Sanya Richards-Ross on the Five P's of 400m Racing (and Taking on New Endeavors)

In our latest episode of Fueling the Pursuit we had the pleasure of speaking with 4-time Olympic gold medalist and 400m American Record holder Sanya Richards-Ross. Sanya is a true renaissance woman, a champion athlete as well as broadcaster, TV host, entrepreneur, author, blogger, and more. 

Our episode focused on a couple key areas: competing well in high pressure races, the importance of sports psychology and mental training, creating a supportive environment, and her latest project, MommiNation. This post is about the last topic she shared with us: her five P's.

Sanya was trained by legendary 400 meter coach Clyde Hart, who also coached Olympic gold medalists Michael Johnson and Jeremy Wariner. Coach Hart based his 400 meter racing strategy on the "Four P's."

But for Sanya, this became more than a racing strategy. As she put it, "These four P's [are what] I live my life by now...they've helped me as I transitioned off the track." (But wait, where's the fifth P, you ask? Sanya sneaks that one in on her own!)

You can listen to her 2-minute explanation at the 44:30 mark or read my transcription of her explanation below.

Sanya Richard-Ross's Five P's 

Here's Sanya's explanation of Clyde Hart's "Four P's," including her additional "Fifth P." Note that it's not just great racing advice, but for Sanya it's applicable to all areas of life. All quotes are from Sanya's explanation during our interview.

First 100m: Push

"The first one is push. In the 400, you had to get out of the blocks as fast as you could. You have to forget all about the fact that you're running for 400 meters and get out as hard as you can.

And I have found that to be true, also, whenever I take on a new endeavor. You gotta push. You gotta take off. You gotta start. You gotta go for it."

Second 100m: Pace

"And then you gotta pace yourself. Knowing the 400, you couldn't run that same pace the entire time. You had to find a rhythm. You had to find a pace.

And it's the same thing when you're starting this new thing, too. You can't push the entire time or you're going to burn out. You have to find a rhythm that works for you to be able to do this thing at a high level."

Third 100m: Position

"In the 400, Coach Hart would say this is the most important. I think so in life as well. You have to position yourself for success. So whether that means moving, finding new friends, making sure the people you're surrounding yourself with are pouring into you and setting you up for greatness.

It's the same in the 400. You had, in the 3rd hundred, to get to the front of the race, position yourself to win."

Fourth 100m: Poise

"The final P is staying poised. In the 400, if you started to flail at the end of the race or started to lose it, it'd be hard for you to win. And I find that too, in life it's after you've done the hard work, you've pushed, paced, positioned, it's time to be poised and to trust all that you've done.

Stand in your truth and deliver that speech, or finish the race strong. The fourth P is equally important."

The Fifth P: Pray

"And then we always had a fifth, silent P, which was praying. And you do throughout the entire race that God will provide and is opening doors that you don't even see, and that the opportunities that are primed for you will come to you.

So, it's really the five P's, but I like to sprinkle that last one in at the end."


Again, the episode covered numerous topics of interest, including:

  • competing in high pressure competitions
  • the benefits of working with sports psychologists
  • how traumas can affect our ability to perform
  • creating a training environment for success
  • the support of parents and teams, and
  • MommiNation, her blog platform supporting black mothers

It was one of our best conversations and I encourage you to listen to the whole thing!