Posted on November 09 2016
Sirena Alise, 2016 Olympic hopeful and 2015 USATF National Champion Top Finisher. She’s an American Professional Hurdler currently training under Wes Williams and Rahn Sheffield, running for Wes Williams Elite.
“I like to self-reflect a lot but I’ve never thought about what I have actually learned from this self-examination,” said Alise, til now.
She knew why she went into Track and Field, specifically hurdles, but when she started talking about building a career during her sports journey, is when she found another purpose.
“I suppose all the stories I heard from my mom about her track experiences and the stories my grandfather would share about how she could have gone pro, sparked my interest,” said Alise. “Understanding the amount of stress my mom endured and the success she achieved made me want to be like her. Also, a friend of mine ran hurdles and I thought if she can do it, I can do it too.”
Alise had some resistance when transitioning into the sport from gymnastics because of a terrible lower back injury. Although she said, “I’ve always had a really supportive family that surrounded me and instilled in me that every decision that I made was my own, whether they agreed with it or not. I never felt that I couldn’t do something, physically, mentally or emotionally because everyone around me always told me I could anything.”
When Alise started excelling at the hurdles her coach, Rahn Sheffield said, “I don’t know how you are running that fast because you are doing a lot of things wrong.”
“I was doing so many things incorrectly in the race that it didn’t add up to how fast I was running. So, it was this compliment rolled up in a jab. An interesting way to talk someone into the sport, but it worked. That was when I decided to pursue my athletic career in track and field, " said Alise.
Alise uses Physiclo gear during her track workouts and has seen the difference in her training. “I use Physiclo with body weight circuits during the week. It is a great way to add a level of difficulty without adding weight,” said Alise. The last thing any athlete wants is to compromise their form when adding weight. Physiclo provides 10lbs of simulate resistance without impacting your form.
“One thing that I have realized about myself is how dedicated I am towards getting to where I need to go. In the aspect of finding sponsorships, I’m very resourceful when searching for companies to sponsor me on my journey and getting help,” said Alise. Something that most athletes experience when realizing the funds needed to train, compete and participate in meets, events or games.
“Learning, constantly, is what it takes to be an athlete. Not just from the physical standpoint but from the marketing standpoint, as well,” said Alise, when we asked her what she has learned about herself during her many years of being a competitive athlete.
Alise strongly said, “Doing research to understand what your angle is to be successful in the sport both athletically and from a marketing perspective is key.”
“First and foremost I think every athlete should ask themselves ‘why am I wanting to be a professional athlete?’ Second, write out 10 goals that you want to achieve during this journey, what are you willing to commit your time and energy towards?” said Alise.
“You are embarking on a life-changing path that you will have to make many sacrifices for, are you ready for that? Understanding why you are starting this journey and what your final end goal is will help you,” said Alise, regarding life lessons that will benefit you before, during and after your athletic career.
Alise emphasis’ the importance of making your goals unique to you. “One of your 10 goals doesn’t have to be making it to the NFL or the NBA, it could be getting to the highest level you can possibly obtain and sometimes that means not making a team.”
“Your milestones are just as great because they're YOUR level of success. There are so many stages of achievement you can reach as a professional athlete, it doesn’t have to be this huge platform where you have 20 million followers and everyone knows your name. Your athletic career doesn’t need to be going to the Olympics!” said Alise with a gust of enthusiasm. “It can be that you ran with the best, you competed in Europe for a year and you had a great time doing it – making an impact on X, Y, Z and gaining amazing friends.”
What we learned from Alise is to know what you want to do at the beginning of your career but also after it.
Alise used her knowledge and experiences to build a business that not only sustained her but also helped other athletes. “One aspect that I cater to is assisting athletes to learn how to use their platform to build a business and reputation. Most athletes only focus on their sport and when their athletic career is over they are without a backup plan.”
“Understanding why you are pursuing a livelihood in athletics can be helpful in building a profession simultaneously for when the time comes to go down another avenue,” said Alise. “That time will come, and you can’t wait till after your sports career is over to start on it, the time is now.”
Another point Alise honed in on was investments, “It’s really important to understand your finances and being financially literate. You don’t have to be making millions of dollars to accomplish amazing things. This is not just simply for athletes but for anyone going after a goal. Sitting down and budgeting what you need and don’t need is crucial.” Alise referred to this as, “You have to know when to trim off the fat!”
So, how does one focus on building a business while maintaining their trajectory as a professional or elite athlete? Alise shared a skillset that she acquired while working with her many coaches.
“The athletic mindset I have now is contributed to my gymnastics coaches and plays a big role in the standards I hold myself to today, said Alise. “Gymnastics is such a disciplined sport and my coaches instilled in me this ability to know and understand what my body is doing at any stage, at any time. You have to be confident in your abilities because the end result depends on it.” This mindset pertains to your body and your abilities.
“I’ve learned that I am a challenge to coach. Wes Williams, my track coach at Wes Williams Elite, would always banter with me about how I could do better during my training and what would help me improve during each workout.
As an athlete I think it’s crucial to have a coach that gives you feedback on what you are doing and who listens to your responses, takes note of what you have discussed and then follows through by doing the research to then return the next day with an answer,” said Alise.
“This relationship building cultivates creativity and helps you work within your means but pushes you out of your comfort zone.”
“My favorite saying from Wes is ‘Track is 90% physical and 10% mental. What controls the physical?’ It is my favorite quote I learned from him and is why I think we have such a great relationship,” said Alise.
“I’m always going to give a 100% and I expect that you are going to give the same 100%. If you fall short I am going to call you out on it and you may like it or you may not like it, said Alise. “But at the end of the day, I’m going to force you to be great because, in the end, I want you to be you to be great and I want to be great, so we have to be on the same page when it comes to the level of greatness.”
Focus on how to build relationships, how to teach yourself new things and understand your limits, both physically and the talents you have outside your sport. Alise teaches us how to use what you have and not to be afraid to change direction and ask for help.
Share what why you #CantResist being an athlete, training hard and encouraging others. Tag @GetPhysiclo and #CantResist to join the story on social media.