U.S. Olympic track star Allyson Felix races today in the 200 meter finals, but before she hopped on a plane to London, I sat down for a chat with the 26-year-old sprinter about power breakfasts (and splurge foods!) and how she stays motivated day in and day out.
How do you keep your energy up, what with all the racing you’re doing?
I think the biggest thing is making sure I eat a good breakfast. Like anyone, when I’m so busy, I struggle to make the time. I’ll say, “I don’t have a moment to sit down and eat.” But doing so is what helps me. Plus, you’re taking a little time for yourself in the morning, which is a good thing.
Do you have a favorite power breakfast?
Oatmeal. That’s kind of like my go-to. It’s easy, it doesn’t take a lot of time to make, and it has carbohydrates to get me through the day.
Do you put any toppings on it?
I’m so boring! I don’t add any toppings. Just milk and some sugar.
So obviously oatmeal is super-healthy. But do you have a favorite splurge food?
Oh, of course. I love ice cream, and my favorite right now is Ben and Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Chunk. It’s really good.
Speaking of indulgences, how do you keep from not going overboard—like ordering a creamy, over-the-top dish at dinner?
It’s all about having a plan. So if I know, “This is what I need to be eating today,” then that’s a good guideline for me. It’s hard to stick to it, but I make Wednesday my splurge day. I often think, “Just get through it—Wednesday is coming!” For me, it helps to have some type of goal.
With running goals, how do you stay motivated to keep at them, day in and day out?
It can be hard some times. I always remind myself of my goals, and think of my competitors and what they’re doing. Also, I enjoy the people I train with, which makes working out social. And I think that can work for everyone--instead of meeting a friend for lunch or dinner, maybe go for a run. It makes exercising fun, so you'll want to do more of it.
How do you stay calm on race day? Clearly, there’s a crazy amount of pressure when you're competing at a professional level.
There is. And you know what, I’m always nervous. All throughout the day. Always.
So you get nervous, just like the rest of us before a big event?
I think if I wasn’t nervous, it would be so strange to me. But once I step onto the track, I’m in my element, and that comforts me, and I feel more confident. I try to focus on technical things, like being powerful and aggressive, and that helps me get in the zone and block out everything else that’s going on around me.
And do you listen to a song, or anything to get into race-mode?
Not as specific song, but I like to listen to Jay-Z to get pumped up. Whatever is the new song is out at the time.
After a big day of practice, how to you ease your sore muscles?
I take an ice bath. Even though it’s really not fun for the first couple of minutes, it really works. Also, a hot bath with Epsom salts is nice. I soak and relax--that’s my favorite thing.
And you can justify it like, “this is for work!”
I know [laughs], like "I need this for my job!"