‘I Make Sure I Make Time For My Daughter, That Is A Huge Priority For Me’: Six-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Allyson Felix On Training For Tokyo

Allyson Felix reveals how two-year-old daughter Camryn reacts to seeing her race

Allyson Felix

by Annie Vischer |
Updated on

This June Allyson Felix, 35, qualified for her fifth Olympic Games. To date the renowned athlete has won six Olympic gold medials and three silver, statistics that combine to make Allyson Felix the most successful female athlete in history. This year, in Tokyo, Allyson could stand to become the most decorated Olympic track and field athlete full stop. Add into the mix that 2021 marks Allyson's first year competing in the Olympic Games as a mother and you start to appreciate the significance of the event. Though Allyson's two-year-old daughter Camryn is unlikely to be allowed to travel to Tokyo to support her mother, it is clear how much of a motivation she is for the athlete. Here Allyson speaks exclusively to Grazia about Camryn's reaction to seeing her race, her self-care heroes and how she's using her voice and lifestyle brand Saysh to help support mothers in the workplace.

2021 marks Allyson's first Olympic Games as a mother. 'It’s really difficult,' admits Allyson, ' the time leading up to the Olympics is when you, as an athlete, are in the most demand, but it’s also when you need the most focus. It does end up being a juggling act and it is challenging. It all comes down to scheduling things and finding out what’s important to you. You have to learn to say no a lot of the time. My biggest support has definitely been my family and leaning into my partner to ask for help when I need help. I make sure I'm ready for whatever the day entails and I make sure I make time for my daughter, that is a huge priority for me.'

There's no way you can balance it all, it's just so difficult

Achieving the perfect work, life balance is a feat often discussed in Allyson's presence but she has a different take. 'It's less about balance for me and more about integrating my family in my work. Sometimes that looks like my husband bringing my daughter to a training session and being able to spend time with her or looking over to her for motivation. I work things like that into my day because, for me, there's no way you can balance it all, it's just so difficult. Work wise, I try to make time for as much as possible but I do keep in mind that I can't say yes to everything.'

So what does race day at the Olympic Games look like for Allyson? 'It's actually a pretty simple day,' Allyson reveals. 'I wake up, have breakfast and then it's a lot of down time. The races at the Olympics are pretty late in the evening. The day is about occupying your mind and staying off your feet. For me that looks like bingeing some TV shows, listening to music, talking with my family, having lunch and then heading over to warm up and compete. Race day is a pretty lowkey day versus a training day.' Although Allyson's daughter Camryn is unlikely to be in Tokyo cheering her mother on this year, her reaction to seeing Allyson on the track is always a spectacle. 'Her new thing right now is cheering,' says Allyson, 'She loves to clap and she loves to scream "Go mama go!" and "Run mama run!". That's been really neat to see this last year. Had the Olympics happened in 2020 when they were supposed to, it's not something I would have seen or experienced.'

Allyson Felix
©Allyson Felix

While Allyson is renowned for her athletic credentials, recently she's been using her voice and new lifestyle brand Saysh to fight gender injustice, particularly in the workplace. The Saysh-based community that Allyson has nurtured from day dot plays into this initiative in a big way. 'Saysh comes from the French word 'seiche', which means to move back and forth. The Saysh concept is particularly hooked on the idea of a seiche wave, a wave that is found in enclosed bodies of water. When atmospheric pressure brings that water to one side, it's a seiche wave that restores balance. That's what I see Saysh doing for gender equity. We're trying to bring balance to that space. Saysh exists to make women feel known, seen and heard. It came about because of the inequalities that I witnessed throughout my career. I felt that we really needed this in the world. We need companies that see women wholly.' Allyson expands, 'My experience surrounding the maternity policy for athletes brought me to this place and opened my eyes to just some of the struggles that women are currently facing. I saw that there was more work to be done and particularly that there are always more ways that we can support mothers.' To anyone facing similar obstacles in their career Allyson says: 'Speak your truth. Whether that's in a small setting with your friends or using a larger platform. I think it's important to talk, share and to know that you are not alone in these things and to be supported through it.'

When it comes to motivation Allyson knows the value of her 'village'. 'I always talk about my village,' explains Allyson, 'I have many different friends, my husband,' - Allyson is married to former sprinter and hurdler Kenneth Ferguson - 'and of course Peloton and the community is obviously amazing,' Allyson has partnered with Peloton to design an exclusive week-long training programme, which has just launched. 'My husband and I have two Peloton Bikes and we've positioned them to face each other. Whenever I need added motivation he's there asking "Did you get your ride in today? Ok you didn't? Let's go do it." We often do night time classes together after we've put Camryn down to sleep. Training like this not only pushes me, but gives me the sense that I'm not doing this alone.'

Allyson Felix

As for self-care Allyson has nurtured a few rituals over the years. 'I definitely always make time for self-care and I'm big into Epsom salt baths, especially after training. I love to light some candles too and listen to some music or read a book. That's my time to myself.' Beauty wise Allyson considers herself low-maintenance, 'I have a pretty simple approach to beauty, I'm pretty basic. I spend the majority of my time training so I make sure that my skin is protected. I love Olay's Total Effects Whip Light as Air SPF30 Moisturiser with Vitamin C and E CreamOlay's Total Effects Whip, £34.99. When I'm training that's pretty much all I apply. When I'm competing I like to wear the Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer, £17, and I might fill out my brows a bit but nothing too crazy. If I'm going out I'll play with make-up. I'm an earth tones type of gal and I like to play that up.' As for haircare? 'I've been sporting braids a lot, especially during quarantine. I love the Pantene Gold Series, in particular their Triple Care Braid Cream (currently only officially available in the US but you can shop it for £7.16 here). That product helps me protect my hair when I put it into protective hairstyles. You'll always find Pantene's Gold Series products in my bathroom!

It goes without saying that as a five time Olympian, Allyson Felix has a unique take on what it takes to achieve your goals and her advice is well worth heeding, 'Ask for help. It's something that doesn't come naturally for me but over the years I have really had to lean into that and realise that I can't do everything on my own. It's OK to ask for help. It's OK to say that you're not OK. For me that's been a game-changer and it's allowed me to juggle everything that I have on my plate.'

As part of her partnership with Peloton, Allyson designed an exclusive week-long training program__, which has just launched. The Peloton community can experience a week of training just like Allyson, a passionate Peloton Member herself, does in real life. The cross-training program, developed in collaboration with Peloton Instructor Jess Sims, will showcase playlists inspired by Allyson, incorporating walking, running, strength, yoga and meditation for a well-rounded week. This special content will be accessible to all Members on Peloton Digital.

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Peloton Products - Grazia 2021

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