by Team Snapbac
This month’s showcase athlete is Mikel Thomas, a Trinidad and Tobago Olympic hurdler and sprint runner. He has competed in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics and has been a runner and an athlete his entire life. His personal best for the 100-meter sprint is 10.24 seconds which gets us a little excited over here as we dive into his tips, tricks and advice. Like most Olympic athletes, he’s incredibly driven and dedicated, but his methods and motivations may surprise you!
Was running the only sport you ever wanted to play?
Growing up on the island we did everything we could, football, cricket but running was always my love. I was always that kid down for a race!
Does that mean you always knew you would be a professional athlete and competitive runner?
I just wanted to run. It’s freeing. It’s a sport that you don’t need any tools or equipment for. I just wanted to be the best version of me, that includes being an elite athlete.
Are there people in your life who have inspired you to be a better athlete?
My mom and dad, Ato Boldon, Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee are just a few I looked up to.
What’s your favorite post workout routine?
A hot bath, a good meal and sleep. Nothing beats rest.
Along your athletic journey, what kept you going? What were some of your personal challenges?
I've always ran. It's one sport you don’t need anything else to do. It was a freedom and a way of expression. It teaches values and principles, it challenges your beliefs and it molds your mind, body and spirit. It evolved for me and has seen me through some personal evolutions.
I’ve fallen, been hurt, made the team, got medals, lost friends, gained a family, raised my flag and made a nation proud. I've lived and experienced life all while chasing the clock. As long as I still have time, I will still run after it.
What advice would you give to those who are pursuing their own athletic goals and dreams?
Write it down and make it known, find a team, study your craft, ask questions, love the process, allow time to work on you, be committed, focus and set long and short term goals. Master your head space and find gratitude daily. HAVE FUN!
Are there any particular methods or actions that you utilize to stay focused and motivated?
There is no one answer because it will change. No two days are the same. You have to be able to adapt, mentally and physically. You have to know your why or else pain is pointless, and there will be pain. You need purpose and direction. Like I said, write it down, make it known and see it daily because we will forget. You have to want it and own it. It's your dream. No one else will understand or care for it like you do; don’t expect anyone to. Learn to fight.
When planning your individual workouts, what is the most important thing to remember?
The big picture: what you’re working for, where are you now and the process your committed to. Creating a program is like putting together pieces of a puzzle or cooking a full course meal. Each part is important but part of a whole experience.
When you play a team sport, how do you stay in shape and practice on your own?
Same as with an individual. You’re only as strong as a team by the sum of their parts. Do your part every day, play your role and commit to something greater.
If you experience pain or injuries, are there any go-to treatments that you prefer?
Rest is number one! Seek professional help, stay focused and regroup.
They say, "you are what you eat." As a runner, how important is diet to you? Are there any specific dietary restrictions or preferences that are specific to your sport?
In track and field, every ounce you carry is an ounce you have to move. It’s like a finely tuned race car; details matter in performance. I’ve experimented with everything from vegan to Keto. You have to find the right balance for your body type and athletic demands. I like to keep it simple: stay away from the junk, you know what you shouldn’t eat, keep it clean, fresh and cook more than you eat out. When you cook, color is key so cover the bases.
“We stand on the shoulders of giants.” This is a phrase I live by. I’m here today because of the great men and women who came before me. I’m a sinner saved by grace. I’m undeserving, so I’ll give all the glory to God. My faith keeps me, it goes before me and covers behind me.
We all have doubt fear and worries along our journey, but by his grace I already have victory in life because I know who I am apart from sport. This is just a thing I do, not who I am. A platform to help others discover truth and peace.
This life is hard, but you're not alone. There is a love that exists. There is hope. You are called and chosen with a purpose, and once you discover what that is, it frees you from the pressures and demands of this world so you can do a work with joy and purpose knowing it's a calling.
You can do all things through Christ who loves you. From a small island to conquering the world, a statistic to an anomaly, from undersized to defeating giants, from homeless to hero. I’ve done that, and I want others to be inspired to know they can do greater. That's what I would want others to take from my journey.