MIAMI – It’s slightly jarring seeing Usain Bolt sitting. The world’s fastest man has a frenetic energy about him, placed somewhere between a coiled snake and Sonic The Hedgehog in a ball. And yet, there’s a calmness to that conservation of energy, as he peers beyond the horizon at any given time. He knows he can escape, he knows he has an exit strategy, he knows at any moment, he can teleport. Even motionless Bolt doesn’t fade; instead, there’s a glow, a rolling boil that brings you in and welcomes you.
There won’t be an Olympics this summer. That date has been pushed into 2021, and those seeking medals and the sort of fame that Bolt captured with his eight Golds over three games will have to wait. Everyone watching to find new heroes has to wait. Everyone’s waiting for something now. Bolt’s astounding run has been given new life on NBC Sports Network as they replay the best of the most recent games, and the fastest man alive seems even faster now, in motion as everything else is frozen.
UPROXX Sports got the chance to speak with Bolt the week of the Super Bowl from the Gatorade Bolt24 lounge, as he contemplated meditation, what’s next, and how sitting still just isn’t in his DNA.
Martin Rickman: I was just reading something this morning about Tyreek Hill potentially trying to do some Olympic qualifying. It had me remembering again that discussion about whether or not you would play wide receiver, way back.
Usain Bolt: For me, I told them especially if [Aaron] Rodgers called me, because I’m a Green Bay Packers fan. If he called me and said listen to me, one year, two years, I’m ready. I’ll do it. I’ll try. I’m a fan. I’m a Green Bay Packers fan so it would be good.
I’ve talked to Michael Phelps about this not too long ago that the hard thing for guys is trying to find that balance between training but also enjoying your life. And for him, he said it’s taken him years to almost de-program himself.
Yeah. I think, for me, I couldn’t survive that. I remember me and my coach when we started, we butted heads on the same thing because he wanted me to be on it, on it, on it. And I was like, coach, I can’t do this. If I don’t get a break from this, I’m going to go crazy.
So we kind of understood each other where he would let me, I would train, but I’ll do my own thing a little bit. And when he needs me to get serious, he was like, listen, we need these few months to be focused. And then I was, alright, cool, and I shut everything down, and I’ll focus on this work. So to be honest with each other, where it gave me my space to live a little bit at a certain time of the year. But I know where he’s coming from. It’s hard cause at some point, this is why at the end of my career, people wanted me to go on to this Olympics. And it’s hard because all my life, all I knew was track and field. I’ve been doing it since I was 10 years old. All I knew. So now I’m retired, I can live, I can do things, I can travel, I can go on vacations finally, and do things that I really want to do, man.
When you’re the fastest man in the world, slowing down isn’t always the easiest thing.
I don’t think I’ve actually slowed down. I think I do more work now, but I do have more time to, I can pick my schedule here. I can say this is when I just want to stay in Jamaica and chill, work with who I need to work with, or go on vacation with my girlfriend. We can chill, but it’s still busy.
That energy doesn’t stop. You don’t destroy energy. You just transfer it.
Transfer it, right.
My parents were down in Montego Bay not too long ago, and they were saying pictures of you are still everywhere. What does that mean to you to basically be carrying that flag with you everywhere you go?
It feels good. When you work as hard as I did to get to where I wanted to be, it’s something that people really appreciate the work that I’ve done, and they show their love. Even now, I go there, people I deal with appreciate what you’re doing. People are trying to get me back into track and field. “You should go back. Keep running.” So it feels good to know that people really appreciate me. It feels good.
Aside from traveling, what are some of the things that you like to put your energy in now? And what have you learned about yourself in this process of starting your next chapter?
I try to focus more on my charity work. I got more time than I had to do a lot more things. I can pick my schedule. It’s much easier. There’s so much going on in the world right now, especially with kids. It’s hard for them. So I try to help kids as much as I possibly can.
Yeah. I know you’ve been known to get on that Peloton bike every once in awhile. Do you have an instructor that you like?
Ally Love. Yeah. That’s the only workout I do really. I’ve tried a few at the start, but I think the reason why I got into it is because she’s kind of Caribbean. Every now and then, she gives me the nice, Caribbean vibe. I like it. I do it all the time.
Yes, it’s funny. So Phelps does it, Cam Newton does it, a few of the other guys I’ve talked to over the years.
It’s good. It’s right in my room. You just get up and get on it. For me, that’s why it’s so good. Because I think when you retire, it’s hard to get back into the gym because all you know all your life is work, work, work, work. So to me, having this in my room works out very well because you get up and you go, I really don’t want to work out today, but you go it’s there. Just give it 30 minutes and so it works out.
It’s taking control because working out can be work. But it’s also life, and it’s been life for you for so long.
Yeah, you got to keep fit. I noticed that I put weight on quickly now that I’m retired. I’m not working out. Nah, I need to work out. It’s strange just putting weight on. Every time I go on the scale, it just keeps going up. I say, no, I can’t do this. So now I’m taking control trying to stay fit so the Peloton works real well.
Recovery is so important when you’re doing what you do, but especially after you’ve been at this level and now you’re bringing it down to a certain place. What types of routines do you get into for recovery?
It’s not as stressful now. It’s just all about hydration. You’ve got to stay hydrated because I’m not competing at high levels. I don’t have to stretch out, I still get massages. At this point, it’s all about exactly the regular people now. You feel like you don’t need to hydrate, but you do. Especially if you live in hot-air climates, because a lot of people get dehydrated, and you don’t even know it. You need to keep drinking through the day. Water helps, but Gatorade helps a lot. For me, electrolytes are very important. No sugar, no artificial flavors. It’s what you need so I always try to get people, especially my friends, they go, you could just drink water. You can drink water all day and you can still be dehydrated. I said, I will explain something. The reason the Gatorade works is because of the electrolytes. You get back your energy, and then you feel good. They’ve learned [to listen to me] over the years.
It doesn’t hurt that it’s got your name on the bottle.
Yeah, yeah. It doesn’t hurt that I get free Gatorade. And they get the benefit. [Laughs.]