An interesting fact about the reigning 400-meter world champion, Grenadian sprinter Kirani James: he's the world's slowest walker. You could beat him in a walk-a-thon. Seriously.
"I actually walk really slow," says James. "Most people see me, and they're like, 'I can't believe you're that fast, because you walk so slow and you don't act like you're fast.'"
Although he may be slow off the track, James is untouchable in the zone. Now 19, he has racked up gold medals in 200m and 400m races since he was 14, when he took first place at the 2007 CARIFTA Games.
Winning times aside, what's unique about James is his training attitude. Awards and records, while enticing, aren't as important to him as running as fast as possible. He say, "When you look at it in this day and age, if you don't run fast you don't win. My philosophy is just to go out there and run fast. As long as you run fast, wins are going to come, but that's not my goal. I don't really focus much on time. I just want to keep improving. The goal is to always improve."
When James trains or competes, he doesn't allow himself to get caught up in statistics. He focuses on the finish line and the fun of getting there. Harvey Glance, James's former coach at the University of Alabama, says, "He isn't caught up in places or records, things of that nature. But one thing I know for sure is that he trains to run fast, he loves to run fast. What disappoints him the most is when he does not run fast."
You may never compete for Olympic gold like James, but you can get more out of your training by modeling your attitude after his. When you start feeling overwhelmed by personal goals and qualifying times, take a breath and remind yourself of the real reason you became an athlete.
James: "[Running] is just a connection beyond anything else. It's my playground. I can forget the entire world and just be happy."
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