“Recovery is a huge aspect of having that edge over your opponent.”
6 YEARS, 19 SECONDS
A 22-time high school track and field state champion from Pass Christian, Mississippi, Cory McGee has spent most of her life racing against the clock, chipping away seconds from her personal bests to compete against the world’s most elite talent. In 2014, she graduated from the University of Florida as a 10-time All-American and 1500m school record holder.
During this time it had taken 6 years to shave 19 seconds off her 1500m, going from a 4:25 to a 4:06. Her steady progression secured her spot to the 2012 US Olympic Trials and the 2013 World Championships. For Cory, it was never about being lucky. It was about the habitual lifestyle she followed to be successful.
CHECKING OFF THE BOXES
A typical 1500m race for Cory lasts roughly 4 minutes. Those 4 minutes are laser-focused, tactical, and unforgiving. What most people don’t see, however, are the tireless hours she spends doing the little things behind the scenes. A workout, for instance, can take up to 3 hours.
3-Mile Warmup / Dynamic Drills / Hurdle Drills / Stretching / Rehab Exercises / Rolling / Protein Shake / More Stretching
These routines are crucial to Cory's training plan and what keep her in the elite running circuit. When you’re trying to make a world team, you can’t afford to miss even the tiniest details. One poor performance can knock your entire season. One major injury can derail your entire year.
Recovery is imperative.
Aqua Jogging / Normatec / Napping / Nutrition / Stretching / Rolling / Physical Therapy / Vitamins / Meditation
“Naps are a huge thing for me,” she explains. “When I nap, I find that I’m a lot better off the next day. I think it’s just hard for me to get 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night, but if I make time for a nap, then my Recovery is noticeably higher the next day.”
SETBACKS, EVEN BIGGER COMEBACKS
In 2017, Cory suffered a sacral stress fracture. As she toed the starting line at the Diamond League meet in Shanghai, she knew something was wrong. She raced anyway and placed 13th overall, running a blazing 4:09 in the 1500m. And then she had to take 6 months off.
It wasn’t her first time with a major injury. In 2012 following the trials, she sliced her hallucis longus tendon when someone accidentally dropped and shattered their drink nearby. Following surgery, she spent months in the pool aqua jogging to stay in shape.
While injuries like these can make or break a runner’s decision to continue pursuing the sport, for Cory they served as reasons to come back stronger than before.
“You can’t let it put fear into your training,” she explains. “You have to adjust and trust that your next chance is going to happen.”
RECOVERY: WHERE THE RACE IS WON
Although she’s a regular at US Championships and has made 2 world teams, she has yet to go to the Olympics. Naturally, her eyes are set on Tokyo 2020.
“[Track and field] is so competitive in the United States. It’s the hardest country to make an Olympic team because of the depth we have,” she says. “You can’t reinvent the wheel, we’re pretty much all doing the same thing in training. It’s just a matter of who’s taking care of their body the best leading into races, and who approaches the race with the right mindset.”
Recovery is an important part of training for any elite athlete. However, Cory realizes that it may actually be the most important part.
“Recovery is a huge aspect – having that edge over your opponent. It’s where the race is won.”
In 2017, Cory made the decision to incorporate WHOOP into her training to optimize her Recovery. Since getting on the system, it’s revealed things she never knew she needed to pay attention to, specifically her heart rate variability (HRV) and the breakdown of her sleep cycles.
“My best Recovery day was the day before I ran my PR,” she says, referring to the 4:27 mile she ran at a Boston University meet last December. “It was the highest in the green I’ve been, and the next day was my best performance.”
THE WORK IS NEVER DONE
For 2018, Cory has some major goals. She’d like to make another world team and work towards securing her spot at the 2020 US Olympic Trials. To do so she has to hit certain time standards, and she believes WHOOP can help.
“I want to run 2-flat in the 800m, and get closer to 4-flat in the 1500m. The thing that’s hardest for me is backing off. I’m really bad at giving myself a break because I love training.”
As Cory monitors her Recovery on the WHOOP system, she sees more clearly how certain behaviors affect her performance, both positively and negatively. She’s also learned how to dial it back when needed.
“It’s so progressive. The longer I wear WHOOP, the more information I have and the more I’ll be able to depend on that. It’s logging all of my data and I can go back say, ‘Oh yeah, I see how this or that affected my performance that day.’”
“Recovery is what really separates the people who are winning races versus the people who are in the US Final."