29 Aug The Telegraph: 10 fitness tips from Kate Richardson-Walsh
Kate Richardson-Walsh, who captained the Great Britain women’s hockey team to Olympic gold in 2016, shares her personal fitness secrets – from handy yoga apps to Joe Wicks’s easy home workouts
1. Jazz up your gym wardrobe
Even as a GB athlete, you have days when you don’t want to get out of bed, but the secret is to just get your kit on. Once you have got your kit on and made it out the front door, you are fine, but that is the hard part. I used to
deliberately wear clothes that were bright and fun. I would wear bright-coloured trainers and bright clothes, just to make training feel enjoyable. Find whatever works to get you out there.
2. Make home workouts fast and fun
I think the reason Joe Wicks is doing so well is because he makes training enjoyable. His meals are easy and tasty, and his workouts are hard but really quick and fun. I sometimes do some of his circuits in the morning. I look at his Instagram account and pick five exercises and do 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off, for about 25 minutes. You work really hard but it doesn’t take too long so it’s perfect for a quick workout.
3. Work your mind and body
Sometimes I get up and do yoga in the morning when everything is peaceful and you can be in your own head space. I have an app on my phone called Yoga Studio and it gives you sessions, from 10 minutes of stretching to a full hour strength session. You can choose what you want – balance, strength, flexibility, relaxation – based on how you feel that day. Some days I just want to switch off; other days I fancy a bit of strength work.
Finding some mental peace throughout the day is so important and I don’t think I really fully realised the importance of it until my last two years playing international hockey.
We all live 24/7 but we need to switch off for our mental health.
4. Fuel up
I start the day with muesli, Greek yoghurt and fruit with some fruit juice or tea. If it’s a cold day I might have porridge instead. After training I might have a protein shake or some crumpets. Lunch might be eggs and avocado on toast or an omelette. My dinner varies but I like cooking Asian stir fries or fish and vegetables.
5. Learn to enjoy your sport
I got a good bit of advice from Karen Pickering, the ex GB swimmer, who said she regretted stopping swimming all together when she retired. She advised me to taper down instead, for lots of reasons, both physical and mental.
After retiring I have come out to Holland to play domestic hockey and that has enabled me still to train at a decent level 4-5 times a week. Although you have the pressure of having been an international, it gives you the opportunity to just enjoy it.
Playing at club level means I can enjoy the social side more too. The best thing about hockey is that community feeling. My wife Helen and I can indulge a bit more now, in terms of what we eat or drink, but because it is so ingrained in us we still have a bit of guilt about that. That is hard to cope with but I’m getting there.
6. Be flexible
I know that after this year, when I don’t have organised training, I will have to work harder to schedule my fitness in. It’s important to be willing to train at different times in the day, whenever your schedule allows.
All the hockey training we do at the moment is late afternoon but if I had a choice I would train in the morning. However, I have had to learn over the years that you have to train whatever time of day you can. Yesterday I was travelling to London and I had to work out at 8.30 at night. But I still did it.
Learning that discipline, to fit things in whenever you can, is a big help.
7. Don’t fear heavy metal
In the gym we would work a lot on the lower back, legs and core as that is very important for hockey, as well as for your general strength and posture. We would have three gym sessions a week and they would include Olympic lifts like back squats, front squats, power cleans and deadlifts.
We would do a four-week block of the gym and then you would get a new session so it always felt varied and you didn’t get bored.
8. Team up
Training with other people really helps with motivation. If someone is relying on you to turn up, you don’t want to let them down. You also get good banter and comedy so you have that to keep you going: even if you are feeling dreadful, your friends help you through it. Maybe next time they will feel rubbish and you will help them. You get through it together.
9. Become a masterchef
You can get a bit stuck in a rut with cooking. You go to the shop on Sunday and buy your food for the week and it’s so easy to just buy the same thing every week. Try to make your food varied or it gets too boring and you lose your motivation.
We share recipes among the squad a lot. When we went to stay in Australia we would stay in an apartment and cook for ourselves and share recipes. Our nutritionist Emma Gardiner at the English Institute of Sport helps us with ideas too.
10. Find a new sport
I would like to take up swimming. I enjoyed that when I was younger and I would like to get back into it. I would love to have a go at golf too. I have had a go on the driving range. My irons are fine, and I think the hockey training helps, but my driving is appalling.
Finding new sports just keeps things interesting so you don’t get bored.