Training Tuesday with the USA’s Rachael Morrison

The discus world champion talks us through how she is preparing for Rio 2016. 30 Aug 2016
Woman sits in chair and throws discus

The USA's Rachel Morrison won the discus F51 event at the 2016 Berlin Grand Prix.


The USA’s discus F52 world champion Rachael Morrison lines up at her first ever Paralympic Games in September, going for gold in both the discus and club throw events.

The 29-year-old only began competing in 2014, but has already broken the club throw and discus F51 world records multiple times. Here the Washington-state based Para athlete talks us through her Training Tuesday and her preparations for Rio 2016.


‘I’m a big egg person. I’ll start the morning with a nice dose of protein, and I’m very much a creature of habit, so I pretty much eat the same thing every morning for breakfast.

I’ve finally found a really good gluten free bread too – you can fold it in half and it doesn’t splinter and break apart, and I promise it’s amazing! I’ll throw that in the oven for my carbs.

In an average week I train two to four hours a day, doing various activities. Some of it is throwing specific, and some of it is just active – having fun, getting out there and releasing a little bit of energy.

I generally get up about 08:00, so not super early. My coach lives in a different state than I do so I have a local community that I participate with.

It’s a local programme, there are a lot of kids involved but it’s open to all ages. It’s called Parasport Spokane. It’s has been such a great experience for me. I moved 3,000 miles across the country and was just plugged in to this community and it’s been just really great, so that’s kind of my home team.

I have a local coach, David Greig, and Erica Wheeler is my head coach. Because of David’s job I have to be quite flexible in terms of what time of day we train. But that also prepares me for competition in that I have some morning sessions and I’ve got some evening sessions.

I can’t drink coffee past noon – that’s something I’ve had to learn. I really like coffee, but I can’t. Lunch can vary – I think that’s one of my most variable meals. I don’t need as much carbohydrate because I’m not a runner, for me it’s about a balanced plate – complex carbohydrates and good lean protein and lots of fruit and vegetables.

As for the rest of my day, part of it is participating with Parasport Spokane; I also volunteer at Shriners Hospitals for Children. I work with a team in the therapeutic recreation department, that’s a lot of fun. Sometimes it’s facilitating discussions, sometimes it fun activities, and kids just being kids. Despite the limitations of being at hospital to get treated, it’s like ‘No, first and foremost you are a kid,’ and we will modify and adapt what we need to to have fun.

I like having multiple training sessions - that way I can focus more deeply on one part over another and I have a nice rest break in between to recover. I like my naps, I won’t lie. I have a nap almost every day – a good hour. No longer than that otherwise I’ll just be sleepy for the rest of the day.

I like some wind down so I probably start around 21:00 or 21:30 and then eventually I’ll be asleep by 22.30. I might listen to music, or have a nice warm shower, or just turn down the lights and read – just decompress what I need to decompress from that day. I’m not a good sleeper, I wish I were – I wake up a lot. It’s infuriating sometimes but I really like having a nice intense session later in the day because that will help me sleep better.’