- Who are you? I’m Abby Kohut-Jackson, and I’m 19 years old and on the University of Minnesota Women’s Cross Country and Track team (Redshirt freshman). I run mid-distance to distance events in track, and I also run cross country.
- Short description of running experience or greatest accomplishment. I’ve been running since I decided to go out for the junior high cross country team back in 7th grade. I come from a family of runners, so it was natural for me to get into the sport. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had few injuries and setbacks thus far. I’ve pretty much steadily increased my training just a little bit from each year to the next, and I’ve seen corresponding improvements in my performances most years, which has been really rewarding.
- What does your typical week look like in terms of workouts? When preparing for a race? Sunday: long run, Monday: tempo/progression/distance-type workout, Tuesday: recovery run, Wednesday: workout, usually with some speed work, Thursday: recovery run, Friday: workout–can be distance, speed, or something else! Saturday: recovery or rest day. When preparing for a race (usually on a Friday or Saturday) I usually do two days of pretty light and easy runs leading up to race day. Workouts are tougher earlier in the week and ease off as the race approaches
- What is your favorite running workout? Least favorite? Favorite: Anything with speed! I love 400m repeats. Least favorite: Progression runs, but they’re growing on me! I used to struggle the most with longer workouts like tempo and progression runs, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned how to approach them better so they don’t seem so daunting
- How do you incorporate strength training into your week? We usually lift in the weight room 2-3 times per week. The lifting routine consists of a warm up followed by three or four blocks of three exercises, and we typically go through each block three times. At the end we go through a couple sets of a routine for abdominal muscles. The exercises vary so that they target many different muscles. Specifically, we want to work on our strength to avoid injury and be able to run fast in shorter events. We usually lift on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and sometimes Fridays, so they fall mainly on recovery days.
- Do you work with a strength or lifting coach?
Yes, my teammates and I all share the same strength coach at the University of Minnesota. In cross country, we all follow pretty much the same strength routine, but we divide into smaller groups in track based on events.
- What is your favorite strength training exercise? Least favorite?
Favorite: medicine ball throws….Least favorite: plank up-downs (alternating between plank position and push up position.
- Must have training equipment? We always use therabands at some point in a lifting routine, so those are a necessity! Stability balls and medicine balls are also versatile, and it’s always good to have dumbbells of varying weights on hand for different exercises.
- How has strength training benefited your performance?
I started doing strength training in a weight room when I came to college, and I noticed that I felt much stronger finishing all of my races, from the 800m to the 6k. I also saw some improvements in my shorter events and my ability to kick at the end of races, so I know my speed has improved from strength training, too.
- What are your favorite training related resources? I follow quite a few professional runners on social media, and I love seeing their latest posts of workouts, recipes, races, etc. I follow my coach’s plan for actual training because it’s very specific to what I need as a runner, but I like hearing about different strength exercises, recipes, and other “supplemental” stuff that is out there.
- What motivates you to get through a hard workout? I always tell myself that pain is temporary, and all I can give is all I’ve got for the day. It helps me to minimize stress about upcoming workouts if I know they’re going to be pretty tough. Another thing I like to think about is races in my past where everything has just “clicked”, and I ran a PR or had some other big accomplishment, It reminds me why I love the sport.
- Favorite song to workout to?
Don’t have one!
- Do you ever have workouts that just don’t go your way? How do you handle that?
Of course. There will always be workouts that you just don’t feel like yourself, or can’t quite hit the splits, etc. I have to remind myself to take things one day at a time and not let it dictate what the next day will bring.
- What is your favorite way to recover from a tough workout?
I make sure to fuel well with a balanced, healthy meal. I also stretch and foam roll to reduce soreness and sometimes take an ice bath. The next day is usually a recovery run, and I’ll often run without my Garmin so I’m running based on feel and not on pace.
- Do you have a favorite spot or location to run?
My favorite spot for long runs is a bike trail near my hometown of Huxley, Iowa. I love going out for long runs there because it’s usually pretty vacant, and I can let my mind wander since I know the trail inside and out.
- What does being a strong runner chick mean to you? I think strong runner chicks have to be balanced, but passionate. Although the physical component of running is huge, the mental and emotional aspects require toughness, dedication, and grit, too. Strong runner chicks are girls that love to run and make the most of their abilities, no matter what they may be.
All photos by the University of Minnesota Official Athletic Photographer.
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