Road to Rio: A Day in the Life of Michelle Konkoly

When I was a patient in Day Rehab at Magee Riverfront learning to walk again, I felt like I was pretty much working out as hard as I possibly could for six hours a day, five days a week. When I finally got home each night, I was exhausted and just wanted to eat and sleep. Well, training full-time for the Paralympics is actually pretty similar! Here’s a glimpse into what a typical day looks like for me:

5:30 – 7:15 am – I’m up before the sun to get in my first swim of the day. Typically, my morning practices are resistance-based, which means we swim with parachutes attached to our waists for extra drag! It’s definitely tough but it’s a lot of short, fast sprints, which I love! On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I lift in the mornings instead of swim. My trainer is really creative and finds ways to adapt certain exercises that are difficult for me, like lunges. Dryland is a huge part of my training: getting stronger on land means I’m getting faster in the pool!

7:30 am – I come home and wake up my puppy, Ollie. He’s an 8-month-old corgi, and we’re best buds. We go for a walk, then I make a huge breakfast, usually either a smoothie or a fruit, yogurt, and granola bowl.

8:30 – 10 am – If I’m lucky, I can catch a nap! Often times, I spend this time doing emails. I travel at least once a month for competitions or other events, so I spend a lot of time planning flights and hotels, too.

11 am – 2 pm – I grab a snack and then head off to work at a chocolate shop! It might not be the typical job of a professional athlete, but it’s a lot of fun and a good way to earn some extra money.

3 – 4 pm – Ollie and I go for another walk, then I spend some time preparing for afternoon practice. My legs often cramp up when I swim because of the nerve damage, so I am very diligent about stretching and foam rolling. I also do some core exercises to keep my back in alignment, since the rods and screws in my spine combined with my slight limp can give me back pain if I don’t manage it.

4:30 – 6:15 pm – Back to the pool for another workout. I swim with a club team, so most of my training partners are high schoolers. I’m the only Paralympic athlete on the team, but I’m able to keep up with my able-bodied teammates! It’s fun to swim with a big group so we can all motivate each other.

6:30 pm – Time for dinner! I usually make a big batch of quinoa salad at the beginning of the week and have that for dinner each night. For dessert, I love to make ‘milkshakes’ out of frozen bananas and peanut butter. I pretty much eat for a straight hour, then collapse on the couch to read for a bit.

9 pm – I get to bed early so I can wake up recharged to do this all over again tomorrow! With less than 200 days to go until the Paralympics begin, I’ve got to make every day count!

You can follow my daily adventures on Twitter and Instagram, too! (@michellekonkoly)


Shoulder strengthening dryland exercises at the gym.


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