In this episode, I interview 3-Time Olympian Debbi Sullivan. We discuss about her shift from cross country to walking, her Olympic journey, what it takes to be an Olympian, to get from average to great, from good to great, and what that process looks like.
Debbi Sullivan is a 3-Time USA Olympian (1992, 1996, 2000) in the sport of Walking. She walked a World’s Fastest 1500 meter: 5:53, which converts to approximately 6 minutes and 18 seconds for 1 mile. Debbi was a former track and cross country runner in high school and college, before switching to walking in 1981. She is an 11-time national walking champion and has set (and broken) many American Walk Records along the way.
(02:36) When you hear the word successful, who’s the first person that comes to mind and why?
(03:16) What is it about Michael Jordan that attracts you to him and his work?
When an athlete looks like they’re having fun, you know they’re thinking positive and they will be successful.
(04:08) Debbi’s background
(05:26) What about your parents, what did they do for work? And where did you grow up?
(06:26) Where do you feel like you got your work ethic and athleticism from? I’m always curious about the combination between genetics and preparation and the work that you put in.
(08:12) Before that, you were a cross-country runner. When did the shift happen and was there a specific moment why you switched from cross-country to walking?
(10:00) So walking was almost just a therapy in preparation to going back to cross-country.
(10:34) I’m sure that a lot of our listeners are not familiar with the sport of walking. What did your preparation look like for becoming an elite walker?
(11:43) What did the typical week look like for you as far as your training routine?
(13:16) What would you say was the differentiator for you? What differentiates Debbi Sullivan from others in getting to that level? Was there a specific thing that you feel that you do better than others?
(16:30) You mentioned coaching, that’s a really important thing. You had a coach, then you actually coached yourself. Can you tell us the difference in performance from when you had somebody as a mentor and guide, and then when you tried to do it yourself as far as the work and the performance that you had?
Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise by K. Anders Ericsson
(19:03) Now, you do a lot of speaking. You talk a lot about exercise, the importance of nutrition, and mindset. Is there one or two takeaways that you hope that audiences will take out of your message?
You’ve got to look at the big picture.
(21:33) Is there a book, or couple of books, that have most influenced you, and what are they?
As A Man Thinketh by James Allen
(22:54) If you could go back and talk to your 21 year old self, what would you tell that person?