Jordan Hasay Was Training Like a Beast to Crush the Chicago Marathon
She was gearing up for the run of her life before a reoccurring injury sidelined her less than a month before the race.
With her long blonde braids and brilliant smile, 26-year-old Jordan Hasay stole hearts as she crossed the finish line at the 2017 Bank of Chicago Marathon. Her time of 2:20:57 was the second-fastest marathon time ever recorded for an American woman-the fastest American women's time ever on Chicago's course, and her own PR (by two minutes!). She finished third in the women's division, and had set her sights on competing for the win this year.
Sadly, the same injury that caused her to withdraw from the Boston Marathon earlier this year has forced her to put her dreams on hold-at least for now-she announced in an Instagram post on September 18, less than three weeks before the race.
"Unfortunately, I will be unable to compete in this year's @chimarathon due to an ongoing fracture in my calcaneal bone. After training well and pain free for several months, I am heartbroken to have to withdraw," she wrote.
In the months leading up to this year's Chicago Marathon on October 7, Hasay was working through her most intense training program yet: running 100 miles a week and-surprisingly-hoisting heavy weights two or three times a week too.
"A lot of runners shy away from any type of weight training, so it [was] kind of fun," says Hasay, who posts her routines and advice on strength training for other runners on Instagram. (Related: 6 Strength Exercises Every Runner Should Be Doing)
Her hour-long strength-training sessions began with a warm-up of dynamic stretching, followed by core and hip work and some kettlebell drills. Next came the heavy work: She deadlifted 205 pounds (twice her body weight) and box squatted the same, usually doing circuits with those two moves plus air lunges and box jumps.
Hasay first started lifting heavy in preparation for Chicago last year-and she attributes that as one of the reasons she scored a PR.
"At the end of a marathon, you're at your max aerobically, so you have to be really strong to lift your legs at the finish," she says. "All those hours in the weight room paid off in that last [100 meters]."
This year-in hopes of moving up from third place to first-she had to up the ante. The difference? She added in a third lifting session after her long runs. In the last few weeks leading up to Chicago, she was doing a 25-mile run almost every week-and then hitting the gym for an hour immediately following.
Crazy? Um, yes. Worth it? Totally, she says. (Related: Top 25 Marathon Training Tips)
"I can't run 26 miles every week at the pace I'm going to do in the marathon, but I can run for 2.5 hours, go in the weight room, and do some of the heavier stuff," says Hasay, who typically consumes about 4,000 calories a day to fuel her workouts. After that kind of training, "A marathon feels like a day off because you don't have to lift after-you're done!"
Besides increasing her power and strength to finish the marathon strong, lifting heavy has also helped Hasay recover from her first heel injury this year. She had to take a month off from running for the injury, which felt like a lifetime for Hasay. She didn't let it slow her down, though. Instead of running, she hit the weight room seven days a week, focusing on bodyweight exercises and flexibility and being careful to not put on too much muscle since she wasn't running. (See: The Health and Fitness Benefits of Lifting Heavy Weights)
Dealing with the emotional side of another injury like this can be derailing for an athlete, yet Hasay seems to be looking ahead to the future, with plans for a comeback.
"I am completely determined to figure out the cause of this injury and let it rest completely," she continued in the Instagram post. "With God willing, [I have] a long career ahead, this is only the beginning and I believe that going through all of this will only make me stronger."
Speaking of stronger-with a hard-core routine like this, you'd expect Hasay to be able to kill just about any workout she tries. Yet, she's the first to admit that's far from the truth. Case in point: hot yoga, which she also tried during recovery from her first injury.
"Oh gosh, it was so hard!" she says. "My first class I just kind of gave up-everyone in there was so flexible, I sat there in awe, just watching."
Through persistence with hot yoga classes, she says she saw some progression in her flexibility. And while she's "still not great" at it, she says she can get through a class and feel confident about all the poses. (Related: The Y7-Inspired Hot Vinyasa Yoga Flow You Can Do at Home)
While Hasay won't be hitting the pavement with the pack on October 7, hopefully all those heavy lifting sessions will aid her along the road to complete recovery, bringing her even closer to the front of the pack next year.
"It's a long journey, but if you focus on the mini milestones along the way, you will find beauty in the struggle of doing simple things that prior to this injury were taken for granted," Hasay wrote in her post, quoting Kobe Bryant. "This will also mean that when you return, you will have a new perspective."