U.S. Olympic track star Dalilah Muhammad looks forward to competing with Sydney McLaughlin, Britton Wilson and others as she inspires...26 July 2022 Cheribundi Marketing
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With two of the best sprinters in history going head-to-head, the women’s 400-meter hurdles has been one of the most exciting events to watch in recent years.
In 2019, Dalilah Muhammad set a new standard by shattering a 16-year-old world record in the rain at the USATF Outdoor Championships.
So, when it came time for a rematch at the USATF Outdoor Championships in June, all eyes were on the history-making duo. But in the days leading up to nationals, Muhammad surprised the running world when she withdrew from the meet in Eugene, Oregon.
Two weeks before the U.S. championships, the 2016 Olympic champion injured her hamstring during a training session. Muhammad was sprinting out of the blocks when she felt a slight tear in the muscle right before reaching the first hurdle. “Sometimes with injuries, you get a little warning, you know things may feel off or you're kind of hurting and like maybe you can push through it, but it was really none of that,” Muhammad said, explaining that dehydration may have led to the unexpected tear. “It was kind of a freak accident.”
The world champion received a waiver from USATF that allowed her to sit out of the national championships and accept her bye into the World Athletics Championships in Eugene. Usually defending world champions with a bye have to complete at least one round at nationals. On June 25, McLaughlin clinched the U.S. title and lowered the world record again, running 51.41.
For the last few weeks, Muhammad has focused on honing her recovery regimen and leaning on mental tools to carry her through to the world championships, which begin on July 15. “It's a little bit of an uncomfortable position not having as many races as I would like, but this is where I think experience comes into my favor,” she said.
Before Muhammad left her training base in Fort Worth, Texas to fly to Eugene, she caught up with Runner’s World to discuss her recovery process. Here's how the star hurdler handled the ill-timed injury and geared up for the biggest meet of the season.
After the injury, Muhammad withdrew from two competitions, a race on June 12 and the U.S. championships, to let her leg heal. While the decision to withdraw from nationals was a difficult one for Muhammad, who has won four U.S. titles, the Team USA veteran focused on her long-term health and goals for the season.
“The competitor inside me just wants to race and get after it,” Muhammad said. “I tried to play it smart though and just do what was best for the future.”
Right after the injury happened, Muhammad flew to Portland, Oregon to seek treatment from her chiropractor, who helped prevent scar tissue from building up, she said.
In addition to maintaining her regular routine of stretching and using recovery tools like ice baths, heating pads, and Normatec boots, Muhammad also increased her nutritional supplement intake. In the morning, she puts amino acids and vitamin C into her daily shake. She also puts a scoop of collagen in her coffee. After practice ends around noon, she drinks Cheribundi Pure Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate to help aid her body in rebuilding muscle during the recovery process. Before she goes to bed, Muhammad drinks Cheribundi Sleep, a blend of cherry juice with melatonin.
“Internally, I like to make sure I'm getting what my body needs,” she said.
After healing from various setbacks in the past, including previous hamstring injuries and a COVID diagnosis in 2021, Muhammad leans heavily on her mental game to cope throughout the recovery process. And this experience was no different.
“No matter what happens to you, the body can heal from it,” she said. “I've just been taking it day by day, mentally doing what I can do and letting the body take the time it needs.”
Muhammad relies on the support system she's built around her, especially her coach Lawrence “Boogie” Johnson. While resuming training, Muhammad said Johnson has collaborated with her on designing workouts that help her feel comfortable in the comeback process. He will approach her before a workout and ask what pace she can run that day. “[Johnson] trusts that the answers I'm going to give are exactly what I can do,” Muhammad said. “He trusts that I know how much my body can handle at the moment.”
For example, during the week of the U.S. championships, Johnson asked her what pace she could hold that day for her first workout session since the injury took place. Muhammad told him she could run 40 seconds for 200 meters. So, Johnson had Muhammad run 40 seconds on and 40 seconds off for a total of 16 200-meter repeats. He's asked her the same question every day since, and they've designed workouts based on how she's feeling day-by-day.
Now feeling recovered, Muhammad will return to the track on July 19 for the first round of the 400-meter hurdles at the world championships, where she aims to put her preparation together and defend her title.
“I think the world is wanting to see where I'm at, and I'm right there with them,” she said. “I feel good in training, but it's always different when you step on that track and race. I'm expecting the experience aspect to take over.”
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