Allyson Felix on the Postponed Olympics, Training During COVID, and Self-Care


(Image credit: Courtesy of Athleta)

COVID-19 has upended a lot of things this year, but one now-postponed event that really stands out is the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. While the decision to move the Games to 2021 was safe and responsible, we, along with so many others, were so bummed. But we'll be patient, and we think it'll be worth waiting for!

Although we didn't get a chance to spend our summer watching gymnastics, track and field events, swimming, and so much more, all of the Olympic hopefuls have still been using quarantine to continue to train hard for next year. One of them is six-time Olympic-gold-medalist runner, activist, and mother Allyson Felix. The track and field star has been working hard during this time, training for the Games, using her platform to speak out on racial injustice and inequality, and creating her first-ever activewear capsule collection with Athleta.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Athleta)

The collection was designed with Felix's own activewear preferences in mind, meaning it's made for high performance and can withstand an Olympian-worthy workout. She hopes that the pieces will empower women and girls across the country. 

We got a chance to chat with Felix about the collection, how she is training for 2021, and how she's been taking care of herself during this time. And we got some quarantine workout coaching tips, too. See what she had to say below.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Athleta)

This is your first-ever apparel collaboration. What made you want to partner with Athleta? What was your inspiration for the collection?

I am so excited about the capsule coming out. It was so important for me to partner with Athleta because their mission just aligns with what's in my heart—to empower women and girls—that's just at the core of who I am. So I love that, and I love the opportunity to be able to create something that when women and girls put it on, hopefully, it helps them have confidence and feel empowered.

I wanted to bring inspiration from my own style in my training. It's very highly functional, tested, and a very elite standard, and so I wanted to bring that to these pieces, as well as a very fashionable aspect. So I'm excited that we've been able to do all of that in the line.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Athleta)

That's interesting that you brought up the design and that level because sometimes with activewear, it might not be for the training that I assume that you would do. So what do you look for in your activewear?

Yeah, that was really important to me because I think we've all had those pieces that are so cute, look so great, but are not so practical. So for me, it was important. What I look for is to be able to have pieces that have no distractions. So when I'm training, when I am doing my really intense workouts, nothing is going to be bugging me, irritating me; everything is just going to be helping me, where it almost feels like the clothes are just an extension of you.

I think that we've done a really great job of doing that and making sure that we address all those problem areas. Then also, I brought a lot of things that I love and that I use in my training to the collection, one being that I love to layer. For me, when I first get to a workout, I like to be fully covered. We have this great tracksuit and longer things for that. And then as I get warmed up and get into the more intense zone of a workout, I love to strip off into the bare, minimal pieces. So we have that really close-to-skin feel and some of the really nice high-line bras. Everything is really functional, and also you're able to go from the track to running errands or popping in for a coffee—things that are aligned with what women do.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Athleta)

COVID has really changed a lot, including the Olympics being postponed. How have you dealt with the change when it comes to training? I'm sure mentally, it was disappointing as well, so how did you cope with the news?

I really had to take time to just grieve it. It felt like such a loss. I have been training for so long for this moment. Not just myself, but [there are] so many people who are on my team, who have done and sacrificed so much so that I could have this opportunity. Once I did that, I felt like, "Okay, let me pick up the pieces." It's postponed, it isn't canceled, and I just had to push forward. But I think there are still days that are a challenge because everything has been shifted, and training still doesn't look like normal yet. I'm just trying to be kind to myself through it all.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Athleta)

How has your training changed for 2021?

It's gotten really creative, I will say, especially with the stay-at-home order. I was literally training on the street in front of my house, going to our local parks, training on the soccer field, and just doing whatever I could. Things have gotten a little bit better now, and I'm able to be back on the track, but we've had to really shift our timeline so that we're able to still be at exactly where we need to be a year from now. So it's all a lot of moving pieces and a lot of going with the flow. There aren't competitions, so that's a whole other factor. [I'm] just really having to be open, like everyone in their jobs and their situations.

