Day in the life of a Westmont athlete: Meet Jarad Harper

Kelli Burell, Staff Writer

Third-year student Jarad Harper runs for Westmont’s track team, participating in sprinting events such as the 100 meter, 200 meter, 4×1 and 4×4. Harper is an economics and business major, taking four classes this semester on top of track practice five days a week. Harper ran us through what a normal day looks like for him. 

According to Harper, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. He starts each day with a high-protein breakfast of a protein shake, eggs, oatmeal or a breakfast burrito.

Harper said, “Every morning I make sure to get up and eat breakfast, even if I just plan on going back to sleep right after. Last year I didn’t always eat breakfast and I would feel it during practice.”

Prior to practice, Harper eats a small meal or snack to keep things light before running and training. Track practice starts at 3:30pm sharp, but runners are advised to arrive around 3:20 to complete temperature checks and answer questions to ensure everyone is safe during this season of COVID-19.

Each day of practice is a little different in terms of what the athletes do. Harper provided an overview of a typical week of practice: 

On Mondays, track athletes have a “shake out,” which Harper explained as a regeneration for the body. This includes a smooth-paced run and other workouts that aren’t super vigorous.

Tuesdays incorporate more speed work, like exceleration and running much faster. Harper described the type of lifts they do on these days as “explosive.”

Fridays ‘are the worst day of my life … It’s special endurance, which always brings me anxiety because you know you’re going to die.’”

— JARAD HARPER

There is no official practice on Wednesday, but the coaches encourage athletes to take an “active recovery” day: a day to do some type of workout or activity that is easy on the knees and joints. Some of these workouts include swimming, hiking and riding a stationary bike.

Thursdays involve more plyometrics, exercises that develop that explosive quality Harper described. These workouts specifically help those on the track team improve their jumping.

With both a laugh and a cringe, Harper said that Fridays “are the worst day of my life … It’s special endurance, which always brings me anxiety because you know you’re going to die.”

Special endurance training is designed to improve runners’ stamina, expand their lung capacity, and strengthen their aerobic fitness. 

Though the training is difficult, Harper explained, “The special endurance builds a foundation so that when we’re sprinting and get tired, we have that special endurance to kick in and keep us going in a race, especially in the 400 meter.”

Saturdays vary, but Harper said the track team usually does a body build circuit or a lift using body weight, things like pull-ups and push-ups. Finally, Sunday is a complete rest day.

When Harper isn’t on the track, he enjoys going to the beach with his friends, chilling in his room and watching movies, and going on hikes. His favorite hike in Santa Barbara so far is Tangerine Falls, a short drive from campus. Harper’s roommate is also an athlete, so they often enjoy just relaxing in their room and recuperating from practice. 

In spite of COVID-19, Harper feels that he has more-or-less been able to practice normally. 

Harper added, “We can still train and that’s what I’m really thankful for. Yes, we have to wear a mask, keep our distance, be smart … But I feel like [the season] is still pretty similar to what it was.”