Shatajah is a 400 meter sprinter. She ran collegiality for Southern Connecticut State University for 4 years. She finished off her career a 16 time All-American and 1 time Champ in the D2 Indoor Nationals 4x400 meters. She currently trains and run for ALTIS in Phoenix, Arizona. She has been running for 10 years. Her grandfather got her into running. Her coach is Kevin Tyler, President of Altis.
After all that you accomplished, what drives you to continue running?
Being able to inspire and show people that they are capable of achieving their dreams. Allowing them to see it is possible when they take that leap of faith. It may seem scary and a little crazy but, that’s the beauty of chasing your dreams. Being able to chase after what makes me happy and people being able to connect is what keeps me going. Also, I have a little munchkin, so being able to go to training and become the best version of me for him, makes it all worth it.
How do you motivate yourself on days when you don't feel like running?
Reminding myself why I am doing this. Why I drove across the country. Remembering the people who believe in my wild dream. That truly drives me. Yes, there are days where I just want to sleep in but remembering that the work I can put in today will benefit me later down the road.
What are your goals for the upcoming year?
I just finished my 2019 season. I ended my season at the USATF Championships, which was a huge goal I wanted to make. 10 months post baby, I wasn’t sure what this season was going to look like. The only goal that I had was to keep trusting the process, keep the vision clear and be my best.
You've recently returned to competing after having a child, what was that first race experience like?
Oh man! The first race was terrifying! It felt completely out of my norm. I’ve raced so many times and my first race post baby felt like super scary. There were so many things going through my head as soon as I woke up. I even tried to convince myself I wasn’t ready. I doubted myself a ton before that race. My adrenaline rush was so high during warm up, I was beyond nervous and tired before I even raced. Sounds silly but it’s true. Right before I got in the blocks. I just reminded myself that I’ve been here before. I know this race. I know the work I’ve put in. Just do what you gotta do. Get to the line. And then the gun went off. It was the 400 meter race so it was going to hurt any way. But after finishing it felt like a huge relief that I got the first race done.
Did you train while you were pregnant?
When I found out I was pregnant I was already 3 months. I was actually training and racing in my indoor season. I had no idea. It was right before the USATF indoor championships, I had gotten accepted to race in the 400 meter, but I pulled out. After finding out, I just dialed down my workouts to grass runs, a lot of tempo and mobility work, just to help my body remember how it feels. That definitely helps coming back. I stopped training around 5 months but still stayed a little active with hikes and walking.
What has been your most memorable race to date and why?
Oh, I actually have two. My first was when my 4x400 meter relay won our first indoor national title in 2015. It was a time to remember. That year we were crushing it. We won conference and New England for the 4x400m relay, and going into nationals we were sitting in 1st place. We knew that the St. Augustine and Johnson C Smith teams were going to come for us. So we all took the challenge and pulled together for the national title. That was by far the best experience ever. My second was the 2017 NCAA D2 nationals. I had gotten injured the year before and I wasn’t sure if my last year would be successful or not. But I gave it a go and became a 400 meter runner. I was able to make the outdoor nationals for the 400 meter which was totally odd for me to do. I actually hated the race. I made it to the finals with a school record and sitting in 3rd place. I finished 3rd and had a huge PR that I’ve even had in my seasons running the 400 meter, 52.5 seconds. I didn’t realize when I ran until I looked over at my grandfather and he was screaming out my time. Totally couldn’t hear him. So I looked out to the clock and saw 52.5, and I lost it. Watching his face light up at my last and his last college nationals was the best ever.
What does your weight training consist of and which exercise do you feel helps your running the most?
I like to believe that I am still a 100 and 200 meter sprinter. I like a lot of fast and quick workouts and runs. This year coming back from having a baby, I focused on longer distance and getting some strength training down. I hate to say this but what helps the most is 250 to 300 meter workouts. I can switch them up to become an intense or low base workout. It's definitely helped me improve my weakest areas during the 400 meters race.
What's the weirdest or funniest thing that ever happened to you while running?
