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I spent yesterday on a track at the Athletes’ Performance Institute (API) in Los Angeles with some of the world’s fastest athletes. Hosted by Adidas and led by coaches from API, sprinters Allyson Felix (pictured), Veronica Campbell-Brown and Christine Ohuruogu—all medal-winning Olympians and world champions—demonstrated a variety of drills they perform before a track workout. Tyson Gay and Jeremy Wariner performed a few starts off the blocks, and distance superstar Haile Gebrselassie cranked out 4:36-minute miles (and faster) for nearly half-an-hour to help demonstrate running economy and heat distribution throughout the human body. Croatian high jumper Blanka Vlasic demonstrated a few drills required for her technical sport, and she seemed to fly over the bar without any effort. It was an impressive display of talent and skill.
Afterward, the female athletes sat down to talk to me about training, motivation and balancing athletics with life. For these professionals, skipping a workout isn’t an option, because getting faster (or jumping higher, in Vlasic’s case)—and winning—is what drives them.
But Felix didn’t always have the luxury of running as her only job. She trained for the 2008 Beijing Olympics—she won a silver in the 200 meter (Campbell-Brown won the gold) and gold in the 4×400 meter relay—while attending USC full-time. (She graduated in May with a degree in education.) Her advice for the balancing act: come up with a schedule and stick with it, no matter how much you’d like to sleep in or skip a workout. She dreads going on her weekly “long” run of 30 minutes—she’s a sprinter, remember—so she takes a non-competitive friend with her to chat and help pass the time. The key to the life juggle, says Felix: “Make it fun.”