Do you find that you are working out the same right now?

I would say that we are still pushing forward with the intensity, and it's gotten creative, like I talked a little bit about location-wise. But I think some days, I have to find that motivation, or it might be lacking a little bit, so [I'm] pushing myself. But I am trying to really move forward with the same intensity because it's still coming.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Athleta)

Do you have any tips for those of us who have been slacking in the exercise department during quarantine? It can be hard to get motivated.

Yeah, it's super hard. One little tip I would say is I've been having fun with my girlfriends doing [online] happy hours and stuff, and so I would encourage a happy hour, but we're going to do an online workout. Your girlfriends do it together, whatever that might be. Anything that can help you stay accountable. It's super hard because with COVID, obviously, we're not getting together with people, which is what I would normally suggest. So basically, an online version of that.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Athleta)

You're such an advocate in so many ways for so many different issues and topics. Why is it so important for you to use your platform to speak out, and what do you hope to accomplish?

I mean, I felt for a long time that I wasn't comfortable speaking out, and I felt like I've been on this journey to get to that place. Becoming a mom, having my daughter, I feel like I finally found that. I think about the world that she's going to grow up in, and I don't want her to face these same challenges. So I think that's what has really helped me to embrace my platform, and I really just want to use it to bring awareness and to really speak out, especially on issues that have touched me personally and that I feel like I can help or affect some type of change.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Athleta)

Has becoming a mother changed the way you approach your sport and competitions?

Yeah, for sure. I think I've always been a really competitive person, and I've always just really loved to win. But having a daughter now, I think that motivation and that reason why is different. I really want to show her how you overcome adversity and what hard work looks like so that she can apply those lessons to whatever she is passionate about and whatever she wants to do in life. Then, I think it's really been a perspective of this is so much bigger than sport. I love what I do, I'm passionate about it, but also, I have this platform, and I now see what I can accomplish with that. So just having a wider perspective as well.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Athleta)

How has quarantine been for you and your family? Is there anything new you've learned about yourself, your husband, or your daughter? How have you gotten used to this "new normal"?

The family time has been good because before this, I would have been insane with travel, so I feel really blessed to be home and be present. We've been doing all kinds of things. I think as a family, we've been enjoying taking walks and little mini hikes and enjoying just some of those simple things. Going to the park or playing in the backyard and just watching my daughter get her personality. We got a little blow-up pool, and doing all those little fun things has been pretty cool.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Athleta)

We talk a lot about mental health on THE/THIRTY, and we're wondering, how do you take care of your mental health?

For me, it looks a lot like just asking for help from my husband or my parents, so that I can have a little time for myself. I've been trying to start my day with a gratitude journal. I think just in the midst of what the world is right now, and it's so heavy and it's so uncertain and all these things, to make that conscious effort to focus on the positive. In my life, I feel like there's so much to be grateful for, and actually physically writing that down, that's really been helping me when I'm having those days where I'm just in a funk, so I'm really trying to practice that.


(Image credit: Courtesy of Athleta)

Do you have any self-care tools or practices that you do to de-stress, calm, or take care of yourself?

I have recently started just meditating a bit, and that's really been helpful with some of the stress and just some of the heaviness of the moment. I feel like so much is happening and so that has been an area that's been helping me.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used in the place of advice of your physician or other medical professionals. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare provider first with any health-related questions.

Managing Editor

Sarah is lifestyle writer and editor with over 10 years of experience covering health and wellness, interior design, food, beauty, and tech. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she attended New York University and lived in New York for 12 years before returning to L.A. in 2019. In addition to her work on THE/THIRTY and Who What Wear, she held editor roles at Apartment Therapy, Real Simple, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and The Bump (sister site of The Knot). She has a passion for health and wellness, but she especially loves writing about mental health. Her self-care routine consists of five things: a good workout, “me” time on the regular, an intriguing book/podcast/playlist to unwind after a long day, naps, and decorating her home.