Chayil Henderson's most important piece of track equipment is not her starting block, her spikes or a baton.
It's her heating pad.
The Bowman Academy senior has been beset by leg injuries for most of the last few years, but she's still the region's top 400-meter dash runner thanks to a regimen of heat, ice and physical therapy.
"It's a non-stop thing," Henderson said. "Every day I wake up and work out in my basement. Then I heat the leg before school. I work out at practice, then I ice it and take ibuprofen or Aleve. My physical therapist helps me with flexibility."
Henderson's outward demeanor covers the strained right hamstring well.
She is an accomplished singer, a laugh-a-minute teammate and a fierce competitor when the starter's pistol sounds.
She makes jokes, not excuses.
"I really don't have a bad day," she said. "I wake up happy; I'm always happy. I just enjoy life. I don't see why we should have any problems. We're all young, in high school and about to be in college."
Iowa State and Navy are among the institutions seeking Henderson's services. Scouts are impressed with her abilities in the 400, where she was seventh at the outdoor state meet last spring.
Surgery for a torn ACL forced her to miss her sophomore year of track, and last season she skipped the indoor state meet to rest.
This year she skipped basketball, her "first love" but also the source of two major knee injuries.
She ran third in the 55-meter dash in the Class A-3A meet at the Hoosier State Relays earlier this season, and she's aiming for state medals in the 100, 200, 400 and 400 relay June 1 in Bloomington.
"I want the state title (in the 400)," Henderson said. "I really want it. I was real close last year, and I'm just trying to get closer, if not win, and go all out for my senior year.
"(Last year) was just a statement, and now I want to build on that statement."
So far the hamstring is only a minor distraction. On Saturday at Indianapolis Howe, Henderson clocked a 59.06-second 400, the best time in the area thus far.
"She talks a lot about becoming a state champion, the first girl from Thea Bowman to win an open state championship," coach Jerae Protho said. "I try to throw that out for encouragement during hard workouts. We talk about it often.
"She's aware of her success and proud of it, but definitely not satisfied."
Unbeaten in the 400 so far, Henderson will take her talents to Kalamazoo, Mich., for the Don Lukens Invitational on Saturday.
"My family, we have the mentality that we're not going to quit," Henderson said. "We strive for our goals. We don't settle down just because we have a knee injury or hamstring injury. We keep going because we know there's something good at the end."