On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
For Allyson Felix, the only female track and field athlete to ever win six Olympic gold medals (one at 2008 Beijing, three at 2012 London and two at 2016 Rio), there’s nothing more important to her success than getting a good night’s sleep.
As a mum — she and her husband Kenneth Ferguson welcomed their daughter, Camryn, in 2018 — and multiple Olympic gold medallist, who regularly puts in 5 hours of training for 5-6 days a week, Felix understands the importance of adding good recovery techniques to her routine.
Recovery is a huge piece of my training. I really made that a priority this year.Olympian Allyson Felix Reveals Her Secret Training Weapon: Sleep | Woman’s Day
“I think when I was younger I always felt like I wanted to do as much as I could — quantity was everything — and now that I’m older, and as a mom, it’s really quality over quantity,” Felix told Woman’s Day. “It’s about training smarter. For me, being able to focus on recovery allows me to come back and get quality work the next day as well.”
On a typical training day, she’ll wake up at 6.30-7am and spend the first moments of her morning reading in the sun. “What I learned from the sleep coach is that it helps your circadian clock to expose yourself to that natural light and get that boost.”
After drinking a litre of water, she’ll usually have breakfast at around 7.30am, which might be a “smoothie made with plain Greek yogurt, juice, banana, strawberries, mangoes, chia seeds and ice.” In a 2016 profile for People about her diet, Felix explained that she wasn’t worrying about the details of her meal plan, but rather, looking at it more holistically.
“I don’t worry about counting calories, carbs or fasting. I focus on my body’s needs to succeed, which are long-lasting energy, hydration and strong, lean muscles.”
At 9am, she’ll head off to physical therapy for rehab exercises and treatment, before arriving at the track to work on her running. “I get there at 10:30 a.m. and will do an hour of warmups, stretching, drills,” Felix told ABC News. “My coach shows up then and I do a range of training (speed, tempo) so I could be there for 1-2 hours.”
For her lunch break, a typical meal might be “roasted turkey and avocado on multigrain bread, topped with lemon juice and red pepper flakes.” Around 1.30-2pm, she’ll head to the gym, where she’ll focus on lifting weights and plyometric exercises like box jumps, which help build explosive power — a super important component for sprinters.
Felix is a big fan of lifting weights, she was able to deadlift 270lbs in high school, and prefers training in the weight room over the track. “I like doing clean and jerks; I’d much rather be in the weight room doing those than out on the track,” she told Stack. “It’s fun for me, and I can take a little break between each set and catch my breath. Out on the track, I’m getting worked into the ground.”
For dinner, her biggest meal of the day, Felix likes to include a lot of fish and red meat. An example dinner might be: “Lemon-garlic shrimp with a cup of brown rice,” followed by some dessert, a “bowl of berries, a mix of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.”
To make sure she’s able to recover from her intense training routine, Felix makes sure she gets at least 7-8 hours sleep every day, usually supplemented with daytime naps whenever she can.
Being a mom and Olympic athlete are the two best jobs in the world, and as most working moms can attest, the better I sleep over the course of a day, the better my performance is. Whether that’s a quick power nap on the couch or sleeping on an airplane when I’m traveling, I need healthy sleep to be the best I can be, both on and off the track.Reverie Teams Up with Olympic Gold Medalist and Mom Allyson Felix to Celebrate National Sleep Awareness Month | PR Newswire
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