2016 Paralympian Cody Jones shares a day in his life at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center. Cody competed in Track & Field in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro and is currently training for the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo (the 2020 Games have been postponed to 2021).
As Tokyo 2020 approaches, I have been asked to share what a typical day of training looks like. I’ve been on a two-month rotation at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
Here is a look at my daily routine as well as the highs and lows of being a full-time athlete.
First of all, training takes me away from my family. Any serious athlete knows the sacrifice it takes to make the team, win first place, and truly become better than when you were before. Part of this journey for me was leaving home for the first time, which includes time away from my eight-year-old little brother and best friend, Caleb.
Even though training has pulled me away from my family, it has also given me plenty of new friends. The other athletes here at the Training Center provide a lot of laughs and a lot of fuel to keep going when training gets overwhelmingly boring and repetitive. One of the first things I said to my Ready, Set, Gold! crew is that they all have a team (teachers, school staff, friends, family members, etc.). As I go through my day, the effect that my team has is abundantly clear.
All the athletes living on-site live in college style dorm rooms. I don’t have a direct roommate, but my suitemate is Paralympic medalist and superstar Lex Gilliete (VI long jumper). I wake up around 8 a.m., get ready for the day, and head to the cafeteria for breakfast. The omelets are my favorite and the nutritionist told me to eat more so I could gain more muscle mass.
What I do after breakfast depends on what day of the week it is.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I have an hour or so to stretch, help out a teammate with his practice, or catch-up on laundry. I have to eat lunch at 11:30 a.m., so I can be ready to warm up for practice by 12:30 p.m. I then get to throw javelins with Coach Erica Wheeler (1996 Olympian) and my teammate Max Rohn. We work on technique and depending on the day, we can throw for up to two hours. I then stretch some more, get some recovery in, drink plenty of fluids, shower, and eat dinner #1 at 4:30 p.m.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are my heavier training days. Breakfast is the same but then at 10 a.m. we have a circuit where we either focus on footwork or upper body work. That usually lasts until 12:30 p.m. We all then head up to the cafeteria for lunch. After replenishing with food, Max and I walk on over to the gym at 1:30 p.m. and follow our lifting coach Goose’s plan. Afterward, I stretch, shower, and get ready for dinner #1 at 4:30 p.m.
I stay at the dinner table for a long time listening to all the other athletes talk about their day. They often make silly jokes or talk about their journey to Tokyo 2020. Sometimes I stay at the table so long I’m still in the cafeteria for dinner #2 at 7:30 p.m. Why two dinners you might ask? It is part of my training to get the right amount of fuel and nutrition in my body for my muscles to grow. Food is an important part of an athlete’s recovery.
I like having a schedule, but it is always fun to switch it up every now and again. Lately, a lot of athletes have been playing ping pong. It is important to have fun and be silly while training so hard. In my case, it helps that I am really good at ping pong :).
Ultimately, training is a repeat schedule with constant dedication, some struggle, and a splash of fun.