“I enjoy the freeness that comes with running. It’s super serene and comes naturally, even on my hardest workout days. I love the intense feeling of being competitive and pushing my body to its limits,” Ajee' Wilson says.
It’s her passion for running – and not being afraid to push her body to the limit – that enables Ajee to achieve such exciting heights in her career. The two-time Olympian currently holds the records for the fastest U.S. times in the 800-meter race – which she notes is the current highlight of her amazing running career.
“I’m most proud of being the indoor and outdoor American record holder and being part of breaking the 4 x 800 world record indoors,” Ajee’ said. “The times that I ran in both of those races were a surprise because I was so tuned in and hyper-focused on being competitive, the races just seemed out of body and effortless. It wasn’t until I finished that I recognized the significance of the moments.”
Ajee’s love for running first started with her family, growing up with her siblings.
“I grew up in Neptune, New Jersey, to a relatively big and athletic family. My dad is one of 15, my mom is one of 5, and I have four siblings,” Ajee’ said. “My younger sister Brietta is actually the one who got me into running at age nine. She’d come home raving about practice and friends, and I had to see what it was all about.”
If it was her younger sister that spurred her passion for running, then it was Ajee’s mother who instilled her resilient spirit – teaching Ajee’ how to overcome any hurdle that came her way.
“My mom was my biggest role model growing up, and still is to this day. By example, she taught me how to work hard, be resilient, and create happiness in my life.”
To better understand what drives the U.S. 800-meter star, we asked her to share her training and nutrition tips, how she is preparing to represent Team USA Track and Field in Tokyo, and her advice for staying cool under pressure.
Training and Nutrition
Ajee’ describes her health journey as one that’s very “intentional.” And her journey has evolved over the years as she has learned to better understand her body and its needs.
“Over my career I’ve become more intentional with my health journey,” she tells us. “After a poor season, and not feeling like myself in all of 2016, routine blood worked showed deficiencies were affecting my overall health and performance. So I started focusing more on how I was fueling and equipping my body for running. With age came increased workload and harder demands on my body, so I needed to change my routine to meet these new needs.”
Her routine now consists of working out most days of the week, ranging from 6-7, with one recovery day thrown in.
“I start the day with music, to get me pumped and ready for breakfast, and then start getting dressed and getting my bag packed for training (clothes, shoes, snacks, etc.),” she said.
Her workouts typically last two hours, after which she jumps into recovery mode, focusing on refueling after a workout.
“I eat a pretty balanced diet, and don’t have too strict of guidelines – just everything in moderation! I eat mostly fish and occasionally chicken, and make sure to include lots of leafy greens and iron-rich food,” Ajee’ says.
“Recovery is just as important as the work you’re putting in and refueling properly is essential to that process. Within a half hour of finishing my training, Thorne’s Amino Complex is one of my go-to recovery drinks and is perfect to start the process of repairing my muscles from the work I’ve just done. I’ll have a light snack to hold me over on the car ride home, usually a piece of fruit or energy bar, and then have a proper big meal within an hour of getting home,” she said.
Why She Trusts Thorne
Ajee’ first found Thorne when she was looking for a safe way to supplement.
“I came across Thorne through a recommendation from a trusted sports dietician. I explained my concerns about finding safe and effective products, and was pointed in Thorne’s direction,” she notes.
With the Tokyo Olympic Games just around the corner, we asked Ajee’ how she handles the pressure, her prep work, and what secrets she’s learned during her training.
“Under pressure, I lean into things that I’m sure about,” Ajee’ says. “Usually, I reflect on training, big/tough workouts, and remind myself that I’m prepared. I’ve done the hard work, now I just have to execute and know that giving my best, even if it doesn’t secure the win, is enough.”
Her advice for training is to keep track of how you feel over time as you progress through training sessions.
“I started doing this a few years into running professionally as a form of motivation. Sometimes it’s nice to have a visual of how far you’ve progressed and use that as inspiration for how much further you can go,” she said.
With Tokyo, she notes she hasn’t changed her approach much when it comes to training for a race. She puts her head down, trains hard, and simply focuses on improving the foundation she has built for herself.
“I’ve matured a bunch since the last Olympics and have learned to be a better athlete all around. I train harder, recover better, race smarter, and have been making small improvements day-by-day. There’s been a handful of injuries, along the way, lapses in training that were mentally hard to overcome – but thankfully I’ve always found a way to bounce back and rally,” she said.
For anyone looking for the inspiration to pursue their own fitness goals, Ajee’ offers one final piece of advice.
“Go wholeheartedly after your dream and fall in love with the process. The journey will come with ups and downs, so remember to be gentle and patient with yourself as you progress!”
To Ajee’ – and all other athletes preparing to compete in Tokyo – Thorne wishes you the best of luck as you prepare to compete on the world stage. July 28, 2021 | Jacob Terranova (THORNE)