Julie Jenkins Donley's preparation for the upcoming U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials have been a decidedly domestic affair. Workouts have been overseen by coach/husband Milan and their 2-year-old daughter, Hailey, who fiddles with stopwatches, plays in the sand of the long jump pit and cheers for mom.

"Run fast, mommy!" Hailey shouts as Donley races past them on the track. "Go, mommy, go!"Clearly, times have changed for Donley. "My life is not just track anymore," she says, and there is no regret in her voice. She is not quite so devoted to track as she once was, and she has found this surprising.

"I didn't realize before I had my child how much she'd take over my life," says Donley from her Fayetteville, Ark., home. "I love being with her. I tell people to think of the greatest thing they've done in their life and then times it by 2,000. It's the most rewarding thing I've done, better than being in the Olympics."

Donley, a Utah-born-and-raised cowgirl from Plain City who became a national champion 800-meter runner at BYU and an Olympian, was as intense and singleminded as any athlete, but these days much of her dedication and time is spent elsewhere.

"I didn't have my daughter so someone else could raise her," she says.

Nevertheless, with the Olympics on the horizon, Donley, 31, has tried to whip herself into top shape this year, while also cutting her daily workouts from four or five hours (pre-baby) to 2 1/2 or three hours. After giving birth on March 17, 1994, she resumed her track career last year with little success. She failed to make the national rankings or qualify for the finals at the national championships.

"She nursed Hailey through the national championships," says Milan. "It took its toll. She had a 1-year-old and she was trying to train and race. It was too much."

During last winter's indoor season, Donley finally regained her old form, placing second in the 800 at the national indoor championships in Atlanta with a solid time of 2:01.16. Hampered by a foot injury, she has raced only four times outdoors, with top-three finishes in the last three, all with times in the 2:01-2:02 range.

Given her quiet outdoor season and her modest performance the last two years, Donley has been largely overlooked by track aficionados heading into the Olympic trials, which begin Friday in Atlanta. Track & Field News picked her to finish fifth.

But Donley has been here before. She faced even bigger odds heading into the 1992 Olympic trials and still made the team.

Her troubles that year actually began in the summer of 1991, when Donley was struck by a van while walking across a New York street to catch a bus to the national championships. If her coat pocket hadn't snagged on the van's grill, she would have fallen under the wheels; instead, she was dragged for some 20 yards. She was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, but it was months before doctors realized the full scope of her injuries: a hairline fracture of the fibula, a damaged hip and bulging and herniated discs, which required surgery.

Donley couldn't resume running until just a few months before the trials, and even then she had to do most of it in a pool. Her first few races, in which she produced pedestrian times of 2:11, 2:09, 2:08, almost convinced her to skip the Olympic trials, but two weeks before the race she ran 2:03 and decided to enter the meet. Miraculously, she placed second with a time of 1:59.15 - four seconds faster than her previous best that year - to make the Olympic team.

At the Olympics in Barcelona, she was running with the lead pack with 300 meters to go when she was spiked from behind. She faded to last place with a bloody ankle and failed to make the finals.

Donley has been rarely heard from since then. In 1993, she took third in the national championships to earn the right to represent the U.S. at the world track championships, but she gave up her spot on the team when she learned she was pregnant.

As a result, Donley's running career during the last five years has consisted almost entirely of two extended comebacks, from the accident and her pregnancy.

"She's adjusted (to motherhood) this year," says Milan, an assistant track coach at the University of Arkansas. "Hailey's older, and Julie's been able to get back into her routine. She goes to the track with us all the time. We can take her to the track, and Julie doesn't have to worry about her."

Perhaps now Donley can realize her considerable potential. Before the accident and the pregancy, she was one of America's rising middle-distance runners. She was a six-time small-college national champion for Adams State and the 1987 NCAA 800-meter champion for BYU.

In 1988, she broke two minutes for the first time in the 800 and almost certainly would have made the Olympic team if not for poor racing tactics at the trials. When the field surged with 300 meters to go, she panicked and launched a full sprint, only to tie up in the stretch and fade to fifth place. She also placed fifth in the 1,500 later in the meet.

In 1990, Donley ranked seventh in the world and produced a breakthrough time of 1:57.82, still the fifth fastest ever by an American. But a year later, she was struck down in a New York crosswalk.

"Things are coming around," says Milan. "She hasn't raced a lot outdoors this year, but that was our plan. Her strength is there, and her speed is coming around. Physically, I think she's back to where she used to be."

In Atlanta, Donley will face perhaps the strongest 800-meter field in U.S. history, including Meredith Rainey, Joetta Clark, Amy Wickus, Suzy Hamilton and Alisa Hill.

"To make the team, I think it's going to take 1:58," says Milan.

At the trials, the 800 will consist of heats on Friday, semifinals on Saturday and the final on Monday.

"I wanted to try to make the team after I had the baby so I didn't have regrets," says Donley. "I thought anything could happen in '92. Anything could happen this time."