Men’s Fitness caught up with London 2012 gold medal hopeful Tyson Gay between sprints at his home base training facility outside Orlando, FL just days out from his 100-meter showdown against reigning fastest-man-in-the-world Usain Bolt. Gay discusses his training, nutrition and mindset leading up the most important race of his career.
You were battling with a hamstring injury for a while. How are things now?
Yeah, I’ve definitely gotten over that. Now my hamstrings are real strong and real healthy. I’ve had a couple setbacks because of my hip surgery that I had last year so I’m doing everything to take caution. It’s almost fully recovered—it’s just dragging along.
What does your daily training schedule look like?
I get up in the morning at around eight and head over to the track. I do rehab work, abs and some stuff for my hip flexors. Then I do my drills and some easy strides. After that, around noon, I go into the weight room and lift weights for an hour, a little bit longer maybe. Then I go outside and do grass runs.
What does your weight room workout look like?
I’m doing more power lifting in the weight room, and before that I usually do some auxiliary lifts with the machines. I’m doing a lot of deadlifts and front squats. I’m doing a little bit of endurance lifting as well just to work my tendons, and I do a couple Olympic lifts like power cleans, too.
How are you structuring your reps and sets for maximum power gains?
I’m doing four sets of six when I’m lifting for power. I’m always trying to get stronger. Some days I may do higher reps.
What’s your toughest workout or drill?
One of my toughest workouts would be on the track and it’s called a “400 Breakdown.” That’s where you run 300 meters, rest for 30 seconds, and then run 100 while you still have that lactic acid buildup. So you have two sets of those and then after that you do mat runs. Basically, you stand on a high-jump mat and do four sets of high knees for 30 seconds, and then as soon as you get off there you have to run 200 meters on the track with all that lactic acid still in your legs. You don’t look forward to doing it, but when you do it you really see the benefits.
Sounds tough. What kind of diet do you have fueling your training?
I’m on a very high-protein diet. I’ve added more fruits and vegetables to my diet because I’ve been going so heavy on the meat and carbs that I have to take it a little bit easier. I consume over 3,000 calories a day.
What kinds of supplements are you taking these days?
I’m drinking EAS Myoplex protein right now. I do krill oil. I haven’t done glutamine this year. I do BCAAs, carbs and creatine, and I just stick to that.
Which events do you have your eye on for London?
I’m not going to worry about the 200 meter. I’m just going to focus on the 100 and go from there.
How are you working on improving from the 2008 Games?
I’m more patient, more of a perfectionist. I’m focusing on every stride. I’ve been trying to open my stride. It’s all about being healthy and working on what you have to do to get stronger and try to reach your full potential.
Is dethroning Usain Bolt priority No. 1?
I try not to focus on him too much because there are a lot of up-and-coming sprinters who are just as talented, so it’s just about having faith and doing the best you can. I try to take it one day at a time. I try not to think about the Olympics so much.
Do you think we’re approaching the ceiling in terms of how fast humans can actually run?
It’s about your mindset from the beginning. If you can get that mindset that you can get faster then it can happen as long as you’re patient. You can reach your full potential. If you look at the women in track and field, no one’s really come close to the world record; they believe it’s so far out that they don’t think they can do it, and I think that stops them from reaching their full potential. A lot of guys think they can do it and that keeps them pushing.
How do you personally push the envelope?
I do a lot of speed work, like 60s and 30s, and things for my acceleration, like block starts. One thing is to run longer than your event. If you run the 100, then you’ll run 200s and 300s to have a longer base under you.
What is the most exciting part about London for you?
I came up empty handed in my last Olympics, so going there healthy and knowing I have a fair shot at bringing home a medal excites me. I’ve had my ups and downs, I’ve had some setbacks in training. For every great outcome you have to have a great story as well, so I’m just hoping to have a great story to know I kept fighting. I pushed through a lot of things, like my surgery last year and so forth. It’s tough. You’ve just got to have that faith and keep pushing. You’ve got to surround yourself with positive people who know what you’re capable of doing.