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“JJ (Clark) helped me realize: ‘You have to let high school go. This is a new chapter. It’s a new environment. You’re away from home. Your body is changing. There’s a lot going on. Everything you achieved in the past four years was amazing.’ He didn’t want to take that away from me but he said, ‘Let’s start over.’ That’s what a lot of high school phenoms do. It’s natural. You carry what you’ve achieved into college but my biggest advice would be to embrace this new chapter and know that it’s completely different. Everybody is good. Everybody is a state champ. Find a coach that cares about you more than just a runner and athlete – someone who wants to walk this new journey with you. Because it is going to be a journey and there will be highs and lows. You can’t do it alone. You’re young and so you need that support from someone older and wiser who is going to be patient with you. There will be breakthroughs but give your body time. I wish I would have known that as 17-year-old Chanelle.”
Chanelle Price joins the podcast to detail how she’s been able to come back among the country’s best 800-meter runners. She was the 2014 World Indoor 800 meter champion but has raced sparingly in recent years since she suffered multiple setbacks in her training including a pulmonary embolism leading to blood clots in her lungs, a battle with mono and a foot fracture. Despite the struggles, she has refused to retire and wants to give the 2021 Olympics a shot.
In this episode, we’ll run through her career from being a high school star out of Easton, Pennsylvania through her identity crisis and development at Tennessee to her rollercoaster of a professional career. She shares why things are now going well right as a member of the Nike Oregon Track Club and racing amid a global pandemic. She’s got tremendous resiliency. Enjoy.
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• Adjusting to a new training group and coach with Oregon Track Club and Mark Rowland – “I’m really excited to be a hometown girl when I do get to run at Hayward”
• Favorite Hayward Field memory at 2008 Prefontaine Classic – “I was so young and so naive. You couldn’t tell me I wasn’t going to win the race. I took the lead. Looking back, I was insane for doing that. I was racing the Maria Mutola but I didn’t care. I was fearless. I was 17. That is definitely probably the best memory I’ve had there. Hopefully, that changes next year.”
• Her longevity in the sport and specifically the 800 meters, which she has been running at a high level since 2005.
• When did she start to love the 800 meters? Why is the 1,500m and mile so challenging? – “People say the 800 is the hardest race. The mile is, for me, very mentally tough.”
• Learning how to race even at 29 years old – “I was very obsessed with splits in the past because I was a front runner. Mostly with my previous coach JJ, it was if you’re going to front-run then let’s hit these splits and feel this rhythm. I feel like my new coach is trying to get me away from that and teach me how to actually race.”
• What is like for an athlete to pick up and change coaches and adjust to a new philosophy?
• Remembering her first Olympic Trials experience in 2008 as a high school senior – “Just being there as a 17-year-old was an accomplishment in and of itself. It was a lot of fun. Looking back, I wish my coach would have let me play ‘catch me if you can.'”
• How she felt professionals perceived her success as a high schooler and competitor
• Her own expectations for her at Tennessee and why she felt like a “failure” for the early part of her career as a Vol.
• Why did she want to continue running after college despite making minimal improvement in personal bests? – “Companies are going to look at me and say, ‘She hasn’t really progressed. She may be burnt out. She may be washed up.’ I understood that. I was smart enough to realize that. But, I wasn’t ready to give up.”
• Her obsession with making the 2013 World Championships team and why it was bad for her. – “Someone people can be one-dimensional with track, track, track, track. I learned that year that I can not be. I just burnt out mentally and physically.”
• Her introduction to her faith and why that changed the course of her career – “It was just life-changing for me. It was a weight that was taken off my back. I think that’s why I had so much success in 2014 because I was just like, ‘I’m going to have fun with this again like I did in high school. I’m not going to put all this pressure on myself. I’m not going to try to prove anything to the world.’ My self-worth is not dependent on how I perform on the track. Yes, I want to win. Yes, it’s OK to want to win. But, my value is not based off the outcome of a race, which for the majority of my life that’s what I had based my value as a person on.”
• What did winning the 2014 World Indoor Championships do for her confidence? – “It was the momentum I needed to keep going. It was a very dark collegiate career. 2013 was tough. 2014 was the breakthrough moment that I so desperately needed.”
• 2015 was a year where the U.S. women’s 800-meter distance was one of the toughest teams to make. Running 2:00 barely got you into the final of the U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Championships. Price finished 5th. – “Talking to you and when I look back, I’m like ‘I do well when I’m free and I don’t have that pressure. The following year, 2016, I did start becoming that obsessive Chanelle again and just did not have a good year. This interview is fun because it’s reminding me that I just need to stay relaxed.”
• Why 2015 was her best summer where she broke two minutes for the 800 on five occasions and then paced the world record in the 1,500 meters by Genzebe Dibaba in Monaco
• How has the 800 evolved from Alysia Montaño’s dominance through the rise of Ajee Wilson as the country’s biggest stars?
• The start of a three-year battle with ailments and injuries started with blood clots in her lungs and collapsing at practice
• A broken foot in 2018 led her to start thinking whether she would continue running – “That was when I started to really doubt. It was after the second break. But, I don’t know, something deep down inside was like ‘No. You’re not done.’ I can’t really explain what it is. I just know there’s some untouched potential that I really, really want to tap into.”
• “They did pose the question, ‘Will you have regrets?’ I said, ‘I think I will.’ I don’t want to live the rest of my life thinking, ‘What if…’ What if I would’ve kept going? I think that really helped.”
• How she convinced Mark Rowland to take a chance on her despite her injury history
• How she’s managed to turn on the switch for virtual races
• Can the 2014/2015 version of Chanelle Price make the 2021 Olympic team? – “I honestly think I’m going to have to be better than I ever was before, which is why I’m so thankful for this extra year under Coach Ro. The depth of the women’s 800 in the U.S. is phenomenal. I think I’m gonna have to take my game to another level to make that team. I’m just excited to see and push myself to do that.”
Women’s Running: “I Am Tougher Because of What I Went Through”
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