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Olympics

A Day in the Life of First-Time Olympian Morgan Pearson

Follow along with the training-filled diary of a medal contender.

At the World Triathlon Championships Series race in Yokohama, Japan back in May, Morgan Pearson surprised many to win his first WTCS podium and earn an automatic spot on the U.S. Olympic team. He then followed that up just three weeks later with a second place at the WTCS Leeds race in England—and quickly put himself near the top of the list of Olympic medal contenders

We checked in with him just a few weeks before he headed to Tokyo, while he was prepping in his home base of Boulder, Colorado and getting ready to make an Olympic debut in the individual race and the mixed relay. Here’s what a day in the life of an Olympian looks like.

RELATED: The Triathlete Hour Podcast: Morgan Pearson is Ready for Tokyo

Friday, July 2

My last race was about four weeks ago. After Leeds, I came back to Colorado and took a few days easy. I’m in the middle big training block with my coach, Dean Golich, leading up to my July 20 departure for Tokyo. I enjoy training in Boulder, there are numerous trail and road options for running and cycling, and the warm summer months open up some fun open water swim venues. Additionally, I’m surrounded by a strong group of endurance athletes and supportive friends to train alongside, which continually fuel my competitive energy. Since I first began racing triathlon, my number one goal was to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. Once I achieved that benchmark, I had to switch focus towards my next goal—getting on the Olympic podium. I believe I have more to offer this sport, and I want to be the best I can be for Team USA. I would like to think that my recent WTCS results have demonstrated my ability to contend for an individual medal in Tokyo. And I’m excited to compete in the mixed relay alongside Kevin McDowell, and I am confident our team can go head-to-head with the best in the world and challenge for the win.

7 a.m. – Alarm! I usually go to bed around 11 p.m. but still shoot for 8+ hours of sleep. Most days, the first discipline I train is the run. There are a variety of dirt and road running options in and around Boulder.  I appreciate that I can get out of town to enjoy a relatively flat run or drive up in the mountains if I want a harder hilly run at high altitude. I usually like to eat oatmeal and a smoothie for breakfast, but kept things especially light today with toast and peanut butter in anticipation of a hard morning track session. I always make sure I hydrate before and during training, especially when the temperature gets hot by mid-morning. Good practice for Tokyo!

9 a.m. – I met Chase McQueen at the track for some speedwork. We did a few minutes of mobility work before warming up with a few easy laps. Our main set was 20 x 200m in 29 seconds, which felt smooth and relaxed. This session is about consistency, and maintaining decent leg speed. Sessions like this aren’t too flashy but when I am biking 400+ kilometers per week I find they really help keep the pop in my legs for the run. In preparation for the Tokyo heat, I have been training in long sleeves or layers, which is starting to feel a little more comfortable, believe it or not. Following the main set, I cooled down with a few easy laps, and light stretching.

Running in long sleeves helps with heat adaptation. Photo: Nate Castner

10:30 a.m. – I’ll recover with Momentous protein, peanut butter, and jelly sandwiches and lots of fluids. Today was an especially busy day because my bike sponsor, Ventum, was also filming for a short feature they hope to release before Tokyo. I am really excited about the project, and to share more details about my personal journey. It was fun to sit down for an interview at the track and discuss my goals in Japan.

11:15 a.m. – Off to the pool. I am lucky because I get to swim outside, and usually I swim outside all year long. It’s invigorating to swim outside—either in the pool, or open water. Boulder has some decent open water options but I prefer hard intervals in the pool. Today’s pool set was all out 25s with different gear. Training the speed in the swim is super important for me because my weakness is in the water. Having Chase here in Boulder has really helped, he’s swimming 23-second 50s from a push. I believe the swim will be crucial in Tokyo, so it’s been a huge focus for me over the past couple weeks.

Living out of the car. Photo: Nate Castner

1 p.m. – Lunchtime! Coming off a track workout or brick, I like to refuel with giant burritos filled with rice, cheese, avocado, sour cream, beans, salsa, and some type of protein. Today, I knew I had a long ride in the afternoon so I added in some extra calories with a soda. After lunch, I’ll usually check email or catch up with my nutritionist while doing a few minutes of recovery so I’m fresh for my next training session. I like to use my boots and a recovery gun that I made myself out of a drill.

3 p.m. – I like to give my bike a once over before heading out on a ride. I just got a new time trial set up to prepare for the mixed team relay, so I’ve been putting extra work in on the TT bars. During my ride, I kept up my calories with some fruit snacks.

Practicing in the TT bars. Photo: Nate Castner

6 p.m. – Back from my ride, and need a snack before making dinner. I will typically have a Momentous Whey Protein Shake with water. My girlfriend, Molly, came over to cook, and we made pasta.

Fueling is key. Photo: Nate Castner

7 p.m. – After dinner, I like to relax with Molly, and then prep for the following day by laying out my gear. Tomorrow will be a lighter training day so I am fresh on 4th of July, when some friends and I are planning to run in the FireKracker 5K road race in Fort Collins. I have always enjoyed running road races.  vents like these are a fun way to test training progress and practice race day preparation and execution.

10:30 p.m. – Bedtime! Before bed, though, I’ve been hitting the sauna to get ready for the Tokyo heat.

*Pearson won the elite men’s July 4th FireKracker 5K road race in Fort Collins, Colorado later that weekend.