After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?
Honestly, I just love running. Win or lose, doesn't change that. I love pushing my body and challenging myself physically and mentally. Running isn't just something I do. It's a huge part of who I am and it truly has become a lifestyle. Not running takes a lot more out of me. Ask anyone who's known me during my "off season". I'm an unpleasant, borderline manic person to be around. Running holds me together. It's the only way I know myself.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?
Getting up and going to practice is not an option. If I'm feeling good, I go. Busy with errands, I go. Sick, I go. Sad, I go. Holidays, I go. It is not the "going" to practice that requires motivation. Anyone can go to the track everyday and still be accepting mediocracy. I refuse to waste my time going through the motions and allowing mediocrity to creep into my life. If I'm having a particularly blah day, I play with my senses to reconnect my body to my mental focus. I listen to some good, upbeat music. Sound has a huge impact on how we feel. I sniff mint (aromatherapy mint stick I keep in my bag) because mint awakens the mind. It can stimulate energy. I often take a deep breath and try to find three things I'm super thankful for; my selfless coach George Williams, good weather (no one wants soggy sneakers from rainy practice days), my health, my funny training partners, a good breakfast... The list goes on. I try to focus on three great things about this day and this moment. It's uplifting! I try my best to cultivate the act of being grateful. Being grateful for parts of practice breeds a positive mental state. And only positive mental states perform at their best.
On average, how many times and miles do you run a month?
I don't keep track of mileage. I don't know any sprinters who do. But, I run 5 to 6 days a week depending on the time of year. It's important to capitalize and utilize rest days. They can be equally as important as workouts.
What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?
In high school, I accidentally took my racing bottoms off with my warm ups when they called us to the line. I walked to the starting line for a 1500m in thong underwear. Many many years later, I was on a long run once and had a bus drive pass me that had a picture of me on the side. I laughed hysterically.
What are your favorite types of fuel for running and why?
I'm a huge fan of caffeine. I actually hate that I like it so much. I don't like feeling like I need anything in order to bring my "A" Game but I do feel that I usually have a better workout if I've incorporated caffeine in my morning. Run Gum is a great way to get caffeine on the go and to chew while I run, if so desired. I also drink coffee and 5 Hour energy if necessary.
What's your favorite cheat food & drink?
I don't really have "cheat" days. Cheat days are for people on diets. I don't believe in diets. I believe in life style changes. In the last 6 months, I've tried my best to eat vegetarian. It's been extremely difficult for me. Not only because i like the taste of meat, but because I'm subsequently perpetually hungry. For me, being vegetarian is a moral obligation. Eating meat makes me feel like an active participant in the horrific ways in which animals are both raised and slaughtered. My morals don't suddenly take a back seat to the fact that it's a saturday, ya know? Being vegetarian is my current primary focus... that doesn't mean I can't kill an entire box of Krispy Kreme donuts in one sitting. Eating 3,000 calories worth of donuts is far from healthy. I don't indulge in it often, but I have been known to on rare occasion. My physical therapy staff gave me a box of donuts last year for my birthday. I ate all twelve in less than ten minutes. Whatever it is that I'm doing, I go all in.
Do you like ice baths? Why or why not?
I don't know anyone who likes ice baths purse'. I always say that ice baths are like stairs... no matter how strong your are or how frequently you do them, they never get easier. But like any other method of recovery treatment I think that ice baths have their place. Like most things I do, how things feel or taste don't dictate whether I partake in them or not. If my coach tells me to ice bath, I do it. If he told me that eating dirt would make me faster, I'd eat dirt; breakfast lunch and dinner. I do think that some people over use ice baths. It's important for your body to learn how to run through soreness and how to handle pain and recovery without external assistance. Everything, food, play, working out, rest, icing, epsom... everything needs to be in moderation. I think it's important not to force your body to rely on anything. For me, ice baths are good once a week.
What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?
Fail Forward. Whatever setbacks you have along the way, use them to propel you forward. Always forward. You can not be the same athlete you were yesterday. It's important to be able to take something from every lesson, good or bad. You can't change yesterday, but you can use the lessons of yesterday to propel your tomorrow.
What is your favorite running accomplishment so far?
My favorite running accomplishment is my continual ability to remain unbroken. When you love something so much you dedicate your life to it, it has the innate ability to break your heart. Running has broken my heart a dozen times but I've always managed to remain unbroken as a person. Running is so personal to me. It's hard to differentiate where running ends and I begin. You tend to start weighing your self worth by the sum of your wins and losses. As I got older, I realized how unhealthy it was to define my value in this way. I could tell you that I've never been more proud than I was the first time I put on a Brooks Running jersey at the USA National Championships and got third in the final. The same weekend I signed my contract and was the only white sprinter in the USA. But titles like that, they didn't change how I saw myself. You could win a gold medal at the Olympics and still have a broken heart behind your smile. The thing I love most about running is how, through time, it reveals the most vulnerable parts of us, to ourselves. If you're brave enough to look into yourself, to use running as a mirror to truly see yourself and not shy away from what it reveals to you, I'd say that that's the greatest accomplishment anyone could hope for. Especially, if you manage to not let it break you.
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