In our new series Going for Gold, athletes heading to Rio open up about the mind-body practices that keep them going and help them win.
Alexi Pappas is really, really good at running.
The 26-year-old long-distance runner, who's gearing up to compete in Rio for Greece's national team—Pappas was born in the United States, but she's of Greek descent and has dual citizenship—can run 10,000 meters in 32 minutes. Just to break it down for you, that comes out to a five-minute mile.
Blown away? Well, you're about to be even more impressed: Pappas is also a filmmaker, poet, and actress. She stars in the movie Tracktown, which premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June and was slightly based on her life.
So, how does she do it all? Delicious food, meditation, and a whole lot of sleep.
Here's what you should know about what makes Pappas tick:
She's all about protein (yes, that includes red meat).
"I use Beet Boost beet powder, Wild Friends peanut butter on Great Harvest toast, and GenUCAN before all my big workouts and races. After training, I make sure to get plenty of protein and iron—I eat red meat at least two times per week!"
She prioritizes sleep and meditation.
"I sleep at least nine hours every night, and then I nap for about an hour each day between training sessions. I meditate two times per day—once before morning practice and once after my afternoon nap. If I am going to cross train, I usually opt to take a nap instead. When I'm not running, I'm most often at home being quiet, eating, and often asleep."
She uses makeup in an interesting way.
"I use sunscreen and facial moisturizers every day. My dad always taught me to use sunscreen, even in the dead of winter. I wear sunscreen when I train and makeup when I race—makeup makes me feel like I'm about to begin a performance. And running is a kind of performance!"
Running makes her feel beautiful. So does taking care of herself.
"I feel most beautiful right after a hard workout, when I take my dusty, sweaty hair down and drive my Jeep to a nearby creek for an ice bath. I shower twice a day because I run twice per day—I make sure to use plenty of moisturizer and sunscreen to keep my skin healthy! I try to use quality shampoos and leave-in conditioners. I also like to change it up and not always use the exact same product. A bit like changing my workouts, it's important to keep my hair on edge!
She's got an insider tip you need to know about.
"Take off the wet sports bra after the run. Never ever leave it on!"
She has an awesome mantra.
"Run like a bravey, sleep like a baby, dream like a crazy, replace can't with maybe, lady."