Allison Halverson: Training to Qualify - A Mom's POV

Hurdles athlete Allison Halverson

Superfeet is proud to support elite Track & Field athletes on their journey toward the 2024 Paris Olympics and beyond. Everyone from sprinters and hurdlers to discus throwers and pole vaulters all trust Superfeet to help them perform at their best, and each have a story as unique as their sport. Here is their story in their own words.

Written by Allison Halverson

400m Hurdles

You might be wondering, why is a 31-year-old mom still training to qualify to compete in the Olympics? Well, it’s by the grace of God that my dream never died when my husband and I decided to have a baby. 

I never saw myself still competing after starting a family, but God had other plans. Back in 2019, I pursued getting my Armenian citizenship; I am half Armenian on my mother’s side. When I decided to change my country allegiance from the US to Armenia, I was told I had to sit out three years by the World Athletics Committee, even though they said I met every single criteria to represent Armenia. To be fair, it is their set policy to wait three years when changing allegiance, but over 90% of athletes get that waiting period waived so I assumed I would too. 

In 2021, the new Olympic year, I appealed the decision to wait the 3 years, pleading with the panel to let me compete this last season so that I can start a family after the 2021 Olympic Games. In my appeal, I told them that waiting to start a family until after the following Olympics (2024) would put me and my babies more at risk the older I get. The panel, one month before the Olympics in 2021, got back to me and told me how having a family was a personal decision and didn’t impact my eligibility - they never answered why I had to serve the three-year waiting period but nearly all other athletes who switched allegiances didn’t have to wait. It really broke my heart. In a society where we are now starting to treat Moms with more respect and give them more credit for what they do and opportunities for pursuing their goals, the World Athletics Committee had no empathy for a future mom like me who was just asking for the same treatment nearly everyone else already gets.

While sitting at home watching the Olympics on TV in 2021, my neighbor's mom was in town and she heard about my dilemma of wanting to compete in the Olympics but also starting a family. She told me God wanted me to have a baby and that I will go to the Olympics and so will my baby. She told me that when God has something for you, no one can take it away, not even having a baby. Since I had to sit out 19 more months, my husband and I prayed about what to do, and we felt like God was telling us to have a baby. 

I always thought I’d retire after the 2020/2021 Olympics, but I didn’t want to end my career on this note. Even though I never thought I’d train after becoming a mom, I wanted to obey and trust that God had this planned out better than I did. We took a leap of faith, without knowing how it would all work out, in hopes of having a baby with plans of training again for the 2024 Olympics. Immediately, we got pregnant and in April 2022, I gave birth to our beautiful son, Beau. 

I want to emphasize that we had no plan for getting back into elite shape… we just trusted that God would open the right doors at the right times if this was in fact His plan.

With no family to help watch our son, and no training group to train with, we started training as a family in the fall of 2022! I’d workout during my son’s nap or around my husband’s work schedule. When we could make it work, we’d all go to the track or gym together. 

Things were tough to start. I was switching from the heptathlon to just doing the 400m Hurdles which I’d done in college, but never trained for specifically. I was also trying to lose 25 more pounds to get to my pre-pregnancy weight. I was trying to master a new event while having to train with a body I wasn’t used to that was always changing… on top of it all I didn’t have a coach to help me figure it all out. 

Then, things started to fall into place. First was finding a house to rent that was big enough for all three of us. We randomly found an amazing home, but they selected a different applicant to move in instead of us. We were bummed, and then we got a call saying the other people backed out at the last minute and we could move in! It was a perfect place to train; I live a five-minute walk to a lake that is roped off for lap swim, the neighborhood is safe and beautiful to run around, there is a great big hill on my street to do repeat sprints on, and there is a gym with a 60m track less than a mile from my house. Lastly, the church we go to with all of our friends that have babies is a mile from our house. 

I also reached out to a supplement company to help me make sure I was getting the right amount of vitamins to help me perform my best and lose my pregnancy weight. The CEO of the supplement company ended up calling me, and now I get a great deal on the supplements and he even put me in touch with one of the world's best strength and conditioning coaches, Malcolm Gwilliam who owns a gym called Source Performance. Malcolm emailed me and he has been writing my lifting program for the past two years!

My first year of competing was definitely a learning curve; I was getting faster on the track but making errors in my hurdling. I ended the season with a 1:01.98 in the 400m hurdles and 55.64 in the open 400m. I was very proud of myself for getting back down to my pre-pregnancy weight and for lining up against girls that were world-class. I even got to compete in Poland with Team Armenia where me and the mixed 4x400m relay team broke the Armenian national record and won our heat, beating team Azerbaijan, the country currently engaged in conflict with Armenia.

For the 2024 season, I knew I needed a hurdle coach and training partners but didn’t know where to find them and didn’t know how I would train with a group while being a stay-at-home mom. One day I was getting acupuncture from Amy Acuff. You may know of her, she is a five-time Olympian for the US in the women’s high jump (her fifth time being after she became a mom). I met Amy at the local track the previous summer and it turned out she lived a few blocks away from me. She told me if I ever needed acupuncture that she would help me out. 

One day, while I was getting acupuncture from her, she mentioned that a lady by the name of Sandra Farmer-Patrick, who is an Olympic silver medalist in the women’s 400m hurdles in 1992, lived in the area and that I should reach out to her and she gave me her number. I really didn’t know what I would say to her or if I would reach out. Later that day, I went to the gym to do my lift, and I saw this college-aged boy working out and his mom sitting there watching him. He was wearing a shirt with the US Olympic rings on them. I decided to walk over and introduce myself; I asked the lady who looked very fit for her age if she ran track and field, she said, “yes,” then I asked if she ran professionally, and she said, “yes.” Then I asked what her name was. She told me her name was Sandra Farmer-Patrick. It was definitely God that made us run into each other that day. I told her I was supposed to reach out to her and she was shocked. I told her about my situation, and she immediately put me in contact with a coach that works with professional athletes nearby. The Coach’s name is D2; the next day Coach D2 called me, and everything he said to me on the phone was everything that I had ever wanted in a coach; he was so encouraging and told me that I have a superpower since I am a mom. There was also a girl in his training group that did the 400m hurdles who needed a training partner, her name is Ashley Miller, and she represents Zimbabwe, talk about a match made in heaven. I have figured out how to train with the group two times a week while my son is watched by another mom in the neighborhood. Now in my very first 400m hurdle race this Olympic season, I have already run over 2.5 seconds faster than I did all last season. I am really excited to keep pursuing my Olympic dream, and being a mom has opened more doors for me and has strengthened my faith with who God is and his plan for my life.

For anyone reading this, I hope you are willing to take leaps of faith in your life - whether it’s having a baby or anything else. It may be scary when you don’t know how everything will work out, you have setbacks, or your plan doesn’t go according to how you want it, but trust and have faith that doors will open for you, and the ones that aren't for you will close. I still want to make the Olympics so bad, but I know it’s in God’s hands and whether or not I become an Olympian, I am content and happy because I know His plan is better than mine and I’m so grateful to have a supportive husband and beautiful son who has given me new purpose. I’m no longer scared to hang up my spikes at the end of the season, no matter what the outcome is - I’m excited to grow in the next chapter of my life that’s already begun.


June 21, 2024