By Callie Caplan
The Dallas Morning News
Michelle Carter can’t control when she’ll return to her track-and-field norm.
The 2016 Olympic shot put gold medalist knows her pursuit of the Tokyo Games is postponed to 2021. She doesn’t have consistent access to her gym and field, either.
In the weeks since the COVID-19 coronavirus has altered daily life, Carter, an alumna of Red Oak High School, focused instead on what she can dictate: her mental well-being, community involvement and accomplishing tasks she otherwise would’ve ignored in an Olympic year.
That’s made for a busy schedule of “garage workouts” in what will soon become her newly decorated home gym, brand and endorsement opportunities through social media and virtual communication with friends and followers as she looks toward earning a fourth Olympic berth — just a year later than expected.
“I’ve been doing things I always wanted to do,” Carter said, “but never had the time to do.”
Before the coronavirus prompted global health and economic upheaval, forcing organizers to postpone the 2020 Games, Carter had arranged a detailed schedule.
The months leading up to the Olympics would’ve included several track meets, including the Texas Relays in late March and the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials in late June. Carter had several speaking engagements planned across the country, too.
Most every day, 34-year-old Carter would’ve spent time with her dad and coach, Michael, at Kincaide Stadium to practice shot put and at local gyms to condition.
Now, Carter has turned to virtual public speaking — including Wednesday in a workshop series with Dallas Influencers in Sports and Entertainment — and at-home throwing drills and exercises because Ellis Davis Field House, adjacent to Kincaide Stadium, has become a coronavirus testing site.
“To not be throwing right now, it’s really weird,” Carter said. “It’s like, ‘What do I do with myself?’ So that’s where I come in with the at-home workouts and do drills and just kind of work on the small things at home.”
That means Carter has had time Wednesday to test her juicer for the first time.
Carter ordered new wallpaper for her home office and paint to decorate her garage, which will transform into a home gym when the Olympic weightlifting bar she found via crowdsourcing on Instagram arrives in the mail.
Carter is testing recipes from Pinterest and has developed a new workout regimen: four days a week of running a mile, lifting and ab exercises and two days of long walks with her husband, Courtney Elder.
Outside of her daily track and field routine, Carter has continued to stay involved with her brands, including Nike.
That her Nike sponsors her through a year-round contract lessens her concern over canceled opportunities to earn bonus and performance-related sponsorship that some other Olympic athletes rely on for basic expenses, Carter said.
She has also given speeches via Zoom and has worked with local hospitals to promote mental health and well-being through specific programs and on her social media channels.
“Even though we’re confined into our homes,” Carter said, “there’s still things we can do to learn and enjoy.”
Think you have what it takes to exercise like an Olympic gold medalist, the first American woman to win shot-put gold?
Carter shared one of her new home workout routines with The Dallas Morning News.
To start: Carter warms up with a mile run.
Then: a body weight circuit.
Go through each exercise on the list, take a one-minute break and repeat three to four times:
— Three-way lunges (front, side and back): 20 each, on each leg
— Push ups: 20
— Body squats: 20
— Dips: 20
— Bridges: 20
To finish: Pick eight ab exercises, and do 30 reps each.
Carter performs her typical cardio, strength and ab circuits four times a week, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Every Wednesday and Saturday, she and her husband walk four miles. She also practices throwing drills in her driveway.
When the coronavirus-related restrictions on Dallas-area gyms and fitness options first began, Carter owned only a set of dumbbells that went from five to 25 pounds.
“I’m like, ‘OK, Michelle, you lift way more than this,’” she said. “We’re going to have to do better.”
Carter has since purchased an Olympic weightlifting bar online to use in her garage.
But including body-weight exercises in her daily conditioning — now more than a year out from the rescheduled Olympics — has been “kind of testing my athletic skills a little bit more.”