It goes without saying that training for the Olympics is an intense, grueling, and sweat-inducing undertaking. Most athletes dedicate years — if not decades — to preparing their minds and bodies for this kind of event. And then there's Erin Jackson, who crammed these years of training into four short months before making the USA's Olympic long track speed skating team on Jan. 5.
Though Erin's no stranger to the world of skating (she's been a champion inline skater for the last decade and a half), her transition to the ice hasn't been as smooth as one might think. Jackson's even in a "Learn to Skate" program, simply for the sake of improving her technique and form on ice skates. That said, her natural athleticism and high-intensity workout regimen, led by coach Ryan Shimabukuro, have allowed Jackson to shave seconds off of her race time week over week, landing her a place on Team USA (and hopefully earning her a few medals come February!).
If you're wondering what Jackson's workout routine looks like — Monday through Thursday — here's a glimpse at her training schedule.
- Monday: Mondays involve a blend of both on- and off-ice training. The mornings are dedicated to dry-land exercises (all done off skates), which Jackson describes as similar to plyometrics but not quite as explosive. "[Dry-land training] is a lot of positioning, a lot of static exercises," she explained. "It's all about simulating skating movements and positions off skates. . . . Training your body to be comfortable in positions you'd need on the ice." She then takes to the ice for a "technical speed" session in the afternoon. "It's not all-out sprint training, it's more about visualizing your races," she said.
- Tuesday: Affectionately dubbed "Puke and Rally Tuesday," this is arguably the toughest day of the week. The first half of the day is spent doing interval exercises and tempos — or timed trials — basically testing how far and how fast these athletes can push themselves. After tempos, Jackson takes a quick break to eat and recharge (most of her meals during training are simple chicken and salmon dishes) before jumping into round two, which usually involves some intense weight-based workouts. "Mondays and Tuesdays are both super hard," Jackson said, "so once you make it past those days, the rest of the week is a lot easier."
Wednesday: Wednesday mornings involve more extensive and less intense interval exercises, all done on the ice, and athletes tackle individual cycling workouts in the afternoons. Jackson normally opts for a stationary bike workout, but it's up to each skater whether they hit the trails or not.
- Thursday: Thursday is a recovery day (phew!), which involves just an hour or so of a cycling exercise — usually Spin — and, for Jackson, a beginner's short track training in the afternoon. Although she made the Olympic team as a long track skater, Jackson still pads her weekly workouts with these short track sessions. "I'm in the 'Learn to Skate' program right now," she noted (almost with a chuckle). "It's a chance to get more ice time and just work on my technique outside of practice."
When she's not Spinning, skating, or "puke-and-rallying," Jackson claims to be the laziest person around — binge-watching shows like Suits and indulging in cream-filled Indian dishes (chicken coconut korma's her favorite). But, um, I'd say she's earned it . . .
Can't wait to watch all of this work pay off soon in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Best of luck, Erin; we'll be cheering you on!