They say don’t meet your heroes…

They say don’t meet your heroes. Well, I did, and she was even more incredible than I could have ever imagined. When adidas asked if I would like to head up to the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield to meet Jess Ennis and train with her coach Tony, there was only ever going to be one answer!

Ultimate babe! This is from a shoot Jess did with adidas just before we arrived.

Last Thursday I travelled up to Sheffield with a lovely bunch of ladies (Charlie from The Runner Beans, Amy from Glamour, Miette and Debbie from Elle, Carly Wilford of I Am Music and the beautiful Rachel Stringer) and Chris from adidas (who looked p.i.m.p on the train with all those ladies) and was SO EXCITED the whole way there. Also, pretty nervous at the prospect of training under the supervision of an Olympian and her coach.

We met at the English Institute of Sport while Jess was still doing media interviews, but she still popped over to say hello when we arrived and I couldn’t believe how friendly and lovely she was. I won’t lie, I was totally star struck and not in the least bit cool!

Checking Jess doesn’t cheat on her mountain climbers – she’s clearly a bit of a slacker

Next up was a Q&A session with Jess here we learnt about her training regime and how she’s getting on balancing life as a Olympic athlete and a mother to her baby boy Reggie.

During the Q&A we found out that:

  • Jess initially got in to heptathlon because her coach suggested she give it a try.
  • Her least favourite event is the 800m, but she says that heptathlon is generally difficult as you have to master so many different events and compete in them all across two days.
  • On the flip side, she says that the best thing about heptathlon is the variety – every day is different, which she finds motivating.
  • Her coach handles all of her training for her to ensure that she has a balanced training programme and that her training peaks around competition time.
  • She trained while she was pregnant – shorter runs and body weight exercises to keep her body ticking over.
  • She found getting back in to training after her pregnancy quite difficult and says her body felt like jelly!
  • Having a baby changed her perspective on training – the things that stressed her before now seem less important, as Reggie is her main priority.
  • Despite her change in perspective she says she’s still very competitive!
  • Reggie sometimes comes down to training with her (cute).
  • She thinks that the coverage from the Olympics was brilliant for promoting women’s sports and that a big challenge facing women in sport is getting funding, which leads to getting greater exposure and reaching a wider audience.
  • She would encourage everyone to be involved in sport because it teaches you so much – she cites discipline and focus – and it allows you to meet so many people. She also says it’s important to be healthy and take care of your body.
  • She used to play basketball when she was younger but says that she was rubbish!
  • Her first event back will be the hurdles, followed by a heptathlon by the end of May. She says she’s nervous about coming back but looking forward to getting back in to competition.
  • She admitted to feeling quite a bit of pressure about her comeback, but she’s just focussing on her own performance.
  • Her tips for coping with training set backs and injuries are to not rush back in to training and to focus on your ultimate goal. She says that her ultimate goal is Rio 2016.
  • She says your mindset is very important when training, and that she feels her comeback this year is more mental than anything else. She’ll be ignoring what people are saying about her and focussing on her own performance and her own goals.
  • She is inspired by her family and by Swedish heptathlete Carolina Kluft.
  •  She’s strict on food during a competition to make sure that she has her carbohydrates on board the day before (Jess carb loads!) and that she doesn’t eat too much on competition days so that she is ready to perform.

Her down to earth attitude was so refreshing. I absolutely love that she doesn’t follow a strict diet – she just eats healthily with plenty of fruit, vegetables and carbs and is only ever strict at a competition to make sure that she eats the right things at the right times between all of her events. When asked if she tracks her macronutrients, she replied with “my what?” – excellent.

Next up was the training session, but not before taking a selfie (very important) followed by cooing over photos of Reggie on her phone. She is clearly a very proud mum.

Yes, that’s my little star struck face on Jess’ instagram.

Jess and her coach, Tony, explained that Jess uses body weight circuits quite a lot in her training and that he will tweak the protocol every couple of sessions to make them progressively harder. We did two rounds of this circuit, performing each exercise for 20 seconds with a 10 second rest in between each exercise!

  1. Press ups

  2. Split jumps

  3. Sit ups (legs in the air!)

  4. Squat jumps

  5. Dips (an all-time favourite of mine)

  6. Mountain climbers

  7. Back raises (not sure if this is the technical term…)

  8. Burpees

The jumps in my burpees are never this high…

Topped off with a cool down lap of the track. Jess took us through the first set before she had to dash off, and Tony took us for the second set. The second set felt much more difficult than the first and we were all pretty sweaty by the end. A surprisingly tough little session!

Just trotting round the track with my friend Jess

I loved that Jess uses such simple workouts and I think it proves that you don’t need fancy equipment or a shiny swanky gym to get fit – if it’s good enough for a world class athlete, it’s definitely good enough for me!

Meeting Jess was a dream come true. A huge thank you to adidas for the opportunity, and for Jess and Tony for their time!

Gleaning some wisdom from coach Tony