I found this gem while I was editing, and I was thinking about Allyson Felix and her wondrous career. We will probably not see an athlete like her again. This interview was done by Stuart Weir, and I wrote that it was my favorite interview of December 2018. Enjoy! Some thought-provoking questions from Stuart and thoughtful answers from Allyson Felix. Enjoy
Original post, December 9, 2018
Repost October 20, 2022
In December, Stuart Weir did 3 interviews: Tori Bowie, Caster Semenya, and Allyson Felix. This was his finest of the month.
Stuart Weir is everywhere. Stuart keeps me laughing and our readers interested with his interviews and questions to our sport’s favorite athletes. He came to me last fall and offered a series of interviews on key athletes. This interview with Allyson Felix is, well, extensive.
Allyson has been around the sport since the year 2000. She has been on the covers of California Track & Running News, American Track & Field, Coaching Athletics, and Athletes Only. Allyson is always good in an interview. I tend to catch up with her and her manager/brother Wesley on the bus to the Doha DL most years.
In 2018, Stuart was our eyes and ears for most of the year. This is a fun interview. Enjoy!
28 questions to Allyson Felix
1. RunBlogRun: One career highlight?
Allyson Felix: The London 2012 Olympic 200 meters, which kind of represents so much more of my career, ups and downs, and a day when things came together for me.
2. RunBlogRun: Toughest opponent?
Allyson Felix: Veronica [Campbell-Brown]. I think just for the span of years we competed against each other and just what we brought out of each other, for me and it was really a great run.
3. RunBlogRun: 200 or 400. Which do you think was your better event?
Allyson Felix: Good question. I don’t know. I think that if I put together the 400 race that I should, I have some great potential there but it is a strategy race and I’ve got to get it right. That is the determining factor.
4. RunBlogRun: What is your approach to the 400 meters?
Allyson Felix: The 400 meters is not something that comes naturally to me, and is not my favorite. It’s about trying to get it right, and when you don’t get it right it is frustrating. And sometimes you wait a long time to get another opportunity for a great quality race and to put things right again. I think that is what attracts me to it is that I love a challenge. It takes me out of my comfort zone and presents me with something new.
5. RunBlogRun: You were fifth in Olympic 100 – what could you have achieved had you concentrated on the 100?
Allyson Felix: I don’t know; in the 100, the start is my big thing. To have issues with your start and running the 100 that don’t go together. If that had been my main thing, hopefully, I would have been able to get it together. It’s hard to say with “what ifs” and all that.
6. RunBlogRun: What was more important to you, the time or the result?
Allyson Felix: I’ve always been an athlete who leans more toward results. I have tried to value wins over time. I think we can get so hung up over records or times and all of that. I think the beauty of track and field is it pureness, just getting out there and racing. I try to focus on racing, but sometimes you can get hung up over time it’s about winning.
7. RunBlogRun: What is the race you’re most satisfied with your performance?
Allyson Felix: The 2012 Olympic trials, 200 meters which were also my PR race. When I break that race down, it’s definitely one of my best
8. RunBlogRun: Can we assume the Beijing World Championships 2015 final 400 (your PR race) is your favorite 200m race?.
Allyson Felix: Yes. PR races tend to be that way!
9. RunBlogRun: What do you remember about that race (World Championship final 2015)?
Allyson Felix: Yes, I think I put that together well. I thought that was a good year for me, training-wise, the way that my body felt, the conditions – all of those things played into having a good race. It’s about getting it right on the day and having everything come together, but I can also look back and think of things that could have been better as well.
10. RunBlogRun: In 2010, you had a very dominant year winning seven Diamond Leagues (200 and 400), where does that year fit in?
Allyson Felix: You’re taking me back! I can appreciate the way the Diamond League used to be. It’s interesting now, the way it is, and it’s exciting. To be able to do that in that year and go back and forth between events, it was fun and something I’m proud of.
11. RunBlogRun: Going back even further to the 2004 Olympics at the age of 17. What was that experience like?
Allyson Felix: Just an amazing experience. I hadn’t competed for much internationally at all. I remember just being a teenager and taking it all in. I feel that’s what gave me the drive to keep going. It gave me a little taste of it but also showed me that I wasn’t there and that there was a lot of work to be done and a lot that goes into this. Also an appreciation for the sport and getting to see people up close. I remember Joanna Hayes won there, and to see her have her moment and wanting that for myself as well, but getting to see what goes into it was also very impactful for me.
12. RunBlogRun: Tell me about your partnership with your coach Bobby [Kersee]
Allyson Felix: Yes, it’s been a great partnership over the years. We have grown a lot together and understand each other a lot. I think we are so different that it just works. I’m very laid back, and he’s not! But it works. I think as I’ve grown up, I have been able to find my voice with him. And we are able just to have a really great relationship.
13. RunBlogRun: How do you look back on the Olympic final in 2016: satisfaction, disappointment, frustration?
Allyson Felix: All of the above! I think it goes back to one of the greatest races of my career – not just because of that race, but because of the year I had and the injury that I had. I don’t even know how I finished up in that race and was that close to winning it is one of my proudest moments. I don’t think anyone will ever quite know what happened that year, and it still amazes me that I was even in a position to be at the Olympics.
