A Day in the Life of a Track Star


Junior Emily Simko and freshman Lily DiCola at state championships where they and junior Brian DiCola competed.

Our three track stars–junior Emily Simko, junior Brian DiCola, and freshman Lily DiCola–have found their stride!

Emily and Lily competed at the PTFCA State Championships on Sunday, Feb. 27. Emily finished ninth in the mile with a time of 5:05.9 and finished 14th in the 800 meter with a time of 2:19.34.

Lily finished 8th in the 3000m with a time of 10:10.17, winning her first State Championship medal for indoor track. Having broken the school record, she is looking forward to competing at the National Indoor meet on March 11.

Brian DiCola became the 3000m State Champion this weekend at Penn State, with a time of 8:35.29. He also ran the Distance Medley Relay with seniors Aiden Scattergood, Kyle Allgeler and Jackson Royds, finishing ninth with a time of 10:44.63.

Emily, Lily and Brian are proving to be unstoppable, but what about their journeys behind the scenes? Let’s take a look at a day in the life of our running champions.


Emily starts off her morning at 6:15 a.m. with either a bagel, cereal, oatmeal or protein muffin. Her favorite part of the school day is seeing her friends, but her favorite class is Foods and Nutrition with track coach Mrs. Anna Snow.

Emily said that she has to be mindful and “make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day and eat a healthy lunch. I also eat a snack, like a granola bar, when I get to fifth period.”

After school, she goes to practice and starts warmups and drills. “My favorite things to do at practice are long runs and hill workouts. I also love going to weight training on Tuesdays and Thursdays.”

Emily (left) at states.

A long day of physical exertion requires a proper cool down. After practice, Emily makes sure to stretch. “I roll out my legs using a foam roller and use my hypervolt, an electric massager, to promote recovery. I’ll also ice my legs while I do my homework.”

In her free time, Emily likes hanging out with her friends, working at the YMCA and watching Netflix.

Then, around 9 p.m., Emily tries to start winding down for bed to make sure to get a good night’s sleep.

As for meet days, she makes sure to get good sleep. It is also crucial for her to hydrate a few days leading up to the meet. To mentally prepare, she said that she likes to visualize her races and think of what strategies she wants to use. To get pumped up, she likes to listen to her running playlist while warming up. Her favorite song is “Fergalicious” by Fergie. For good luck, she wears her lightning bolt earnings and two French braids in her hair.

She said, “During my meets, I generally feel excited, but I definitely have nerves.”

After all that hard work, she likes to celebrate her races by eating a lot of her favorite foods and relaxing with her teammates.

“Some of my favorite post-race foods are barbecue fritos, chocolate covered pretzels, lifesaver gummies and Chick-fil-A milkshakes.” 

Emily said, “My favorite thing about track is having teammates and a coach that always lifts each other up that I can have a lot of fun with!”


Brian doesn’t have a particular daily routine. He said, “I just throw a bunch of clothes into my school bag and hope it works.”

During the school day, he has to focus on drinking enough water to ensure he doesn’t get dehydrated while running. If not, he explained that he gets headaches.

Practice for Brian starts with two laps around the track and then goes into dynamic drills including high knees, toe walks, open the gates, leg swings and Frankensteins. Before a workout, he runs two miles as a warmup, and afterwards for a cooldown, he will run for 10 to 15 minutes.

Brian said that “most days are just regular runs, usually around seven miles. On most Sundays, I do my longest run of the week–around ten to twelve miles.”

He doesn’t have a nighttime routine, but he enjoys running during the night better than during the day because he gets alone time with just himself and music. Brian likes alternative rock groups including Radiohead, Arcade Fire and Bloc Party. 

“My favorite album is Dots and Loops by Stereolab. More recently, I’ve been listening to ‘trop hop,’ also known as psychedelic hip hop.”

While Brian does not have a specific routine on a regular day, his meet days are very clear-cut.

“Before a meet, I make sure I have a big breakfast. I usually have two whole wheat bagels, untoasted and unbuttered. If the meet is later in the day, I’ll also eat a sandwich for lunch.

“One hour before my race, I will take a caffeine boost and then run two miles. I follow that up with my dynamic stretches, and then I’ll run the race.”

During a meet, Brian explained that “it is pivotal to feel confident. If I don’t believe in myself, then I’ll never run to my best ability. I used to get extremely nervous before races, which would slow me down greatly.”

Brian at states. Photo credits: Milesplit.

However, after years of practice, Brian has gotten used to the pressure and the thrill.

He said, “At this point, I’ve been running for about seven years, so I’m very used to the energy a big race holds.”

After the big races, Brian enjoys buying souvenirs and celebrating in private. “I’ll listen to a bunch of songs and get myself super happy,” he added.

Brian said, “My favorite thing about track is being able to prove myself. Track is as difficult a sport as any, but it requires more mental strength than most. It just means a lot to be able to compete with some of the best runners in the state.”

Brian also added that cross country is getting low on runners, and that it would be great to have some more people try it out.

He chuckled and promised, “I swear it’s not that bad.”


Like her older brother, Lily DiCola explained that she doesn’t have a specific morning routine. She wakes up at 6:55 and tends to skip breakfast because she has A lunch at 10:15 a.m., early enough to consider breakfast.

Lily’s favorite part about her day is either her fourth period ELA class with Mrs. Kristina Ulmer or track after school. During the day, Lily said that she does not do anything to prepare for track.

At practice after school, Lily runs two laps around the F and B wing and then goes on to do drills and leg swings. If the team has a workout that day, she does a ten-minute warmup after drills and then goes on to do striders, a short distance sprint to get ready to race.

The cooldown depends on how intense the workout was and can range from 10 to 20 minutes of running. She said that a crucial part of her routine is to make sure to stretch after her runs.

At home, she does her homework and sometimes goes to Scouts BSA, previously known as Boy Scouts. Before going to bed around 9-10 p.m., she always packs her bag. “I put all my clothes and shoes for track in a separate bag, so they are ready to go.”

Lily at states.

For Lily’s meets, she goes to sleep by 9 or 9:30 p.m. In the mornings, she packs a duffle bag with temperature appropriate clothes, spikes, water and anything else she might need.

Before her meets, she likes to listen to her playlists. Her favorite songs include “The Less I Know the Better” and “Breathe Deeper” by Tame Impala, “Empire Ants” by Gorillaz, “This Charming Man” by the Smiths and “Head Home” by Midlake. 

Brian said, “Lily and I definitely have similar music taste because my dad used to play music all the time.”

As the race draws nearer, she said that she gets nervous and excited.

After the meet, she explained that “it is usually late, so I’ll get something to eat and then listen to music on a speaker.”

Lily’s favorite part about track is the people. She said, “I love my team and coaches. We all get along so well.”