Last summer while training for the beach volleyball season, our group needed an extra girl to run some drills with. Our coach (Paul) showed up with this lovely Wisconsinite to play with us and arranged for me to chat with her afterwards about her fascinating life as a professional athlete. Turns out that not only is she a great beach volleyball player, but she is a professional heptahlete too. Even though I had participated in track and field in high school and have dabbled in the world of triathalons, I had to google what exactly a heptathalon was. This event consists of following 7 events:
- 100m hurdles
- High jump
- Shot put
- 200m sprint
- Long jump
- 800m run
I quickly asked this incredibly down-to-earth pro athlete, Lindsay Schwartz, to answer a bunch of questions that would reveal information to my readers about her training, mindset, nutrition and recovery. I’ll let her tell you more about what contributes to her success in her sport and in her life. Take it away Lindsay!
Tell us about yourself.
I am 27 years old from WI and graduated from University of South Alabama with degree in Recreation Administration. Played volleyball and ran track in college. I have an older sister who we lost at birth, a brother who is 30 years old and a chiropractor, and a younger sister.
My parents have been married for 37 years. One of my favorite places is being up north at our cabin in woods in northern Wisconsin just relaxing or snowmobiling. I am a pro-heptathlete. I trained 5 years in California with the Santa Barbara Track Club and now training on my own in Texas. For work I have been coaching and babysitting. These work really well with my training schedule and I love working with kids. I have a hard time working a 9 to 5 work day.
I have coached everything from flag football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, track (also played almost every sport-volleyball, basketball, swimming, tennis, flag football, slow pitch softball, soccer).
How did you get into track and field?
My brother started track and field his junior year of high school when I was in 8th grade. Starting in 7th grade we had track more as PE. My freshman year I had to choose between soccer and track. I had been playing soccer since I was 5 and track was new to me. Even with track was new to me I was excelling. So back to the beginning, I was excelling, my brother was going to be my teammate, track fell into its path!
What is a typical week of training for you?
- Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Sat weights after track. Mon/Wed are short days, Tues/Thurs long days, Friday/Saturday depends.
- Monday regeneration (get body back moving after day off) plus shot or javelin
- Tues/Thurs get after it-explosive day: 1 to 2 events plus speed or speed endurance
- Wed non impact active recovery (pool/bike/yoga/etc)
- Friday javelin or shot put and running conditioning (running endurance)
Training can be as short as an hour or as long as 5 hours. This is a very generalized week but when it comes to training it is always individualized based on how I am feeling in that cycle/day of training. There are days to push the body and there are days to back off.
What separates you from other professional athletes in your sport?
I am pretty consistent. Heptathlon is 7 different events which equal 1 event. You have to be good at 7 events not just 1. I credit this to doing a bunch of different sports, multi sport athlete, using all of the body and mind. I also work with the youth, which helps me see both sides, coach and athlete.
How do you prepare for high pressure situations?
- Alone time/ visualization
- Organized –Almost an OCD –I will start putting a pile on my floor a month out from a high pressure situation. Helps cut down stress and helps remind me what I need to have to be prepared.
- Being prepared. Hard to explain but when you put in the work, done all the experimenting, found what works for you, had the goal for high pressure situation, being prepared physically brings confidence mentally to the high pressure situation.
- When one is organized and prepared with the ‘extra stuff’ the mind can be focused.
What goes through your mind when you're under pressure and how do you deal with or use it to your advantage?
The mind can control the body. Morning of pressure meets I will sometimes throw up, I might have not slept night before, breakfast is gagged down. Nerves are part of it and can help with adrenaline.
Warm up is the hardest part. Once you get in to it, worry about yourself, each event ahead and you came prepared for it-game time is to stop thinking and be an athlete. Breathing to stop the mind from thinking about anything can be helpful in pressure. I will sometimes cover my eyes, plug my ears, and turn away when my competitors are up to not focus on what they are doing. This can help me from taking myself out of the competition mentally. (Example: knowing a competitor cleared a bar in high jump can make me tell myself ‘I have to clear the bar’-“have to does nothing for the body or mind.
How do you recover after a practice or training session?
- Shake or if I can food
- Foam roll/stretch
How do you recover after a competition?
- Ice bath
- Sleep (which I think is one of the most important and is the hardest)-body hurts/mind racing)
- Get blood flowing day after (bike/yoga/pool/etc) don’t just sit around. If I can, other sports (vball/hiking/etc).
How do you/did you develop and maintain a champion's mindset?
- Stubborn-hate to lose
- Nothing ever is good enough (even if I get personal record-I find some reason why it could be better). Strive for perfection even though that is not possible
- Set new goals-always knew there was better (upper classmen/conference/NCAA/pro)
- Working with youth-how much they look up to you/ have no fear/ they get after it
Do you have any books to recommend to other Healthy Green Athletes?
- Born to run
- The boys in the boat
- Any John Wooden books
- non sport-financial-Dave Ramsey books
Who are some of your favorite athletes and why?
