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Mechelle sprinting down stairs

When Mechelle Lewis Freeman was a kid, her favorite thing was racing. She’d throw down her jump rope, turn to her twin, and yell, “1-2-3-go!”

“Everyone always knew my sister and me as ‘the fast twins,’” Freeman recalls of their childhood in Oxon Hill, Md. “We’d run in the street, light pole to light pole. Eventually, we played basketball and soccer — and all that street racing meant we were fast in all of it.”

Once Freeman began formal training, she got really fast. Like world-championship-gold-medal-for-the-4-x-100-meter-relay-in-2007 fast. Like compete-in-the-2008-Olympics fast.

These days, Freeman channels that same energy and dedication as the founder of TrackGirlz, a non­profit that provides access to mentorship, higher education, and sport through girls-empowerment programs. “We use track and field as a vehicle to empower girls mentally and physically through our workshops and grants.”

She also serves as the assistant relays coach for the USA Track and Field national teams.

Freeman’s most important role, though, is being “Mom” to her two young kids. “Raising them is what my husband, David, and I are focused on right now, and that takes more time than we have some days,” she says. “I juggle things from the moment I open my eyes to the moment I close them. It’s being OK with that and doing what we can.”

These are some of Freeman’s tried-and-true tricks for staying on track while going at full speed.

Prioritizing sleep:  “I prioritize sleep most days. Sleep is so important — for performance, for clear thinking, for everyday function, and for getting ready for big things.”

Writing it down:  “Every day I make a checklist, because I need to know what’s going on with so many moving parts. I start with a notebook and write down everything that’s in my head. My checklist is then created from this. It’s important to create a system to encourage action.”

Taking nature breaks:  “Almost every day, we take the kids on a walk around the pond near our home. They love throwing rocks in it. The most important conversations happen on those walks — the things you wouldn’t talk about when you’re in the house. It’s so important to make space for those things to come up.”

Recognizing flow: “Our bodies are handling so much stress these days, and that can prevent us from experiencing, offering, and giving to our full potential. Spend time doing things you truly enjoy to get back into flow, recognizing that your full potential lives in your joy.”

Sneaking in the veggies:  “My kids are not the best at eating vegetables on their own, so I always make sure we have items for smoothies on hand. Then if I realize the kids haven’t had any veggies or fruits, I just throw everything in the blender. They love it, and I’m like, ‘I got those veggies in you!’”

To hear more of Freeman’s story, listen to “Uncommon Courage With Olympian Mechelle Lewis Freeman.”

This article originally appeared as “Moving Fast” in the April 2021 issue of Experience Life.

Photo by: Jill Richards
Dara
Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl

Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl is a James Beard Award–winning food and wine writer based in Minneapolis, where she lives with her two children and buys only local honey.

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