We’re thrilled that Samantha Clayton, fitness expert and former competitive sprinter is going to be sharing her advice each week on this blog.
To help us understand more about her background, we took the time to ask her a few questions while she was visiting Herbalife Headquarters in Los Angeles.
Welcome, Samantha. We’re all very keen to learn more about fitness. We know that an active, healthy lifestyle is important to you, but what motivates you each day?
Samantha Clayton: As an athlete the feeling of competing and winning motivated me to train hard. Now my life has changed and I’m a mom to four wonderful children. Like all parents, my kids are my sole motivation in everything that I do.
I live a healthy lifestyle to lead them by example, I donate my time to charity to show them it is amazing to help others and I work in the world of fitness because it is my passion.
I enjoy sharing my love of fitness and I believe that by following my passion and pursuing my dreams, I’m giving my kids an invaluable lesson by teaching them to follow their dreams too.
That’s something that a lot of people can relate to. But unlike most of us, you were actually a professional athlete, weren’t you?
Samantha Clayton: Yes, I got into athletics when I was young. I was always active and I started playing sports at school. In fact, I was captain of my school netball and field hockey teams, and I just loved all sports.
At a school sports event, a local track and field coach scouted me. He told me I was a talented runner and invited me to compete in an open track meet. I showed up to my first track meet in my school gym kit and old tennis shoes (no fancy track shoes or blocks) and won both the 100 meter and 200 meter sprint events. That day started my journey into the world of running, and just one year later, I represented England at an international event.
That’s amazing. It sounds like you were born to be a sprinter.
Samantha Clayton: I was a fast runner from a very young age, I loved racing with my sisters in the street and school sports day was always my favorite day of the year. My speed helped me to be successful at all other sports but I was always naturally fast, and once I started training with a coach, my times improved every week.
I do think I was born a sprinter. My body type was perfect for the short events and running track suited my incredibly competitive nature, because success was based purely upon my own work ethic and determination.
Professional athletics is renowned for being uncompromising. How do you cope with tough competition?
Samantha Clayton: Once you make it to a world-class level in sprinting, any physical advantage is often no longer a factor. All track and field athletes are strong and everybody is fast. There is often less than a second between the winning time and last place!
For me, mental strength and self-belief are very real elements of competition. Good preparation leading up to an event and a solid routine to help combat nerves was always my best approach. I always used to eat the same breakfast, pull on my lucky socks and work through my detailed stretch routine before any event, and it all kept me focused on my goal.
What has been your biggest sporting challenge—and how did you prepare for it?
Samantha Clayton: My biggest challenge was trying to achieve the Olympic qualifying standard time for the 200 meter sprint. I had placed 2nd at the trials, so I was guaranteed a place on the team if I could achieve the “A standard” time.
The weather often plays a huge role in running fast times, and I needed a huge personal record in order to make my dream come true. In the run up to the qualifying session, I suffered a huge blow as I missed the time by 1/100 of a second—that’s the thickness of your shirt.
On the day of my final chance race, it was raining and I had been given the inside lane which is the worst lane for fast times. Worse still, I had dropped the baton in a relay event an hour earlier.
I needed to clear my head and re-focus, so I prepared by repeating my personal affirmation statement before stepping on the track: “I am ready, this is my time, it feels so great to be an Olympian.” I walked out knowing that, against all odds, today had to be the day. Everything came together and I smashed my personal record by 4/10ths of a second. It was the fastest 200 meter sprint time by any British athlete that year.
Wow. That’s inspirational. It can’t all be high-level competition, though, so how do you relax?
Samantha Clayton: Relaxation in my family means being outdoors, exploring new hiking trails and enjoying nature. I have a garden that I work on with the kids and I love to ride horses and walk our two old Labrador retrievers—Cleo and Marley.
Our newest family fun activity is going to a trampoline ‘bounce factory’ where adults and kids can jump and play dodge ball! My personal idea of relaxing is going on a family bike ride or paddle-boarding at the beach.
Sounds like fun. Thanks for your time, Samantha, and we’re looking forward to reading your blog posts right here on DiscoverGoodFitness!