14. RunBlogRun: You are probably the most successful relay runner ever – what do you enjoy about relays?
Allyson Felix: They are fun. For so much of track and field, you’re by yourself, and there is an enormous weight on you to get it right or get it wrong. The relay is different because you get to come together with someone else and fight for this common goal. It’s pressure in a different way, and that’s a nice change. And it’s always at the end of the championship and it’s nice to kinda enjoy your teammates and enjoy competing.
15. RunBlogRun: What have you left to achieve?
Allyson Felix: There’s always something to achieve. I’m a competitor. I’m an athlete. I’m always setting goals for the year. There’s 2020 and the 400 and all that.
16. RunBlogRun: How much longer will you go on?
Allyson Felix: I would like to do 2020 and maybe a year after that. Probably not much more after that. That is kinda what I see in my future.
17. RunBlogRun: Have you given much thought to what happens after athletics – coaching? Will you stay in the sport?
Allyson Felix: I have thought about it a lot and been preparing. I want to stay connected to the sport, but I don’t see myself coaching at this point, just fulfilling my other interests and passions – more time for things close to my heart and different causes. Children are a huge passion of mine. My degree is in elementary education. So I definitely want to work with kids in some capacity. And different organizations that I worked with in the past, like Right to Play and having enough time for that. And I’m sure I’ll want to take a break – just be a normal person.
18. RunBlogRun: What has athletics taught you?
Allyson Felix: For sure. It is the most heartbreaking sport but brings the most joy. And like you said, it has taught me so many lessons over the years, more than I could imagine, and I’m super grateful for that.
19. RunBlogRun: If a young person asks your advice about getting involved in athletics, would you say?
Allyson Felix: I would just encourage them. It helps no matter where you’re going – whether you’re trying to do this at a professional level or whether you have a whole other career; sport teaches you so much – discipline and work ethic. And it’s also enjoyable so I hope that would be the selling point. The cool thing is that you can challenge yourself and see your progress, which appeals to most people.
20. RunBlogRun: You had a role with President Obama; what was that about?
Allyson Felix: I was on his Council for Fitness, Sport, and Nutrition. Another of my big passions is getting involved in getting families active. In the United States, it is such a big issue with diseases just coming from living a sedentary lifestyle. Getting involved and getting kids out of their homes, in front of screens, and active.
21. RunBlogRun: With no championship in 2018, did you deliberately take a more accessible year?
Allyson Felix: Definitely. Especially for me, after 15 years this year, it is crucial to give my body a break from the usual intensity. I’m just trying to be smarter with my training and racing as well – get some good quality races in but also be selective with what I’m doing, my time and energy, and all of that.
22. RunBlogRun: And the variety of what you’ve taken on your career, do you think that has helped your longevity?
For sure. I think it has allowed my body to not take such a beating. And just for my interest as well. I can’t imagine 15 years of just the 400 – I don’t think I would have made it. So it’s nice to be able to switch it up, and I genuinely love all the distances. So getting the chance to myself in different ways, I definitely think, has prolonged my career. And all the events play into each other, whether it’s working on 100 for the 200 or whatever it may be, because of the work together but also help my mind.
23. RunBlogRun: Would you spell out your reasons for competing?
Allyson Felix: For me, I feel that I have been blessed with this exceptional talent, and it’s really to bring glory back to God. That’s what I believe.
24. RunBlogRun: How does your Christian faith impact your running, and to turn the question around: Where is God when it all goes wrong, like the injury in the 2013 World Championship final?
Allyson Felix: I wouldn’t describe it as faith helping me to win. That is not how I see it, but trust in God puts things in perspective with my purpose and reason for competing, and I always return to that. In Moscow, for example, things will not always go right. And that doesn’t mean that anything is wrong with your faith. It’s just life; everyone experiences that, whatever field you are in. And you rely on it just as you do when things are going great.
25. RunBlogRun: You always seem to lose graciously when you lose. Is it something that comes naturally, or do you work at it?
Allyson Felix: I think you’re aware of that. It’s not natural, but one of the greatest lessons that Bobby Kersee has taught me is that you win and lose in the same way. I think there’s something significant about that because the next generation is always watching you. And I think it’s a really impactful thing that you see. And I remember growing up watching the Olympics and having those sporting heroes, and it’s often not about what they say but also about how they conduct themselves and what they do. So you should try to be mindful of that and in an authentic way.
26. RunBlogRun: Are you interested in getting involved in the administrative side of athletics – are there issues you would like to see handled better?
Allyson Felix: Yes, of course. From an athlete’s point of view, a lot of things, when time permits, would be well worth my time to get involved with. So that is something that would be of interest to me as well.
27. RunBlogRun: Talk about the Right to Play. I think you have been to Palestine and Uganda
Allyson Felix: Yes, they are doing meaningful work for me. So they combine a lot of my passions and have allowed me to get involved and get hands-on, and I think every time I have gone into the field, my life has been changed for the better. I always feel that I’m the one on the ground, trying to do work, and I always leave feeling I’m the one who has been changed. It’s been a great experience. All those opportunities are excellent; it is fun when I get to work with kids and get hands-on.
RunBlogRun: You have taken part in a few streets meets. Do you enjoy them?
Yes. It is fun and an opportunity to bring track and field to a different atmosphere and to expose people who might not come into the stadium. It’s always cool to run something like a straight 150. I do run 150s in training, but not racing. It’s so different that you don’t quite know where you are without the bend. Street races are very other and not quite so intense, and sometimes I think it’s good for the track to be that way because sometimes we put so much pressure on every single race that it’s nice to have a lighter feel.