Today’s top athletes have a significant influence on society, particularly on young and aspiring athletes. Whether you seek inspiration to reach your fitness objectives or guidance to make important decisions that can shape your life’s path, the world’s most accomplished athletes and their perspectives on sports and life can undoubtedly provide valuable assistance.
Let’s learn a thing or two about life and sports from Sifan Hassan, one of today’s best female long-distance runners:
Who is Sifan Hassan?
Sifan Hassan is a professional middle and long-distance runner from the Netherlands. She was born in Ethiopia but became a Dutch citizen in 2013. Sifan has won multiple gold medals in international competitions, including the World Championships and the Olympic Games. She holds the world record in the women’s one-hour run, as well as the European records for the 5,000 meters and the 10,000 meters. Sifan is considered one of the greatest female distance runners of all time.
Other notable achievements
- 2021 Olympic Games (10,000m and 5,000m) – First
- 2019 World Championships (10,000m and 1,500m) – First
- 2018 Continental Cup (3,000m) – First
- 2018 European Championships (5,000m) – First
- 2016 World Indoor Championships (1,500m) – First
- 2015 European Cross Country Championships (Senior Race) – First
- 2015 European Indoor Championships (1500m) – First
- 2018 World Indoor Championships (3,000m) – Second
- 2016 European Championships (1,500m) – Second
- 2014 European Championships (5,000m) – Second
Awards and honors
- Dutch Athlete of the Year: 2018, 2019, 2021
- Dutch Sportswoman of the Year: 2019, 2021
- Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau: 2021
- European Athlete of the Year Trophy: 2021
Sifan Hasssan’s Training Format
Sifan Hassan achieved success and consistency through her intense training regimen. But how demanding was her training, and can an average athlete replicate it? Here’s a glimpse into Sifan Hassan’s typical weekly training routine:
Monday (Warm-Up Exercises)
- Easy 50 minutes, 6 x 150 m stride outs
Tuesday: (Easy Runs)
- Warm up
- 15-minute tempo run
- 20-minute run at a pace 30 seconds above one’s average mile pace for 5k
- 4x300m cutdowns, cooldown
- Warm-up exercises
- Easy 45-minute 6 x 150 m stride outs
Thursday (Hill Running)
- Warm-up exercises
- 60-minute hilly run
- 10-minute hilly grind
- 5×3-minute hilly charge
Friday (Stride Outs)
- Warm-up exercises
- Easy 45-minute stride outs
- 6 x 150 m stride outs
Saturday (Fartlek Training)
- Warm-up exercises
- Fartlek: Run at a 5k pace for 5 minutes, then run easy for 5 minutes. Next, run at a 5k pace for 4 minutes, followed by an easy 4 minutes. Continue with a 3-minute run at 5k pace, followed by an easy 3 minutes, and then a 2-minute run at 5k pace, followed by an easy 2 minutes. Finally, maintain a steady state for 30 minutes.
- 20 x 1 minute 5k pace, 2-minute easy run, 20-minute run at a steady state
Sunday (Steady Run)
- Long run, preferably 75-90 minutes
Sifan Hassan’s Daily Routine
Sifan Hassan’s daily routine revolves around her training, recovery, and nutrition plan. As a professional athlete, she typically trains for several hours daily, incorporating a mix of endurance runs, interval training, and strength exercises. In addition to her training, she also prioritizes recovery, which includes regular stretching, massage, and rest days. Outside of her athletic pursuits, she also enjoys spending time with friends and family and engaging in other hobbies and interests to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
According to Tim Rowberry, Sifan Hassan’s coach, she would exercise at around 10 a.m. during Ramadan, but due to fasting, she would not be able to consume any food or drinks until sunset. Despite a few exceptions, Hassan would typically adhere to her fast and have a large meal after sunset.
Sifan Hassan’s Nutrition Plan
Many have noticed that Sifan Hassan lost weight over the course of her current running career. But there is no clear evidence to suggest that Sifan Hassan intentionally tried to lose weight. As a professional athlete, she follows a strict training regimen and nutrition plan to maintain peak performance, which may result in changes to her body composition.
According to Tim Rowberry, Sifan Hassan’s coach, she mostly consumes milk and fruit, stays hydrated, and always takes protein shakes. Sifan incorporates fruits in every meal, so it’s mostly anti-inflammatory food like berries, chia seeds, walnuts, and salmon to improve recovery. In addition, she works with a sports nutritionist to ensure that her diet is well-balanced and provides the necessary nutrients for optimal performance.
Sifan Hassan on Motivation
Sifan Hassan is the very definition of persistence. During her Olympic run in Tokyo in 2021, she tripped with one lap to go in a preliminary heat of the women’s 1500m but got back up to continue the race. She ended up winning gold and becoming the first Netherlands female athlete to medal in a distance event. Sifan Hassan also made a historic achievement at the Olympics by winning medals in three arduous events – the 1,500m, 5,000m, and 10,000m.
“I think all of us, nobody has a perfect life…I tell people: When life is hard, you will see yourself like you never imagined before. Never give up”
On her marathon debut, Sifan Hassan claimed victory in the 2023 London Marathon. Despite facing an injury, she delivered a remarkable performance and managed to beat out Alemu Megertu of Ethiopia and the Olympic champion Peres Jepchirchir.
“I learned to be patient and just to run your own race…Just keep going as much as possible and maybe you will surprise yourself,” Hassan said at a news conference in 2023.
Hassan’s wins in the 2021 Olympics and the 2023 London Marathon were a testament to her hard work, focus, and unwavering belief in herself, even in the face of adversity. Her story is a reminder that success is not just about talent or skill, but also about the ability to persevere through challenges and setbacks. Her display of persistence is an inspiration to us all and a testament to the power of the human spirit.
In the Media
Sifan Hassan was included in the World Almanac and Book of Facts 2022 due to her achievements in sports as a Dutch and Ethiopian athlete. She was also featured in Richard Sutton’s Thrive: The Power of Resilience, a self-help book and a ‘resilience manual’ that aims to help readers realize their full potential.