- JJ Watt-gives back/youth/positive/role model/doesn’t take what he has for granted
- My brother-got to learn from him
- Erin Blumert, Bobsled bronze medalist, strength training partner. She experienced where I want to get to. Learning she went through some of the same things I struggle with now even being different sports. Mentor to me.
- Barbara Nwaba, Olympian-training partner post collegiate. Really learn first hand what it takes to get to top
Do you follow a particular diet on a daily basis?
- Fuel to be great
- Fuel for fire
- I don’t like the word ‘diet’ because when I talk to people and say ‘diet’ they give expressions like it is a bad word. Been trying to say healthy lifestyle (choices)
- Basically fruits/veggies/meat/water
- Eat more in fall with higher training/base training
How does your diet change during our offseason?
Let me be honest, I have zero self control come off season. I eat whatever/whenever I want and way too much. This is a bad habit I am trying to break and am working more toward a 95% to 5% balance. I focus on useful calories/nutrients verses useless/zero nutrients. My “diet” is year round instead of having a really strict and not strict phase.
During season I am good with nutrition because I have a goal. Don’t have many temptations and have a lot of control.
How do you make sure that you are on top of your game?
- Preparation=confidence=top performance
- Fuel –food/water/vitamins
Recovery-sleep/injury prevention (rehab)/etc to help speed up recovery
- Physical (track event work/strength training)
- Experiment-practice meets. Try different things at meets that do not matter as much so when it comes to a meet that counts, know exactly what I want to do.
What is your definition of an athlete?
An athlete is a student and someone who focuses on:
- Work ethic
- Time management
- Being a leader, follower and role model
- Living a healthy lifestyle
I believe that a connection to nature plays a big role in athletic performance. How do you connect with nature?
- Track is outdoors (peaceful place)
- Nature is a calming place for me. I love to find a place to sit where no one else is outdoors. This is for my mind and recovery
- I love the outdoors-hiking/sking/camping/canoeing/kayaking/snowmobiling/sand volleyball/lakes are part of my off season or active recovery but will be part of my active lifestyle when my track career is over.
What is your end goal when it comes to your sport?
Olympics would be amazing. There are many great women in the sport-heptathlon is deep for USA so being top 3 in USA is no joke. I want to reach my potential or close to it-what I believe. I always thought if I didn’t make Olympics I was nothing and I would let a lot of people down—I had to look back.
What I have been able to do is so great with memories to last a lifetime. I have made friends all over the world. I have pushed myself farther than I ever thought I could get to. I have been able to travel the world. I have been able to give back to youth in a small way but still. After my career I want to give back to kids-help them find their path-reach their potential.
What are some of your other life goals?
- Live life (explore the world we live in /try new things)
- Excel at whatever is put in my path
- Impact/make a stamp in people’s lives
- Learn and teach
When not training, what do you do for fun?
- Active-I guess that is just part of my life. Hard for me to sit still
- Volleyball, basketball, hike, ski, or snowmobile
- Family/being an Aunt of two little girls is the best
- Try new things
- I have to look at “how it will affect my training” and in mom’s words “no dumb injuries”
What makes you a healthy green athlete?
I have always been a very individual person. Team sports were hard for me. Everyone is their own unique self-everyone needs different things. Not only multi sport but live a multi-life. Be involved.
My sister was diagnosis to being allergic to sugar since I was 7. Eating healthy was learned from a young age. We went to a chiropractor since I was young. I truly believe I was able to stay pretty injury free and excel at athletics because of my chiropractors. They kind of instilled in me there are no ‘quick fixes’. Example: was told I needed surgery for an abscess, instead I changed some of food I was eating and never had to have it drained again.
I believe “issues” can be resolved by lifestyle; which includes mindset, nutrition, performance, and recovery.
I love quotes!
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
“You are never alone. You will always and forever have support.”
“I’m not telling you it is going to be easy, I’m telling you it’s worth it.”
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.”
“If you always do what you have always done, you’ll always get what you have always got.”
“Don’t wait for the perfect moment, take the moment and make it perfect.”
“Champions keep playing until they get it right.”
Anything else you'd like to add?
I am still learning and experimenting to see what works for me in order to try to get to perfect (but I won’t be).
It’s hard for people to realize what us athletes go through unless they are in it. My life revolves around my training. Even people close to me don’t understand-for example offering me food or drinks I should not have (saying it will not hurt me), asking me to work more hours (I am a work-a-holic but I do have to rest my mind and body to perform at high levels), asking me to take their dog for a run as I am an athlete, working out with their kids-not understanding I have my own workouts. Doing extra does not always help. I would love to do more but too much can affect training. Thinking athletes only train Olympic year…we barely take holidays off! Our ‘job’ is 24 hours/365 days a year!
With all this being said I would not change my life. I love what I do. It challenges me on a daily basis but it also makes me a better me!