Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gals We Admire: Perdita Felicien

This Canadian career gal's impressive achievements make just about anyone stop dead in their tracks. Professional athlete Perdita Felicien is a well-known figure within the Canadian and international track and field circuits. Find out more about Felicien's intensive training regimen, and get her personal advice on how to overcome any hurdle in your career.

Name: Perdita Felicien
Profession: Pro Athlete-Track & Field 100m hurdles
Twitter handle: @PerditaFelicien

Describe your typical work day, from start to finish
How I start my day revolves around what my training session happens to be that day. Whether I have a hard sprinting day, hurdles or weights all dictate everything from: What I have for breakfast, what shoes I wear to the tights I put on. My job is at an oval office literally but not the one most think of. I’m a sprinter so the first thing I do is prep my mind for the training session to come, then I make a good breakfast of oats or eggs. I pack my practice nutrition, check the weather forecast and head out to the track.

I start with a warm up of drills, jogging, muscle activation exercises and that takes about an hour. I then begin the various parts of my training which my coach guides. On a hurdle day we focus on technique and clearing hurdles while focusing on a certain cue. Other days is speed endurance and I run intervals of 150m to 300m with five to six minutes rest for three to five runs at maximum effort.

The most important aspect of my job that a lot of track athletes like to skip or at least skim is the cool down. It takes everything for me to cool down properly when all I want to do is go home and sleep. But a proper cool down of six to eight 100m brisk strides or a two lap jog is important to help jump start my recovery for the next day.

The end of my session usually has me chugging down some protein drink, most taste nasty but are essential for recovery. After three to four hours on the job I then head out where I’ll take an ice bath, get a massage or chiropractic treatment. All of this can easily take another three hours before I’m free.

My job is a lifestyle really, so I’m never really “off”. I cook my own meals on most days and for lunch I like a sandwich on whole grain bread, for dinner chicken or fish with brown rice and veggies.

By the evening my coach would have uploaded video for the day’s session and I’ll be able to look over it with his feedback.

Before I know it, it’s time for bed and I shall rinse and repeat the next morning!

When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
I had ambitions to be a writer, I loved to tell stories and putting pen to paper. I attended a lot of literary guilds when I was in elementary school, where each school picks one student and all the children from that grade in the region with the best stories get together. I’ve kept a journal ever since I was a kid and I find writing very cathartic.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the travel, I’ve seen the world many times over, I’ve been to every continent except Antarctica and it’s pretty hard to hold a track meet there! Some of my favourite places to compete in are Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and Jamaica.

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in your profession?
Staying healthy is a lot of work; an injury is always looming it seems because we push our bodies so hard all year round. No matter what you do you always need a bit of luck. Getting injured affects your training, confidence and no play means no pay in my sport.

Do you believe you had a "calling" for your profession?
My mom would say yes to this! I stopped running in high school for a couple years and she nagged me to go back and give track another chance. I was reluctant for a long time, but when I went back I had instant success and earned a full scholarship to the University of Illinois. I think she always knew this was what I was meant to do and felt it was her motherly duty to see it happen, long before I ever did.

What are the three most important pieces of career advice you would give to other Canadian Career Gals?
Always know who you are. It’s easy to get caught up on how others might perceive you, or act a certain way based on your job. At the end of it all, for me, knowing my core values, and who I really am as a person are so important. Especially in the face of hard times or others not believing in your ability to succeed or persevere.

I love the quote “In the end it will be okay, if it’s not okay, it’s not the end”. I think that is brilliant! Find reasons to believe and think positively in your every day. Who knows why it’s sometimes easier to be a party pooper, to see things negatively or make excuses. Work to always see the glass as half full and not half empty.

A girl needs treats! If you meet a goal, avert a disaster or simply got the kids to school on time that morning reward yourself. Don’t wait on the boss, your partner or the universe to give you a pat on the back. Do it yourself! And that pat may be in the form of a red velvet cupcake (the favourite kind of pats!), some guilt free "me" time or that fresh new hair cut. Whatever it is when you’ve done something super great or super simple but still miraculous, the hard work deserves reward!


  1. Great article. I admire Perdita a lot. She's not only an amazing athelete but seems always composed and classy.

  2. I completely agree with Perdita about rewarding yourself. We seem to want rewards from other people instead of ourselves. So tomorrow I'm getting that red velvet cupcake (because, like PF, they're my fav as well).
    Great interview! Great athlete!