The Weird Way To Win

Jackie Joyner-Kersee might be a former Olympic athlete, but the accomplishment is hardly what defines her. The 50-year-old track and field star, best known for her award-winning performances in the heptathalon and the long jump, has long been as inspirational off the track as she is on it: A six-time medal winner (three of them gold), Joyner-Kersee has shown legions of young female fans that with determination and the right attitude, they too can enjoy tremendous success.  

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Though she's retired from competitive athletics, Joyner-Kersee is still dedicated to healthy living: This past weekend, she hosted the Boys & Girls Club's 3rd Annual Fit Family Challenge in Los Angeles, which saw five families compete for a paid trip to the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. 

"I’m a Boys & Girls Club alum myself, [and] I believe in their mission," she "It’s one thing to instill these qualities and life skills into our young people, but it’s important that we do it with the family in mind."  

So what's Joyner-Kersee doing when she's not busy with fitness-oriented philanthropy? Read on to find out more about a typical day-in-the-life for this top-notch athlete.  
What’s your everyday life like?

I’m staying active, I do a lot of work with young people, mentoring, speaking, and traveling. I’m [also] doing a lot in the area of urban farming, teaching young people where food comes from.
What’s your regular fitness routine like,  and how has it changed over the years?

Since I’ve retired, there’s not enough hours in the day for me to do the things I want to do! I try to do an hour workout. If I’m on the treadmill, I try to get 4 miles in at a 15-minute mile pace with a 2.0 to 2.5 incline. I’ll do running intervals. But I’m not doing it every day, because after walking on the treadmill or even jogging on it, my Achilles and calf tighten up a lot. 

When I was training, [injury] prevention was so important. We made sure we stayed on top of things before they happened. I still do weight lifting but don’t lift at the same level. I get my flexibility in by stretching, and do some pool workouts. Two weeks ago I started doing a cardio boxing class because I wanted to try something different. Zumba and yoga are on the list of things to try. All in all, I’m just having fun in the process. So even working out with my friends is about having fun and challenging one another or working on different portions of our body and setting goals.
How has the mental training you went through for competitive sport prepared you for other challenges?

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From the physical point of view, the mental training was to…not let someone step on my toe or do something to me that would cause me to lose my focus, and then channel that energy into my performance. And to take that away from the field and into my everyday life, I used visualization. I would meditate in the morning, to make sure I was centered and could bring in the positive energy and keep positive people around me. Visualization was important to me by the time I was 9 years of age, to get my body to do what I wanted. It's also about not letting negativity become an obstacle to stop me from achieving whatever goal I set for myself. I would keep my mind in a positive frame. Different things happen that can cause a distraction, but for me it was a matter of jotting down my goals and keeping them in the forefront so I could always see them. I still do a lot of stuff manually. It’s a constant reminder of where I’m trying to go.
When did you start meditating?

I started in the latter part of my career, in 1996. Before I’d go to the track I’d find a quiet space and make sure that positive energy was coming through. A lot of times, I knew that when I got to the track it would be chaotic, in the sense that I had to go from one event to the next, and be successful. So, how do I visualize that and how do I meditate so that [the process] is smooth? Now that I’m not competing, I find a calmness come over me that's so important, and hopefully if the space I walk into is rushed or chaotic, I can make the people around me feel at ease as well.  
Which achievement in life are you proudest of?

My greatest achievement is graduating from UCLA, because that was a goal my mom and I discussed, and I lost my mother when I was a freshman in college. Also, going to the Olympics and winning because that’s a hard achievement. You’re very ambitious and want to see your dreams become a reality.

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Date: 05.12.2018, 22:01 / Views: 63432