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Rachel's Skeleton Blog #1

Posted: 5th Sep 2017 by Lewis Smith

For those that don't know Rachel, she has competed for the Club for over 10 years, and was a gifted athlete in a number of events throughout her track and field career. Rachel came across Discover Your Gold while attending a Sport Science course at Loughborough Universirty with the English Institute of Sport. Rachel progressed through all the stages and joined the GB Skeleton Talent squad in the summer of 2017. Rachel has kindly written a blog for us about the start of her exciting journey.


Blog 1- How my life has changed... 

By Rachel Hanagan


Almost this time last year (6th September 2016 to be precise) I received an unexpected email from the EIS to say I’d been invited to a phase 1 test event for “Discover Your Gold”.  Now I’ve been living in Bath for about 9ish weeks and have got 2 blocks (8 weeks) of training under my belt as a “SKELETON” athlete (need to get used to saying that). How my life has changed...


So the big move went well. My flatmate and I have settled in nicely to our new home, and am pleased to say we are no longer living in a greenhouse as we finally have curtains and fully functioning windows (don’t ask, long story!). Having said that, we’re hardly at home: only really at the weekends and pretty much to sleep.


As for work, that’s going ok, I mean it pays the bills (just about) and allows me to be able to train. I work part-time in the evenings at the hospital as a Medical Records Assistant, so basically admin for the department. Thankfully it’s not too taxing after a full day of training, but if I’m honest it’s really boring! And just recently, it’s begun to clash with some athlete workshops/education sessions. So, annoyingly I have had to sacrifice one or the other but apart from that, the balance is generally working well.


So what does a typical day in the life of a “SKELETON” athlete look like I hear you ask? Well pretty full on. For example, Monday which is probably our longest day begins with a 6am start (usually 5.50am to allow me to put in my contact lenses - it’s so hard at that time of morning!). I get ready to have breakfast and leave by 6.30am to cycle 10mins down the road to the local McDonalds. And no we don’t get a second breakfast here (I’m a “SKELETON athlete” remember), it’s just where we lock our bikes before we catch a lift with a few other athletes. Unless we’re in a little bit later, then we catch the bus instead. Our first session on a Monday is Pillar which is a mobility/activation session, kind of like Pilates. This is 45mins long and just gets us ready for the sessions ahead. To begin with this was a rather relaxing session, but as it has stepped up over the weeks you definitely work up a sweat!


After Pillar we head to the HPG (High Performance Gym) which only elite athletes can use, for our force session. We have 2 different force sessions a week, but this one for this block consists of: 

- Back Squats 

- Hip Thrusts 

- SL Leg Press 

- Loaded Prowler Push 

- Superset-GHR 

- Seated Calf Raise 


I am always being pushed by the Coach in these sessions because I have a tendency to make everything look easy i.e. my face does not show pain, even if deep inside I am dying. They love how I just get on with it and make it look effortless, but it’s not so funny when they keep pushing the weights up each set (over the planned weight) to the point that I can’t even move! (I can’t really complain though, I am definitely seeing and feeling the results- I’ve already put on 4KG!! since the start of the programme).


After some down time, and more importantly FOOD! Speaking of which - Oh my, I never thought I could consume so much food. When the Lifestyle Advisor said we’d be spending a lot on food as we’d be eating huge amounts of it, I thought, no I won’t be eating nowhere near that! I was wrong, especially in the last month I feel as though my appetite has doubled! No exaggeration - if I’m not training, working or sleeping, I am eating... constantly eating!


Anyway I digress... back to the training. After some down time and food, it’s time for sprint conditioning. In block one this was on the watt bikes with 2x10 x20sec sprints with 40sec recovery - that was tough - I could hardly walk afterwards. But this block changed to 100m sprints! The Monday just gone, it was 10x100m at 90% with 2mins rest between runs. The ironic thing was I said to my athletics coach when I got the news I was selected “I don’t need to run more than 50m maximum anymore now that I do skeleton”... How wrong I was! But thankfully next block those sprints have been removed and replaced with aqua running and push running on the treadmill in the lab. The latter is to condition us for the push start and will involve running for 30sec in a bent over position to strengthen/stabilise our hips for the push start. We’ve been informed by the senior athletes that this is tough; I shall look forward to that (she says through gritted teeth).


Then after that it’s time for a workshop or education session if we have one, or its home for a shower and yes, more food before I go off to work. Luckily its only a 15min cycle away from home so means I can get home super quick to have dinner (of course, food is important) and relax before going to bed and doing it all again the next morning!


Well that’s a little (and I mean little) insight into what I get up to. There’s so much more I could tell you but would need to write a book to share it all (perhaps a project for the future). I hope you have enjoyed reading and if you want to know anything more, feel free to ask. I’m looking to include a Q&A in my next blog, so if you have any questions about skeleton, the lifestyle, or anything really - I would be happy to answer them.  

Oooh! Before I go - we got the Winter Schedule of where we’ll be travelling to for our ice camps this season. For somebody who flew for the first time at phase 4 for the Austria Confirmation Camp, this is looking rather exciting... 


Camp 1: October 14th-October 30th - Lillehammer, Norway 

Camp 2: November 18th-November 26thAltenberg, Germany 

Camp 3: December 9th December 22ndWinterberg, Germany 

Camp 4: January 13th-January 20th - St Moritz, Switzerland 

Camp 5: February 1st-February 17thKönigssee, Germany 

Camp 6: February 18th-March 4thIgls, Austria 

Camp 7: March 17th-March 31st - Lake Placid, America 

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