Training Blog: Air Academy's Bethany Michalak

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Week 3 (August 13 - August 20)

Air Academy (CO) senior Bethany Michalak has a big season ahead of her. The Colorado standout finished sixth last year at the Colorado Class 5A State Cross Country Championships. But the NC State commit then had a breakthrough moment at Nike Cross Nationals when she finished third overall for a season best of 16:55 for 5K. As she trains for this cross country season, Michalak will return as the fastest competitor from nationals. During the spring, she finished second at states in the 1,600m and 3,200m. The rising senior also finished third in the mile at Brooks PR with a personal best of 4:37.39, which was ranked U.S. 5 in 2023. Michalak set a personal 3,200m best of 9:57.86 at her season opener at Arcadia. We've asked the Colorado star to give us some insight on her training this season. This is the first of a four-part training blog heading into cross country. 

Monday, August 14 - 7 miles

Today was the freshman's first day of school at Air Academy. My friends and I volunteered all day and helped the incoming freshman find their way around the school.

After school ended we went to practice. Today was a foundation run day and we ran 7 miles by our school, and then we came back and did strides and core. I spent the rest of Monday getting things ready for our first day of school on Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 15 - 7 miles

Tuesday was the first day of school for all of the Kadets!

I am definitely not happy that summer is over, but it was super fun seeing everyone after the break.

During the school year, we have practice right after school gets out, so my teammates and I headed down to meet our coach once school was over. It was a workout day and my coach had us doing a hill repeats session that was set up like a ladder. He had us do our hill repeats on a big gradual hill that went up for a few miles, and told us how long we were supposed to go up on each repeat. The workout consisted of three sets of hills: 2 mins up - 90s up - 60s up, 90s up - 60s up - and then 30s up and then 60s up - 30s up - 15s up.

This was our first time doing this workout and it went really well for our team. It was definitely tough but we worked together to get through it. After practice, our team went to our frozen yogurt place as tradition.

Wednesday, August 16 - 8.25 miles

Wednesday was our first day of a traditional schedule at school, so we were all very ready for the day to be over.

It was blazing hot when practice started on Wednesday, so we were not super excited to run in the heat. We ran our recovery day with our boys team and went on a loop that stretched all around the Air Force Base. About half way through our run it started raining, which made the whole run 10x more enjoyable. A couple of the guys, my teammate Emily and I had to go longer for our run that day. While we were doing this, the rain started pouring for about 15 mins which left us absolutely soaked for the rest of the run.

We made the most of it though and blasted Drake the whole time, it was definitely a 10/10 run!

Thursday, August 17 - 7 miles

After attending school all day, we had our team pictures for cross country.

This caused us to lose a lot of our actual run time, so everyone kinda had to run on their own to get the mileage they needed for the day. I ran a loop by our school that goes all the way up to a reservoir nearby. This run is super hilly with almost 1,000 ft of elevation gain, but it is really pretty and you get a lot of downhill on the second half of the loop. After this run, I did core and homework!

Friday, August 18 - 7 miles

Friday was our senior sunrise at Air Academy!

I got up at 5am to meet my friends at 5:40am to get coffee, and then we headed to our senior parking lot to watch the sunrise with our whole class. Every year at Air Academy, after sunrise, the seniors decorate our courtyard at the school with their class color.

Our class's color is yellow, so everyone brought tons of caution tape, streamers, and rubber ducks and we decorated the whole space. It surprisingly came together really well, and it was a fun way to start off the school year.

The first Friday of every school year at Air Academy is also known as class color day. So everyone showed up wearing their class color from head to toe.

We always finish off the day with an assembly to welcome in the new school year, and it is truly one of the most fun days of the whole year.

Once school ended I went to practice and got ready for the workout that day, which was 5x1Ks on the track. We usually do this workout on a dirt trail loop, but the weather looked bad that day so we had to stay near the school. My coach instructed us to take the first three 1Ks at threshold, and then the last two 1Ks were faster. I ran this workout with a few of my guy teammates Carson and Chase, and we took turns pacing the first three 1Ks. When we reached the last two 1Ks it started raining again, which was really nice since it was super hot when we started. We felt really good, so we pushed the pace a bit on the last 1K.

I spent the rest of the day recovering my legs and doing more homework.

Saturday, August 19 - 9 miles

My teammate Jordan and I went up to Breckenridge for the weekend with our moms so we could go see Mt. Joy in concert. We drove up early Saturday to Lake Dillon so we could get our long run in before the concert. We ran by the lake the whole run and were surrounded by mountains, so the whole run was gorgeous.

Once we finished we met back up with our moms and got lunch, then went back to our condo to get ready! We had to drive up to Vail for the concert, so Jordan and I left and headed up. Mt. Joy was amazing and it was truly so much fun. After the concert was over, we drove back to Breck to meet up with the moms again! It was a great way to say goodbye to summer before school starts ramping up!

Total Mileage: 45.25 miles 

This is the third of several training blogs written by various athletes as the 2023 cross country season begins to ramp up. Check out our training blog series page for more content.