Chanelle Price stands out as a force to be reckoned with among elite American runners. The track star is training at full speed ahead with hopes to make the 2017 World Outdoor Team, as well as taking strides towards the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, where she hopes to land a spot on the podium.
(Ph. credit: IAAF.org)
As a teenager, Chanelle ran the second fastest time for a high school female ever. Shortly after, Gatorade dubbed her Athlete of the Year. Just when it seemed like the sky was the limit, suddenly everything came to a screeching halt. Soon after starting college, injuries began to slow her down. But instead of losing hope, she looked inward — and found her faith.
It was during those tough years that she began to treat running as more than a talent but rather as her gift to work hard and use the skill to glorify God. As Chanelle developed a deep spiritual identity, she completely reinvigorated her training and managed to exceed her past accomplishments; including winning the gold for the 800 meters in the World Indoor Track and Field Championships in 2014.
In addition to her astounding athleticism, my interview with Chanelle depicts how the highs and lows of her career helped her tap into her spiritual self and get her to where she is today.
As an athlete, I always wonder how the elites train hard but know where their stopping point is. I asked Chanelle how her past injuries taught her how to find the line between training hard but avoiding getting hurt.
“In college, I would never speak up when I felt pain,” she begins. “I always waited until it was too late to tell my coach that something didn’t feel right with my body. Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve learned to speak up right away when something feels off. I’d rather sit out for a few days than wait until the injury gets so bad that I have to sit out for weeks or months.”
For someone with an insatiable drive to be the best, it’s important to know when to surrender to rest. I wondered what Chanelle’s queues were on when to take it easy.
“This is something that I am still working on,” she tells me. “I have the type of personality and drive where I’ll go hard every single day! But my current coach, Ricky Soos, has definitely taught me the importance of rest and recovery. With that being said, I still have the tendency to want to overdo it sometimes, so Coach Soos does a good job of holding me back when it’s necessary to do so.”
It sounds like the key to pushing her training to the limit involves the watchful eye of a great coach that understands how to develop strategies to keep his runners strong but not overextended.
(Ph. credit: Spikes – IAFF)
In addition to learning how to navigate injuries, there was a period of time when Chanelle also learned how to train hard while holding down not one, but two, part-time jobs. That’s another point in her life when she began using her spirituality to overcome obstacles.
It was the busiest she had ever been, but she describes it as the happiest: “I approached it with great peace.”
And when it might have seemed like work stress could have easily interfered with training, Chanelle stayed determined, despite a heavy schedule. “There were times when I was overwhelmed and exhausted to the point of tears,” she admits. “But I would play my gospel music, repeat my favorite scriptures, and remind myself that to whom much is given much is required.”
To whom much is given much is required. That line perfectly encompasses Chanelle’s entire demeanor and approach to life.
She goes on to explain that holding down two jobs outside of running actually helped — not hindered — her performance. It diversified her mental energy, so that she wouldn’t get too wrapped up in athletic performance day-to-day. “It is so easy for me to get caught up in running to the point where it drains me,” she says. “It is necessary for me to have a nice balance if I want to perform well on the track.”
I can completely relate. In my own running I can easily become so transfixed on just getting better that I end up getting in the way of my own progress. I asked Chanelle what other ways she has kept herself occupied outside of training.
When she trained at University of Connecticut, she took graduate school classes. “Having my studies to focus on definitely took some of my attention off of track,” she says. Then, when she moved to Phoenix to train, Chanelle immediately got involved with a church.
Chanelle’s college injuries distanced her from the glory she had on the track in high school, and she began to question what was going to happen in her athletic career. Luckily, it was her college coach, JJ Clark, who kept her going. “My faith was not strong back then, and when I did not run well or I was injured, I was SO hard on myself,” she says. “I would lose hope, and often times I felt depressed and just wanted to give up. But Coach Clark would always sit me down and talk me out of my slumps. He is a man of strong faith, and if it was not for him, I would have given up on running a long time ago.”
The idea that Chanelle was able to pull herself up from those challenges had me wondering about the relationship she built with God. I asked her what kind of habitual practices became part of that spiritual connection she developed.
Chanelle has integrated her praise into her daily in many ways; She begins and ends each day with prayer, attends church every Sunday, reads several books by Joyce Meyer, participates in weekly bible studies, has spiritual mentors, memorizes key scriptures, and blasts gospel music in her car or apartment.
One thing that stood out to me is the way Chanelle describes a specific way of running — holding onto a prayer in her heart; She keeps her running spiritually driven. Even in times of external pressures or with a challenging training schedule ahead, she reminds herself that her running is her God-given talent. In fact, she alleviates some of the pressure or fear by using her running as a way to glorify God.
“The only thing God requires of me is that I give my all.” Chanelle says. “He’s not concerned with the time, the place, the medals, the records, or any of that. He just asks that I serve Him with all of my heart. When I approach my training and competitions with this mentality, I feel free and I have a blast!”
(Ph. credit: The Morning Call)
Chanelle describes the moment that she signed with Nike and became a sponsored athlete as “a dream come true.” She goes on to tell the story of how, at a running camp in high school, she was asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. “I told them I was going to be a professional runner for Nike. They all looked at me like I was insane. I felt such great joy when I reached this goal. I remember crying in my parents’ arms.”
Today, those parents have their daughter’s gold medal hanging on the mirror in their bedroom in Easton, PA. “I could not have achieved the success I’ve had thus far in my career without the support of my parents, so I chose to leave the medal in their possession.”
Her parents have guided and nurtured her athleticism greatly, but I was eager to find out who else Chanelle looks up to.
“I have always admired Wilma Rudolph. She persevered through so much adversity, and her story keeps me motivated. The Clark sisters (Jearl Miles-Clark, Hazel Clark, and Joetta Clark) are like family to me. They have mentored me and inspired me throughout my career.”
In the next few years, there’s no doubt that the world will marvel over Chanelle’s strength as she zooms around the track and continues to achieve great things. Eventually, Chanelle sees herself starting a family and her own business, and writing a book. I can’t wait to read that book, and I know that her voice will continue to inspire thousands of athletes around the world to find what activity makes them carry a smile in their hearts. It’s safe to say Chanelle is one of my greatest inspirations on my own track to being the best that I can.