Oh man, 2016 nationals of course, the 4x400 meter race I was anchor leg. I received the baton with a group of girls. We all were clustered together on the first turn. Some how a girl fell right in front of me and I either had to jump on her and hurt her or jump over her and haul ass to stay in the race. It was a split second decision but I had to choose what I was going to do. I jumped over her hoping it was far enough and it kind of had a domino affect on the other racers. But, it was nationals, everyone is for themselves.
What's your favorite types of fuel for running and why?
Coconut water has helped a ton this season. I try to keep the house loaded with it. I’m based in Arizona so it gets super hot, super fast. I always have to find different ways to stay healthy and hydrated. Also during my workouts I take Thorne-Amino Acids to help me through workouts and post workouts.
What's your favorite cheat food & drink?
Turkey burgers and fries for the win...and Coconut Water.
Have you considered the World Marathon Challenge? Why or why not?
Yes, 7 marathons, 7 continents, 7 days is my kind of thing, but it costs a fortune, so I’d need a very generous sponsor to cover it.
What distance has been your favorite to race and why?
My favorite race would be the 200 meters. I feel like I have the speed from the 100 meters and the strength from the 400 meters to make the 200 meters a really good race. Also, it’s a fun race because it’s quick and fun to execute.
Do you prefer the 400 meter solo or relay?
That’s a trick question. I would choose both. The relay is always a fun race to watch and race because of the team environment. You’re having a blast with each other and it doesn’t feel intimidating. But the open 400 meter, is solely you. You are responsible for executing your race plan. Your mental and physical strength shows through how you put the race together and that’s the best feeling ever.
What would you say is the hardest part about being on a relay team?
The hardest part would be letting your teammates down. If you’re having an off meet and you bring that into the relay race it could affect not only you but your relay team.
Do you like ice baths?
Who does?! But I do have to like them. They help for recovery days after a hard workout session or lift session. I’ve done ice baths before a race and after. I found it benefits a ton for recovering through injury and general treatment.
In your free time when you’re not running, what other hobby’s do you enjoy?
Well I am a full time mommy. Most of my day after training is running after my little one. But I also love eating and cooking. I would cook all day and eat all day if I could. I also do love art. I love drawing and creating pieces of art in my free time.
What's the most important tip you like to give new runners?
Have fun with what you’re doing. Hobby or profession, have fun. You want to enjoy your life as much as possible. Explore different avenues and take risks. Take the leap of faith and try a new run workout. If it hurts, you know what you have to change or fix next time you come back to the workout. Life is a learning experience. Enjoy learning your strengths and allow your weaknesses to appear so you can kick their butt. Either way you’ll be strong.
When it comes to running, what would you say is your biggest strength and weakness?
My weakness is thinking too much. I over think and hold back myself a lot! If I see a new workout, I start doubting my ability of being able to do it. The mind is a powerful tool, I sometimes forget that. My strengths are taking risks and just going after it. I have so much ambition and excitement that if and when I go after something, I just do it. Whatever outcome happens, we’ll, it happens. You live and you learn. With my workouts I get super nervous and doubt myself. Before I go for a run I tell myself “just go, see what happens” and I run better than I thought I’d do. Trusting myself and the process is my daily reminding.
Who is someone you look up to in the sport?
Alyson Felix. She has always been one of my inspirations. Throughout college and now as a mother. After hearing she had a baby, I definitely connected to her a lot more. Being able to connect with someone during my struggle and trials coming back to train after having a baby. Experiencing similar issues and passions. I felt truly heard and not alone. My passion is to inspire people to never give up and she has helped me as well. Also, she’s absolutely beautiful.
If you could compete in one Field event, which would you choose?
High jump for sure. I like that rush and risk that takes place when you launch from the ground to a back flip. I tried it in high school and let’s just say...I decided to stick with running.
What's next for Shatajah Maximin?
Well, I feel like i just got started. There is a little light in me that still hasn’t fully sparked yet. I’m still growing and learning this new journey in my career. I am excited to tap into something great. I am aspiring to compete at the 2020 Olympic trials! I have huge goals for making the team and I am praying for sponsors.
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