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Being Elite with Adelle Tracey

Adelle Tracey is the world semi-finalist and European semi-finalist middle-distance runner competing primarily in the 800 metres, with a PB of 1:59:86. If you're trying to do the math, she's fast: that's maintaining 24.4km or 15 mph for just under two minutes. We caught up with the professional athlete to talk motivation, body image, training around your cycle and the importance of keeping more girls in sport.

Onetrack Top Trumps

Age: 28

Years Running: 20

Max speed: I actually don't know!

800m time: 1.59.50

5km time: 16.22 (unofficial on road)

Coach: Craig Winrow

What do you think is the best thing about being an elite athlete?

The best thing is being able to do something you enjoy everyday, which ultimately doesn't feel like ‘work’. I love that I get to travel to races and spend time with other athletes working towards similar goals.

Are there any downsides to being an elite athlete?

I’d say one downside would be missing important occasions & family events for competition and not being able to make plans in advance. However I am lucky that I have understanding friends and family and there is usually a silver lining in that I am usually achieving one of my goals if I do have to forgo plans.

How have you stayed focused for so long on running?

Keeping the fun factor there is really important for me. When it’s your lifestyle, you have to enjoy it all, even the hard work.

If there was a silver bullet for consistency, what do you think it would be?

Good nutrition to support the work. Keeping a consistent diet can support the immune system, muscle repair, menstrual cycle and symptoms. I try to make sure I am fuelling regularly so I can sustain the workload and get more out of my training.

This time of year is tough for people to get out and keep the ball rolling, what tips could you give from your experience for people in the winter months?

Find a friend or a group to run with - meeting others holds you accountable and company always makes training more fun.

Get some music or a good podcast on. If I am running solo, music or a good podcast are great for making the miles fly by on those easier runs.

How do you train around your menstrual cycle?

I use the FitrWoman app to track my menstrual cycle which gives me great insight into the monthly changes in hormones, physiologically changes and offers advice on how I can support myself and reduce potential symptoms. I also have my strength and conditioning coach on the app, therefore he can see when I am on my period and schedule a deload week before I enter phase 1 so that I am not fatigued when I start my period. We tend to do more stretch focused exercises and “pre-hab” in phase one. The running side of things doesn't change too much and I actually find my symptoms to be better after exercise but I do supplement with high antioxidants, Cherry juice, Omega 3 and a fibrous diet to help support the symptoms.

With social pressure about body shape, in particular the female body. How do you deal with the fluctuations in your body and social media?

I feel lucky that because I have been running from such a young age, I have always viewed my body as a tool, it serves me well and it’s job is to recover well and run fast. Therefore whatever shape it is, I am happy if it’s helping me achieve my goals. I don’t pay too much attention to body weight as it’s never an indication for fitness for me and I actually weigh more each year (which I see as a good thing because it means I am getting stronger). I tend to just focus on what feels right for me to sustain the work and feel good, which ultimately means making sure I am fueling and recovering sufficiently.

What does your coach say to you on the days that you’re struggling?

He will usually tell me to stop or change the session to a lower intensity. I have never dropped out of a session in my life, so I am someone who has to be told to back off. My coach is good at judging when not to overcook things and when he can’t oversee my session I am lucky that I have my training partner as a soundboard to make that call. I have a rest day every week so most of the time backing off, getting good recovery (nutrition, Ice bath, sleep, treatment) means I am usually better for the next session.

If there was one thing you would change to keep young girls in sport, what would it be?

One thing I am really passionate about is seeing women from all backgrounds enrich their lives with sport and we know that there is still a significant drop out rate of girls in sport. I think the more we can have honest open conversations about barriers young girls might face during teenage years and normalise conversations around things that might cause girls to drop out of sport like periods, body image and sweating we can hopefully help change this narrative and see more women enjoying sport.

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