How do you train for the Paralympics?
First, running in the Paralympics, are two sports. Paralympians are track and field athletes and Nascar athletes. We have to have a pit crew, and tons of prosthetics, to keep me on the track. We have to train just like a pit crew in Nascar does. I have to learn about my prosthetics, work with the pit crew, and then get back on the track. The advancement and technology just over the past 15 to 20 years of the sport's prosthetics have gone so far. I had to learn about my alignment and, to this day, still learn about my alignment. That being said, to learn about my alignment, I have someone with a camera follow me. I get a front view, side view and rear view of my runs. This is the best way to learn.
I have about five to six boxes of different legs, each used for different events. The legs have different cleats, suction systems, and springs. I've tried all kinds.
Now, how do I train? On a Monday (it's a big training day) I'll wake up at 5:30 a.m. and eat a good breakfast. I let the food digest an hour-and-a-half to two hours before I hit the track. But before that, I go into work to see what's going on. Then I head to the track. I like to go to the track before I lift weights. I first warm up, and then I do a speed session, about six to eight 30m short sprints. I then give myself a five-minute recovery in between each set.
More: Try Incorporating 20-Second 'Short Sprints' Into Your Workouts
I listen to my body. Some days I can run more, some I can't. If I need to back off, I do so. It all depends. But, I always give myself about a 10- to 15-meter lead and then it's a hard sprint the rest of the way. I then allow myself to cool down.
After a good lunch, I head back to work. On my way home, I have my weight-room session. I lift heavy weights and do low reps. Around 6:00 p.m., I head home to take care of three kids and see my wonderful wife. Evening time is family time.
How important is your nutrition intake?
I eat a good, solid breakfast. Breakfast is the most important meal because that is where I get my energy. I know if I go without breakfast I'll have a horrible day and that leads to a horrible workout and it just sets me up for all kinds of failures.
I also have to stay hydrated, so I drink water as much as I can. I try to eat two to three bananas a day; it keeps my muscles from cramping. Also, I snack. If I get to a point where I'm hungry, I've failed myself. I usually carry around some Kellogg's snacks in my pocket to stay energized throughout the day.
I will have a sports drink, something with electrolytes, before my weight session. During the summer I drink more electrolytes because of the hot weather.
More: 4 Key Hydration Tips for Runners
How do you train year round?
I ride the bike during the winter. It's too cold to do speed workouts outside and it's not good for your body. Even in the summer, I take a 30-minute warm up before I do my speed workout. But in the winter, I use the bike. So I get on the bike sometimes for 15 to 20 minutes. For the first few seconds of every minute, I go as fast as I can to maintain my speed training.
Is there anything in particular you do when you travel for events?
The most important part for me is to stay hydrated. When on the plane, the body tends to dehydrate. So I drink plenty of water and eat snacks to stay nourished. I also wear compression socks on the plane.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I'm posted for six jumps and that's what I focus on. I mimic that as much as I can. I also think it's good for athletes not to get used to a routine because things change and you have to be flexible. I don't mind going really early in the morning to the weight room and then track at night or vice versa. I try to stay flexible so I'm always ready to step up to the plate.
More: Race Day 101
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