naturally gifted in can take you a long way if you're also willing to do the work.



A sub-four-minute miler and 4 time Div 1 All-American, Sean spent 8 years of his life training for the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Trails but fell just short. He said it was still a hell of a ride! He has coached track and field at the collegiate level and has provided strength training for several Olympians.

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