Nutrition plays a massive role – Kellie Harrington’s The Last Mile is Never Crowded.

“Nutrition plays a massive role in every athlete’s sporting career, especially with boxing having to make weight and maintain the weight over a period of days in the competition” – Olympic champion and double Olympian, Kellie Harrington, is highlighting the vital role nutrition will play in her #RoadToParis.

“I always find the better food that you eat, the more energy you have. It’s not that I always find that – it’s true. It’s the actual truth. The better food that you eat – if you’re snacking on chocolates and biscuits and stuff; it’s just a quick release energy and then you crash. Whereas, if you have a longer period of cutting weight and eating correctly, then your energy levels start to restore themselves and get better. It makes it a lot better for you, making weight when you need to make weight. You’re not doing that three weeks before a competition, trying to lose four or five kilos, which is absolutely crazy”

Kellie’s nutrition programmes are designed, delivered and monitored by Sport Ireland Sport Institute Dr. Sharon Madigan, who has over 20 years experience in working with Elite boxers.

“I always take advice from the Nutritionists out in the Institute and Sharon Madigan – I’ve worked with Sharon for many years now at this stage. She has always given me good sound advice, and I believe in what she is telling me. And it works. We work hand in hand – I do my thing and she does her thing. We both trust the process and it does work”

Kellie, after her semi-final in Tokyo, said “The last mile is never crowded and that’s the way it does feel sometimes. It does feel very lonely, but I suppose that’s the difference to be able to hold on in there and keep it going.” It is that instinct, that perseverance and drive, that brought her gold. And, she added before her Olympic final “I’ve had heartbreak. I know what it is to fail and I know how hard it is to pick yourself back up after that. This is why I am who I am, and why I am here today, because I’m not afraid of failure. I know what it is. I’m Kellie Harrington. I’m myself and I make my own pathway.”

Kellie became a double Olympian during the 2023 European Games – where she qualified for Paris and came home with lightweight gold. Throughout this series, as Kellie prepares for the Paris Games, she will share the habits she has built, in the ring, in training and in life, that set her apart.

This includes how she stays motivated, how she uses nutrition, S&C and roadwork to make the most of her boxing skills, how she plans her training within the High Performance framework, supported by Sport Ireland, how she balances a demanding training schedule, her self-care and mental health practices.

Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

In the first episode of The Last Mile, Kellie shared how she finds her motivation at this stage in her career “My motivation comes from the fact I have a target on my back at the moment – and I really need to work hard, as I am the target. I just wanna be better, every day. Not by a long mile, but by a very, very small percent; not even one percent, smaller than that. And, as long as I keep making those little small adjustments, then, I’ll be happy – but, if I can’t make the adjustments, then we have to go back and we have to wonder why and try and fix that problem but my motivation is that I am the target and I’ll have to keep getting better, keep improving. Bit by bit. Day by day.”

And in the second episode, Kellie shared her experience of roadwork, an element of her training she finds difficult Honestly, roadwork, its not my cup of tea, at all. But, I know – actually, before I have a running session; if we have a running session on Wednesday, before on Tuesday, the night before, I’ll be tossing and turning with the anxiety of having roadwork on a Wednesday morning. It really isn’t my cup of tea. I’m not the worst at it but I get so – I get a knot in my tummy before I do it. But I also know that it’s so beneficial and I feel if I’m doing roadwork, it’s specific roadwork – I’m not going out and pounding the pavements. Everything is specific to what we are doing. Our (S&C) Coach, John Cleary, he would have our running programme sorted for us before we even turn up. So, it could be three 3 minutes – and you’ve to, not go all out because it’s impossible to do that, but go fast, maybe 90% of your pace for the three minutes. Other times, then, we’ll do 3 800s. So, we should be getting them under 3 minutes by the time it comes around to doing 3 800s. So, when I’m finished, after all that anxiety the night before and turning up and absolutely dreading it, I’m just so happy and relieved that it’s been and its done. But I also use it when I’m running – it’s a mindset thing, because running, for me, is extremely hard. So, I feel like, if I’m able to get up, drag myself to the running track and do that session then I can totally get up, drag myself to that ring and fight anyone in the world.”

In the third episode, Kellie spoke about mindset “Mindset is a really, really big thing in boxing because, at the end of the day, when you step in between those ropes, it’s just you and your opponent. The way I work with getting my mind right, and set, and straight before I get in in between the ropes – for instance, I spoke about running there and, I’m not gonna say I don’t like it, but how it really isn’t my cup of tea, and I use that, when I’m getting in to the ring. I’m like – I’ve done that, I’ve done the hard work; I’ve gone on to the running track when I know it’s something I struggle with and that isn’t my cup of tea. And, I wasn’t actually too bad on the track when I did it, so that’s money in the bank for my mindset. It’s about being in the gym, and doing the uncomfortable things to make yourself feel comfortable. Then mindset, then, is really really strong when it needs to be strong. When you need that to be strong and at its finest is just before you step in those ropes. 45 minutes before you get in there, you need to have a really solid mindset – and I find that my training backs up my mindset”

In the fourth episode, Kellie shared her love of Strength and Conditioning – “S&C has played a massive role in my journey – we do S&C all year round, but, particularly before a big tournament, we will start a bloc, staring 9 or 10 weeks out. And what I really like about it is that you start to see the difference in your body and the impact that strength and conditioning is having on your body and on your performances. There is strength work, which makes you stronger, and there is conditioning work which gives you better endurance. And then you also have explosive work, as well, which you also do in your strength and conditioning sessions, and that’s just making you more. The sessions aren’t overly long or anything like that, but it is smart training. They are compacted, get in, get out, get it done…And I LOVE strength and conditioning”. Kellie’s S&C programmes are designed, delivered and monitored by Sport Ireland Sport Institute S&C Specialist, John Cleary, who has over 20 years experience in working with Elite boxers.