Track & Field Star JuVaughn Harrison Shares His 7-Step Pre-Race Formula
When you’ve earned the nickname “Mr. Jumps,” you have to be a special athlete and JuVaughn Harrison has more than proven to be just that. In 2021, he became the first American male to qualify for the Olympics in both the high jump and long jump since Jim Thorpe in 1912. Harrison would make the finals in both events, capturing seventh in the high jump and fifth place in the long jump.
As is the case with most athletes, Harrison has established a routine and a set of rituals he abides by before he competes. Fresh off of his first major championship medal — capturing silver in the high jump at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest last month — Harrison will look to punch his ticket to the Paris Games in both disciplines at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League this weekend in Eugene, OR.
M&F caught up with the Huntsville, AL, native and LSU alum to expand on some of what goes into him locking in to get ready to compete.
1. Have Fun
I consistently tell myself that if I’m not having fun, then I’m not gonna perform the way I want to. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t love what you’re doing, you shouldn’t be doing it. So whenever I get out to meet, the way I can tell if I’m going to have a good meet is if I’m jumping and bouncing around during warmups. I’m dancing, playing my music and I know it’s gonna be a good day. If I’m too serious and too quiet, then something’s wrong.
2. Mother’s Necklace
It is probably the most important piece of jewelry I own. It belonged to my mom when she ran track at Alabama A&M. It has a pendant on it that has a picture of me and her when I was a baby. She gave it to me when I turned 18. I rarely take it off. I only take it off if I’m changing what I want to have on my neck if I’m going out somewhere. Other than that, this chain never leaves my neck—or if I’m going to get it cleaned because I take my jewelry to get it polished and cleaned.
3. Pre-comp sandwich
The sandwiches change. Sometimes, I might add something to it or I might take something away from it, depending on what kind it is. I try not to eat the same thing too often because I feel like if you eat the same thing over and over, you’ll get tired of it. If I can, I’ll eat a Firehouse sub. I might get an Italian sub or I might get a Club on a Sub. I might get the Turkey Bacon Ranch or a Meatball Sub. It just depends on how I feel that day.
4. Warm Up and music
My coach has written out a warm-up regimen for me. I’ll start off with jog a lap, sometimes two depending on how I’m feeling that day. If I feel a little sluggish or like I’m not fully awake, I’ll jog two laps. If I feel like I’m wide awake, I’ll draw one lap. Then I’ll do some side shuffle and side skips — just some active mobility work.
Then I’ll stretch and I got my sprint postures — A skip, B skip, karaoke. Then I have excels and runouts. I hydrate in between that and each section has more drills than what I’m saying.
It’s not a super fast warm up. I do it moderately and it takes about 30-40 minutes. If I push it and it’s super hot outside, it’ll probably take about 45. But for the most part, my warm up takes about 30 minutes. Okay, so I’m a very big Lil Uzi Vert fan. That’s my favorite artist. I also listen to Playboi Carti, Yeat, Travis Scott, and Young Nudy. Those are the main artists that I listen to on warm-up days.
5. Red Bull
Red Bull helps me wake up. For instance, at the World Championships, we had to jump at, I want to say about 10:45 am. I could be wrong about the exact time, but I know we jumped in the morning. So I had to be up by six and I’m not a morning person. I hate being up early in the morning. For me to get up at six, I was sluggish and irritable, and I just wasn’t myself. As it progressively got closer to the time, my body started waking up, but I know that I’m sluggish in the morning. So the Red Bull helps me wake up and get my body moving.
6. No arm sleeve during comp
I’ve never had a good competition wearing an arm sleeve. I wore an arm sleeve at two meets in college and I did horrible. I’ve never put an arm sleeve on since. If I have to take pictures in it, that’s one thing. But when it comes to competition, I’m not putting an arm sleeve on.
It’s very important to me. My mom raised me to always give praise and thank God for what he’s doing for me. Whether it’s at the Diamond League competition or me with the other US high jumpers at the USA Championships or at the World Championship, an Olympic meet — I always make sure I say a prayer and give God thanks and I ask him to protect me through my competition and help me to be injury free.
Follow JuVaughn on Instagram @jaay_harrison