Listen to this interviewThe Bulk Hackers robot can read Hellah's interview aloud for you (playtime 12 minutes and 34 seconds) 🤖
👋 Hi! Tell us about yourself and your training
Hey! My name is Hellah Sidibe and I’m 29 years old. I was born and grew up in West Africa, Mali but currently live in New Jersey. I’m a personal speed, agility and quickness trainer specializing mostly in soccer and training kids from ages three to 18.
I went to college at UMass Amherst and graduated with a degree in sociology. I played soccer throughout college and into the professional level. During my time at UMass, I met my partner of seven years who has become my YouTube partner as well. She does all of the filming, editing, creative direction, photography, etc. for my YouTube Channel and Instagram.
Through most of my life I’ve been surrounded by people involved in athletics and fitness so most of my friends are either athletes, personal trainers, or coaches. It definitely helps to be around and inspired by so many active people.
In 2017, I was inspired by a fellow YouTuber, Paul Wallace to try out running everyday. He set a goal to run every day of 2017 for just 10 minutes and after hearing about that I challenged myself to try it for two weeks.
After the first few days, I already changed my goal to one year and I’ve been running ever since. (Started May 15, 2017.) Aside from running and fitness, I’m really into cars. Paul Wallace is actually a car YouTuber. Sometimes in my spare time I’ll just go visit car dealerships, haha!
Currently, the only two brands I’m really working with are Gymshark and GoPro. I got to meet the founder and CEO of GoPro and got invited out to their 2019 creator summit! It was amazing. A couple of months later, Gymshark reached out to me and I joined as one of their first runners! It’s been so awesome working with brands I love. I feel really grateful.
⏱ Describe a typical day of training
My goal when I set out to run was that I had to run outside everyday no matter the weather. I’ve kept that alive so I’ve run over an hour in snow, rain, heat, etc. 2020 has brought an increase in mileage so I’ve been averaging 7.5 daily miles so far – so usually around 55-65 minutes daily. My goal is not to go below seven up until my run across the US (hopefully March 2020.)
Aside from my outdoor runs, when I get into the gym which can be between three and six days a week, I start out with a short treadmill run. I usually do 1-2 miles depending on how I felt about my outdoor run. I know that I’m going to be losing a lot of weight on my run across the U.S. so I’ve been trying to lift a little more lately and have been doing that two to five days a week.
I hadn’t really done weight lifting since before I started running but I want to preserve as much muscle as I can up until I leave for my run across the country. I’ve been doing a lot of leg and speed workouts, core, and have been throwing in some arm workouts as well. I usually do bodyweight or weights and here and there will use machines.
My favorite workouts are almost always bodyweight workouts. I’d say my workouts can last between 30 minutes and an hour. For the most part, I train alone but I have a friend who ran for USA track and field and we like to do speed work together once in a while.
I don’t do anything special before a workout but I always use my Theragun G3PRO and/or foam roll after runs and workouts. My recovery routine is quite lengthy sometimes but I always notice the positive effects it has on my next run.
My fitness bag is pretty empty: Towel, hydrate spark water bottle (tracks how much water you drink,) and my Theragun. I keep track of my runs and my training on my apple watch through their activity app but have just recently joined strava to share my runs.
👊 How do you keep going and push harder?
When I put my mind to something and tell myself I’m going to do something, I have no choice but to do it. I’ve always had a high level of commitment, which I’m really grateful for. Sometimes it gets hard but I just remember how I feel after I go out and give it my all.
I’ve never regretted a run or workout. Thinking about the feeling and the results you’re going to see from the work you put in is always worth it.
I like to think about goals as promises to myself. It’s usually easy for people to keep promises to other people but for some reason not themselves. When you set small goals and start accomplishing them, you start trusting in yourself and realizing that keeping your promises feels good and always results in amazing things.
When I have a day where I don’t feel like getting up and putting in work I just remember that I need to take advantage of my abilities. Making time for training is never an issue for me because it’s something I WANT to do.
Sometimes with travel I have to wake up super early to get my run in but I do it because I want to. The biggest challenge I faced was actually when I was traveling to Australia and had to keep my streak alive. I had to keep my watch and phone in the time zone that I live in and make sure I was still getting my runs in within the 24hr time span of the day there. It was funny because I had to run at such odd times in Australia but I made it work!
🏆 How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
At the moment, I’m training for my cross country run and have added some weight training into my routine. I haven’t done that since before I started my running journey but I know I’m going to lose a lot of muscle and weight throughout the journey and want to bulk up a bit before the start.
The main short term goal I’m focusing on is running across the United States. The plan is to run from LA to NYC this year and hopefully within 70 days.
