Heidi Nielson has been crushing cross country and distance running in the Lone Star State since she was a freshman in 2017. But this year the Texan seems to be headed toward another place. A qualifier for Nike Cross Nationals in 2018 and a 2-time finisher Foot Locker Nationals, Nielson made two USA U20 teams over the past calendar year -- wearing the nation's colors at the IAAF U20 Cross Country Championships and at the Pan American U20 Championships. As a junior, Nielson will challenge for her first Class 6A state title -- the state's toughest division, with talented runners like Brynn Brown, Natalie Cook, and Aubrey O'Connell -- and then will hope to clinch tickets to national meets like she did in 2018. Check out the Houston native's training this preseason.
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Week 1 (August 5th - August 11th)
Monday, August 5th: 7 miles
Today was my first "official" day back running. I took a break after running at the Pan American U20 Championships in Costa Rica (Editor's note: Heidi was fifth in the 5K) and I'm just getting back to running. I did a couple runs during break with friends just for fun, but I feel like I'm ready to get back into training. On today's run I ran with my teammate, Sophie Atkinson. We ran past one of the other high schools (Tompkins) and then back. We saw the Tompkins team running during our run, too; they are the nicest girls. Last year at the state meet my team didn't qualify, but they did. On the drive to state we stopped at a gas station, and their team stopped at the same one. They had an over-sized good luck card prepared for me and Sophie, which everyone on their team signed. It was so awesome to have such good friends and competitors just down the road.
Our run was around 7 miles. My joints were hurting a bit today and I felt a little extra tired, but luckily I had Sophie with me to help me stay motivated. Sophie and I have been running together since I started running and it's really awesome to have her as a teammate and running partner.
Tuesday, August 6th: 7 miles
Today my coach had our team do a 3K pace run on the field so she could evaluate where everyone is at before the season starts. My old teammate, Reagan Kappel, was there -- she runs at The University of Oklahoma now -- and coincidentally she also had to do a 3K run. Reagan is awesome -- she's one of the nicest people you will ever meet -- and she's a really hard worker. My freshman year before Reagan graduated she was a really great friend and teammate and even when she was injured she would cheer us on. She got injured at our district meet. However, she finished that race and limped across the line, which allowed the team to move on to regionals and we would eventually get to the state meet with Reagan cheering for us. She missed track season, too, but she continued to cheer us all through track season. She is so awesome. Me, Reagan, and Sophie all ran in a pack and pushed each other to stay on pace. The front field is just about a 1K loop, so we did 3 laps and it went well, I felt good and fresh, much better than yesterday. We had a 2-mile cool down and we just talked so that was really fun. Later in the day I did a 30 minute recovery run around my neighborhood.
Wednesday, August 7th: Easy
Today was just an easy run; I ran with Sophie again. We ran on the bayous by the school -- I had to watch out for alligators ... haha. It was super hot and humid this morning, so I didn't feel super great but I got it done, then we did some stretching and core as a team. I love my team they are so awesome and its really fun to be with them after practice.
Thursday, August 8th: Workout time
It's workout day! We went to the soccer fields and did a fartlek. It started with 1-min fast, working up to 4-min, then back down to 1-min with 1 minute of slower running/recovery between each one. The sprinklers were on on some of the fields so it was really refreshing to run through them. Today was also our first team dinner!! It was so great to have the team together outside of practice. We had a lot of fun and I'm so excited for this season, the team is so great!
Friday, August 9th: 5 miles
Today was a great run! I had a bigger group of friends to run with today. I ran with Sophie, Rich, Alan, and Wyatt. Rich and Alan both graduated last year and are headed on to run at their universities. Rich is going to run for Alabama and Alan is going to run for UH (Houston). They are some of the best running partners. It's always fun when I run with them and they are heading off to school next week, so I'm glad they came to practice today. I will miss them both so much this year. Wyatt is also an awesome running partner; I've run with him a lot this summer and he finally got back from vacation so he ran with us today. We did about 5 miles and I felt really good on the run. It was great to talk with and run with my friends. After practice some of us went out and got breakfast tacos (a Texas staple), which was also really fun.
Saturday, August 10th: warm-up + 2 miles + cool down
Today was our first meet! It wasn't really a normal meet, though ... more of a glorified workout. It was a mile relay. So each person ran two miles total. Everyone had 1 partner and the total relay was 4 miles. My partner was Camila Corser and I was first leg so I ran a mile, she ran a mile, I ran a mile, and then she ran the last mile. It was really fun! Camila is so fun, she's in my grade and we are good friends, she is one of the funniest people I know! After our race we cheered on the rest of the races and the rest of our team. It was really fun and after the meet our team
Sunday, August 11th
This was my day off. I think it's important to take a day to rest and reset. So on Sundays the only thing I do for training is my core/strengthening routine.
* Nielson after booking her ticket to the Pan American U20 Championships
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