Today it is our privilege to bring you an interview with Olympic Athlete, European and World 800m medallist, Shelayna Oskan-Clarke. We discuss Shelayna’s approach to training during the winter months, her advice on getting started with sports and fitness, her goals for the future, plus much more…
How did your passion for running begin and develop?
My journey into sport really began with a P.E. teacher in school – she was the one who first brought the girls in my class down to the track and set us free! I am not sure I would have discovered my inner athlete if it were not for the constant support and encouragement from my teacher and my school. I am incredibly grateful for her to say the least. Track felt like home because it provided me with stability, direction and I was surrounded my positive and passionate people who believed in me. Running helped build my sense of self, it made me independent and I was be able to focus on what I was doing for a period and forget the dysfunctions that were occurring at home.
What are your personal stand-out moments from your career so far?
I have a few stand out moments for a few reasons.
- Representing Great Britain at the Olympics.
- Not making the commonwealth team in 2014 really affected me for months and I contemplated giving up on my dream because I did not make that team. It made me question if I was capable. For me, this was the year that I would make the team, but this made me question my potential. A negative result combined with financial struggles and sacrifices made me question if I wanted to continue. Thankfully, time was a healer. I learned some lessons from this painful experience that helped me make the changes I needed that influenced my progression the following year.
- Placing fifth Beijing World Championships in 2015. Although, I didn’t win, I had surpassed all expectations and proved to myself what I was capable of and my performance was the result of all the hard work that I had been putting in with my team for years before. To some, I was an overnight success, but I had been working hard in the background for years. This experience was special. I went into the championship not ranked in the top 30 and I came out fifth.
- Becoming European Champion in 2019 in a home championships, I missed out on the gold in 2017 by 0.001 of a second so I really wanted to win the gold. I was dominant through the season and the leader going into the championship so winning was extra special because I proved that I could perform under pressure.
What does a typical week of training look like during the winter months?
Monday (am): 5mile run – along with shoulder, back and foot mobility exercises, strengthening exercises for the feet to limit injuries occurring and a core workout. (pm): 4 mile run or cross-train for time.
Tuesday (am): Tempo running (3-4 mile with 1min rec) and a weight session after a minimum of an hour recovery after track session. The weight session could include power cleans, squats, step ups, explosive jumps, arm and back exercises with higher weight and repetitions to build strength. (pm): Weights, a combination of general and specific individualized strength exercises and4 mile run or cross-train for time.
Wednesday (am): 5mile run – along with shoulder, back and foot mobility exercises, strengthening exercises for the feet to limit injuries and a core workout. (pm): 3mile run or cross-train for time.
Thursday: 5x800m 2min recovery or Fartlek session 15x 1min on and 1min off and a full body circuit for all round conditioning up to 30min in duration. (pm): Weights, a combination of general and specific individualized strength exercises and a 4mile run or cross-train for time.
Friday: Rest day.
Saturday: Hills: 6x3min with a jog down recovery and a full body circuit for all round conditioning up to 30min in duration.
Sunday: 10mile run.
What advice would you give to someone who is demotivated or doesn’t know where to start with getting into sport and fitness?
- Remember that the hardest thing is starting, it can only get better from there.
- I would say be kind to yourself and start slowly, if it is starting to feel overwhelming then start to focus on one thing that is in your control.
- Listen to your body! If you listen to your body, then you don’t set any expectation on yourself and you work within your limits through this process you become more in tune with yourself.
Are there any people, books, or experiences that you would be willing to share with us, that have really helped shape your mentality?
Carol Dweck mindset book. I love taking this book to competitions to help keep me focused and positive. It talks about talent versus hard work and mindset and is a great book because it reminds you about the power of your mind in achieving your success.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to take their passion and turn it into a successful business/ career?
Success does not happen overnight. The journey will be worth it, sometimes you will not feel it but stay dedicated and driven. Do not be afraid to make changes to your plan and trust your instincts. Be strong but also be open to learning from others.
What’s your approach to finding balance between goals in different areas of your life?
I would not say that I have been the best at finding balance in the past because I was so focused on achieving my goals that I struggled to find that balance. I would say that is a negative because this was all I knew how to achieve my goals. Now that I am more experienced and confident in my ability, I try to enjoy and appreciate the journey more. I realise now, that sometimes beauty is in the experiences that lead you up to the result that is also important.
Are there any specific principles that you try and live by?
Be kind, work hard and have no regrets.
What are you goals and plans for the future?
To make my second Olympics and get a medal.
Improve on my personal best time over 800m.