Day in the life of a cross country star


Rachel Russell

Nettels clocked her fastest mile ever at the CIF Prelims in May with a time of 5:21.

On a typical November Tuesday, cross country star Lauren Nettels ‘20 rises as dawn breaks and debates whether to stay snuggled up in bed, covers over her face, or to get up, throw on a pair of Mizuno shoes and spend the first hour of her day running. 

Of course, Nettels decides to get up. She wouldn’t be the star runner she is otherwise. 

Pulling herself out of bed, Nettels performs her morning routine, brushing her teeth and washing her face. She then grabs a protein bar and pours her morning shots — plural — of espresso into her Yeti for after practice. Nettels feels a sense of pride for doing what no one but she and her teammates do: run at 6:30 in the morning.

“She’s so determined. Like, even when we finish a run, she will keep going to complete a full mile — like, she’ll do seven miles instead of 6.8 or something. This is her sport, and so even when Nish tells us it’s a conversation run [a slow, social run] she will take it seriously and go as hard as she can,” said Riley DeJardin ‘20, a fellow cross-country runner.

After the painful morning practice ends at roughly 7:30, Nettels and her teammates skip the showers, go straight to the locker room and change into their school uniforms. Heading up to class, Nettels throws back her two to three shots of espresso, still hot in her Yeti, and a small breakfast provided by the team’s coach, Mr. Kirk “Nish” Nishiyama: fruit, muffins, bagels and OJ.

Eating is a key part of the cross country life.

“The day before the final meet, we always watch ‘Without Limits’ and carb load on pizza and pasta from Two Guys,” Nish said.

On this regular Tuesday, though, the superstar runner follows up on her team breakfast by making her first of many trips to Nish’s room to refill her Hydro Flask with the jug of filtered water the coach keeps chilled for his runners. She also grabs a quick carb-heavy snack, usually Cheez-Its, and she runs into her fellow teammates, who are her favorite part of participating in cross country.

“You go through pain with them, so it’s just a different bond,” Nettels said.

She makes this stop, on average, four times a day, racking up a total of 128 ounces of water during the school day alone.

To avoid being weighed down during her second practice of the day after school, Nettels likes to keep her lunch light. Most of the time, she goes for the classic turkey sandwich. Upon finishing her food, she makes her way down to the training room to take her usual eight-minute ice bath.

“It’s painful at first, but then you get all numb halfway through,” Nettels said.

The final bell of the day rings. Nettels gets in her car and races down the hill to practice, which usually takes place at the Rose Bowl or JPL. After her one mile warmup, she leads a stretching circle along with her fellow captains, seniors Chase Hayes and Sarah Hanks. Then she outruns everyone else on the team by two miles, completing a total of seven miles.

“Running has showed Lauren what she can accomplish. It’s given her confidence and made her a great leader, even beyond the team,” Nish said. 

After practice ends at around 5:30 pm, Nettels takes a relaxing shower. Feeling refreshed and clean, she sits around the table and eats dinner with her family. 

“I usually have a lean protein, like grilled chicken, with a side of veggies, typically salad,” Nettles said.

Then she finally heads up to her room to do her homework for a few hours, catching up on reading or finishing her math assignments. 

After doing her homework and talking to her boyfriend, a fellow cross country runner, on FaceTime, she heads to bed around midnight, placing her cross country shoes alongside her bed for the coming day. She dreams of sleeping in, but alas, Lauren Nettels wouldn’t be Lauren Nettels without her commitment to her sport.