Aisha Praught-Leer is the 2018 Commonwealth Games steeplechase gold medalist, the Jamaican record holder in the event and training partner to 2017 steeplechase world champion Emma Coburn. The Jamaican-American citizen and Illinois native is currently preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, where she hopes to compete in the 1,500m.
Praught-Leer is an Under Armour athlete who’s made enormous improvements over the past three years since joining Coburn and her husband Joe Bosshard in Boulder, Colo. Their training group, recently dubbed Team Boss, is turning out some of the best results in the business and started with these two women.
Her Canadian connection
While Praught-Leer isn’t Canadian, she does have a connection to the country through her stepdad. “My father’s Jamaican and my mom’s American, but she remarried a man whose parents are Canadian. Both of his grandparents were from P.E.I., which is kind of cool. I remember going to Ontario as a kid for a family reunion when I was young.”
The training group
Praught-Leer made the move to Boulder in January 2017 to join Coburn and her husband in their (at the time) very new training group. Praught says that she and Emma “just clicked.” This is her third year with the group and everything about it has been better than she could’ve imagined. “I had about six weeks of training with Joe [Bosshard]’s workouts before moving to Boulder. And then it took me about two months of living in Boulder before being able to complete the same workouts as Emma. Between the new training and altitude it was hard. For a while it was like, if Emma had 1K repeats, I had 800m repeats.”
But it’s not just training that’s gone well for Praught-Leer, it’s also the social dynamic that she’s come to love. “I’ve never been this close to a training partner before. I didn’t anticipate this friendship. When I moved we became really close, really quickly. And we’re lucky to have this because we spend long periods of time together doing everything from cooking to running to just hanging out. So it’s a good thing that we get along so well.”
Praught-Leer says that Team Boss makes their hard days very hard and their easy days very easy. She explains, “We’ll do a morning workout, a big lift and second run all in one day. That’s three days a week and the weights are heavy. Gym work is big for our group. And then the easy days are really easy. On those days I run for 60 minutes and that’s about it. But before every run I do about 10 minutes of activation drills, no matter how easy the day.”
Sunday – long run and an hour in the gym
Monday – easy day
Tuesday – track-specific workout, an hour in the gym, second run
Wednesday – easy day
Thursday – easy day (but with two runs)
Friday – aerobic workout, an hour in the gym, second run
Saturday – easy day
The runner has made the move from the steeplechase to the 1,500m for 2020 and hopes to land herself in the Olympic final. She says that Under Armour, her sponsor, has played a huge role in helping her to feel prepared for the year ahead. “I think UA is different in the way that they interact with their pros. They want to help us directly. They set up this huge training centre in Portland where we can go to get sleep, recovery and body mechanics looked at. It’s a wholistic approach.”
Praught-Leet also had the opportunity to help design a spike that’s coming out this year. “When I signed with Under Armour one of the first things we did was get to work designing this spike. So I’m not just confident with the support they give me but also I’m confident in what I’ve got on my feet.” Outside of the spikes she’s helped design, her favourite piece of gear are her UA Rush tights. “They’re my go-to piece of clothing. I’m obsessed.”
Praught-Leer has decided to forgo her indoor season in favour of taking the time to get her body firing on all cylinders. “I’ve spent the last two months working on getting my body completely healthy and physically stronger. I’m spending a ton of time in the gym and reduced my mileage to accommodate that. I just want to make sure I’m totally healthy so that there won’t be any interruptions in the lead-up to Tokyo.”
Next up for Team Boss is a trip to Boston this weekend for some indoor racing.