A Day in the Life: Eric Avila
"We value recovery. If you’re tired, there’s a reason. If you don’t have it today, go home."
From Runner's World / adidas
Here's a movie pitch for you: A late-blooming high school state champion goes to college, gets arrested, flunks out, labors as a landscaper, gets a second chance, earns his degree and becomes one of the country's elite Milers. Interested? Great. There's only one catch: Eric Avila's story is still unfinished.
"I think I’m a national caliber runner. I can 'fill the field,' I guess," Avila, 29, told us from his home as his cat, Simba, looked on, half awake. "Now we want to be on the start line to win."
"We" refers to Avila's coach, Terrence Mahon, and recently new teammates at The Mission Athletics Club, an elite team sponsored by adidas and based in San Diego, just a (traffic-contingent) stone's throw from Avila's childhood and current home in Chula Vista. With his father retired, his brother settling down, and himself searching for balance, the decision to move back was an easy one.
Now settled into a routine, Avila took Runner's World through a day in his training life.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This conversation has been edited for length and clarity)
7:30am Wake up, don't talk to me
I wake up at 7:30 or 8:00, depending when we’re meeting. It fluctuates because of traffic.
I make my Aeropress coffee and have my breakfast. Yogurt, cocoa powder, cocoa nibs and chia seeds that I put in the fridge overnight. In the morning I throw in some frozen fruit, peanut butter, honey and cinnamon powder. If I’m really hungry I’ll also make some toast and marmalade just because I’m a sucker for toast and marmalade. Right after that I have my coffee, take some vitamins, maybe some supplements. On a workout day, just a protein shake.
Sometimes I take my roommate's dog out and hang with him. Sometimes I hang with the cat. Usually I have my headphones on, listening to a podcast or reading a book. That's kinda my thing, like, don't talk to me.
8:00am Start my commute
I grab a water bottle, pack my backpack, head out. I live the farthest away so I’m the one who has to leave an hour-plus before. I'm constantly checking traffic, updating, seeing where I'm at. On workout days I drink my pre-workout drink on the drive.
9:00am First run
I try get to practice on time. We chit-chat a bit about news, politics, a lot of banter. It’s like a family, it makes it fun. Makes it a lot less like work than it has to be.
Then we do our run.
Monday and Thursday is an easy run then drills and hill sprints or dynamic stability work. Wednesday is our mid-week long run; 10 or 12 miles in the morning and call it a day. Tuesday and Friday are big days—a long track session or tempo then regroup at Kinetic Performance gym to lift for an hour or two. Saturday is easy. Sunday is long; 14 to 18 miles, depending where we are in training.
Terrence is really good about approaching it from a scientific standpoint but some days you’re just mentally drained. That’s where the team comes into effect. My training partners, these Olympians and amazing athletes, have days when they don’t have anything. It's nice in a way to see that they’re human.
All these commercials are like, "Push through the pain! No off days!" We have a different mindset, a holistic approach. We value recovery. If you’re tired, there’s a reason. If you don’t have it today, go home.
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