How athletes train: Natasha Hastings

The sprinter details the A-grade preparation that helped her achieve Olympic gold.

Five days after finishing fourth in the 400 meters at the Rio Olympics, Natasha Hastings faced the challenge of helping the U.S. women chase gold in the 4x400-meter relay.As the second leg, the 30-year-old Hastingsaided the team to gain an advantageous position as the U.S. women claimed gold for the third consecutive Olympics.

To withstand the intense training and heavy travel schedule, Austin-based Hastings hones in on every aspect of taking care of her body. “I used to say that Rio would be my last Olympics,” said Hastings. “But I feel like I’m coming into a different maturity. Even physically, I feel like I’m coming into the best shape of my life. I don’t think I’m done. There is hope to compete in Tokyo.”

Next up, her final race of the season, the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels, Belgium, on September 9. Below, a glimpse into her regimen:

The Training Regimen:I’m on the track five days a week. Monday, Wednesday and Friday are typically hard days; Tuesday and Thursday are lighter. I warm up for about 45 minutes to an hour. Most of what I do is dynamic. The workout itself is about 20 minutes. On a hard day, I may have four or five 500s and run each under a specific time with three to four minutes of rest between. On a lighter speed work day, I’ll do five 60s. I cool down for 20 to 30 minutes.

At the beginning of a training cycle, my strength coach creates a circuit with sprints and Olympic lifts. I lift three to four times a week for up to an hour and a half. I joke that if I look at weights I put on muscle mass. It’s very easy for me to get bulky. I do cardio when I strength train. Sometimes I use the StairMaster for 20 minutes. It’s old-school! After two minutes I’m drenched.

The Nutrition Regimen:I have a really hard time eating in the morning. Smoothies are the easiest route for me to get in calories, especially if I have a morning workout. I usually mix frozen bananas or strawberries with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate whey protein, and then sometimes I’ll put in greens, like spinach or kale. I also have an obsession with beets. I’ll juice and add a beet as well.

I’m usually ravenous after practice, so I have my heavier meal at lunch. I like chicken, steak and I love fish, especially salmon and sea bass, with greens. For dinner, I’ll have another protein and more greens and also a starch like rice or quinoa. I have a subscription with HelloFresh (a recipe and ingredient delivery service). It makes my life easier when it comes to planning meals. I’ve been doing it for about four months.

And I always have sparkling water, pineapples and eggs in my fridge. I buy a dozen eggs, boil them and snack on them between a workout.

The Regeneration Regimen: I’m not a big fan of massage during the season. Sometimes if I get a massage, the next day my legs feel heavy during a workout. It takes a while to flush out the toxins. I like doing active release therapy and foam rolling.

I’ll also take an ice bath for no more than 10 minutes after a really tough workout, when I know I’m going to be sore, but I have to be ready to go the next day. During the Rio Olympics, when I had three rounds three days in a row, I took an ice bath after each round.

When I travel, long flights automatically mean that once I get to wherever I’m going, I’m swollen. I’m always in Under Armour compression tights, and I’ll put compression socks on top. I also sleep in them the night before a competition, and I’ll even take an ice bath while wearing compression socks. I also use Normatec Recovery Boots. They’re awesome.

What’s Next:I have a few more meets. I’ll be in Europe until September 10th, and my final race for the season will be in Brussels. Then I’m looking forward to a vacation! I’m going to Thailand with 14 friends. I’m going to ride elephants, play with monkeys, jump in the ocean, and just kick back and have a good time.