When you step between those ropes, its just you – Kellie Harrington on Mindset in The Last Mile is Never Crowded

“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”.

In the latest episode of The Last Mile is Never Crowded, Kellie Harrington documents her road to Paris 2024 by sharing the mindset that sets her apart.

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 will include 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.

Of mindset, she adds “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 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.”

Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

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.”