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The most decorated US Track & Field athlete

The most decorated US Track & Field athele

lead with your legs

Q&A

Your return to running has been one of the most illustrious of all time. Did you ever doubt that you would come back?  

There were a lot of moments of doubt. My return started even before my daughter was born, because I knew I had to continue to train if I wanted to come back for the 2019 season. I didn’t feel like myself—everything was hard for me. I was frustrated with my new body and wondered if I would ever get back to my “old self.” There were serious concerns surrounding my own health right before giving birth, and my emergency C-div added more healing time before getting back on the track. It was an extremely humbling situation.

How have you gotten stronger since giving birth to your daughter, Camryn?

My mind and spirit have definitely gotten stronger. Camryn has given me a new motivation in everything I do, on and off the track. I am more confident, and I feel resilient. And I’m so grateful for my body, for giving me my daughter and for what it has accomplished after such a tough pregnancy. It’s been difficult, but I’m getting stronger every day.

How are you thinking differently about your training now versus in the past?

I think about training smarter, valuing quality over quantity. I have a lot of input into my training at this stage of my career, which is a big change from when I was younger.

What’s one step of this journey for which you are now grateful that you struggled with in the moment? 

My biggest losses on the biggest stages. In those moments, I was devastated. Today, I’m grateful for the failures­ because they taught me so much and pushed me to fight. Those moments continue to drive me to this day. I’m equally grateful that I used my voice in 2019—that I broke the barrier, made change within the industry, and continued the conversation around existing inequalities. I realized that the problems women are facing are bigger than myself and my comfort.

What’s one lesson that took you a long time to learn that you’d like to teach Cammy from the start?

To embrace her failures. I want Cammy to go after every dream she has without fear. It’s not always going to work out and, when it doesn’t, I want to show her how to learn from those experiences to be better next time.

What’s your advice to fellow athletes who are currently experiencing a low and are prepared to walk away?

Accept the lows and keep pushing— they’re the inevitable means to accomplishing your goals. But, you should always find joy in what you’re doing. If that’s no longer the case, make changes or move toward something that brings back the joy.

What happens when you step onto the track? How does it differ from early memories of competing?

I will always be competitive. I will always have that wave of nerves hit before stepping on the track, the zoning out as I’m in the blocks. The fire is still there—my motivation is just different. I have a huge sense of gratitude on the track and for my races.

Who of your peers do you admire most in your sport right now?

Alysia Montano, Kara Goucher, Mary Cain, and Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce. These women—especially those with new families—haven’t let anything stop them from crushing it in their events. Each one motivates me as I look ahead to the new year.

How do you balance your personal life, public life, and training?

It has been difficult, and I won’t say I have it down just yet. I do my best to make sure I give everything its own time and space, and I have an amazing team to help me balance. I try to do it all, and sometimes I can. But I’m learning to be okay on those days I can't. I’m just doing my best—it's all we can do. 

With 25 medals and counting, what does each incremental victory mean to you at this point?

It’s been interesting to think about the medals and appreciate the unique journey behind each one—the highs and the lows. When I look back on what it took to win each one, I feel even more prepared for what's next.

What’s the next major step toward gender equality in professional sports?

Women need to be equally represented. This means more women represented in the media and more women at the table as decision-makers. It also means more women speaking to our experiences, our values, and the ways in which we deserve to be treated and supported.

What does running give you that nothing else can?

Running is truly my escape. It feeds my competitive nature and makes me feel resilient and strong. When I run, I’m constantly challenged to push not just my body, but also my mind.