I’m working with the nonprofit, SOLES4SOULS whose CEO is actually an ultramarathon runner. I chose SOLES4SOULS because I really love what they’re working toward. They believe that everyone deserves a good pair of shoes and I couldn’t agree more. I want to help raise awareness that 300 million kids worldwide are without shoes.
I have seen how the most amazing thing that’s ever happened in my life is mainly able to happen based off of putting on a pair of shoes and I want to help give that gift to those 300 million+ people in the world.
In the more long term future I’d love to grow my channel, keep challenging myself at things and inspiring others to do the same, own my own training facility, write a book, and travel more.
Everything that has happened in my life has brought me to where I am today and I’m living a life I absolutely love. If I could start my fitness journey over I don’t think I’d change anything.
🤕 How do you recover, rest and handle injuries?
My recovery routine is really important to being able to keep my streak alive. I started out just foam rolling and doing yoga but it’s evolved a lot over time. I got a roll recovery r8 and that was amazing for targeting more specific and harder to reach places than the foam roller could.
Before I did the NYC marathon, I was gifted the Theragun and that has been my biggest game changer on the recovery front. The thing is, while all these more expensive gadgets are awesome, there’s always a way to get a great recovery session in with almost nothing.
I recently did a video on how to roll recover with things like tennis, golf, base, or softball. It’s more about your technique and time spent rather than the actual tool.
Another thing I love to do is freeze a paper cup of water, peel the paper back so that the top of the ice is exposed, and roll that on sore areas. It works wonders!
Injury isn’t really an option for me so I have to take all precautionary measures I can to keep my body on track. I had a minor injury after trying out a new pair of sneakers that lasted about two months. During that time I would break my runs into two different runs throughout the day and lower my pace a bit. I had a certain mileage goal I was trying to hit so I had to figure out the best way for my body to be able to heal while also trying to reach my goal.
I’m also a huge believer that diet plays a huge role in recovery. I’ve seen a significant difference in how I feel the next day after eating a meal that incorporates rice, veggies, greens, and healthy fats like avocado or tahini vs a processed veggie burger and fries.
Many people may agree that food can play a considerable role in how you feel overall and it’s the same for me with how I recover and feel for my next run.
🍎 How is your diet and what supplements do you use?
Four years ago after watching the documentary, forks over knives on Netflix, I went vegan. Just straight up cut every animal product out of my life. I’ve never once second guessed my decision and never will. There’s no going back. I saw an immediate change in energy and mentality.
I’ve never tracked my eating and really believe that eating intuitively is what is best for me. I eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. I can always tell when I need to cut back on processed foods and throw in more greens, though. I don’t usually change my eating style too much but when I was preparing for the NYC marathon, I definitely carb loaded the week before. I was eating a ton of pasta and rice based meals.
The only supplement I’ll take is B12. I’ve never been deficient in anything else. I don’t drink protein shakes or anything but think I’ll have to add those into my diet once I start the run across the US.
One of the reasons I wanted to keep running was actually because I have always loved the aesthetic and feel of my on-season soccer body. I wanted that body year round so I don’t bulk and cut, I stay lean the whole year. I don’t drink coffee, tea or alcohol other than the special occasion like a wedding.
👍 What has inspired and motivated you?
I’m really inspired by other people’s stories and books. Some people whose stories have inspired me include my mom, Christian Guzman, Kobe Bryant (may he rest in peace,) Didier Drogba, Barack Obama, Kevin Hart, Nelson Mandela. A mix of athletes and leaders that make me want to be better all around.
Some books that have changed my life and my way of thinking include The Four Agreements, You Were Born Rich, The Secret, The Alchemist, and The Power of Now. Not exactly fitness focused but the teaching can be applied to any part of your life.
I have a video called 5 ways I stay motivated and my top way is definitely by reminding myself that I have the ability to run still so I need to take advantage of it while I can. Many people have had the same ability as me and then lost it. I never want to regret not using what I had while I could.
✏️ Advice for other people who want to improve themselves?
My best advice is to really figure out why you want to do something. What’s the real reason behind it. Make a list of all the things you want to get out of whatever it is you choose to do. Remember those things you wrote down and then execute. When you have a reason why, it’s sometimes easier to do.
I think of things as a promise to myself. When you start seeing that you’re keeping that promise it’s easier to keep going. Start slow, start small, make it attainable so that you don’t initially feel like quitting. If you don’t know how to do something, look it up or ask someone. People love to help and there are so many great resources online now.
🤝 Are you taking on clients right now?
I’m always open to adding new clients! I only take real life clients because I really feel like it’s so important to be able to train someone face to face and really get to know their needs and it’s really hard to gauge people’s skills without being able to watch them play.
One thing I try to do for all of my clients is sneak over to a game and see how they play in a game environment. You can be the best athlete when you’re one on one with me but it means nothing if you can’t translate that into a team setting.