Jessica Ennis-Hill: ‘I want to be the best I can be’
Jessica Ennis-Hill, British track and field champion, talked about setbacks, pregnancy and serious motivation levels in the August 2014 issue of Healthy
Life lessons from Jessica Ennis-Hill
Doing what you’ve done takes a superhuman degree of motivation – where do you get it from?
I’ve done sport from a young age and was quite competitive. Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be top of the podium. My mum and dad would say I always wanted to be the best – it’s part of who I am. Then being in a sporting environment brings it out even more. You do well, people around you support you, and that allows you to achieve your goals.
You must have had to make lots of sacrifices along the way…
It’s hard when you’re a teenager – you’re not going out with friends. The greatest thing is the support of my family. They gave me a gentle nudge.
Do you still enjoy competing?
Yes. There are days and events I’ve dreaded, but I feel very lucky athletics is my career. I travel, meet great people and do amazing things. My life is very flexible. Not many people get to do that – you have to remind yourself you’re really lucky.
What has been the toughest experience for you professionally?
Coming back from injury. The worst was before the Beijing Olympics [a stress fracture in her ankle]. People say you will struggle and you worry. You have days when you think, ‘My career’s over’ but I had a great coach, a great physio and doctor. I came back the next year and won the World Championships!
Once you’ve won an Olympic gold, what is there left to do?
I got mine in the middle of my career, so I still want to be the best I can be, for as long as possible. There are still things I want to improve on – my heptathlon wasn’t perfect. I’ve missed the Commonwealth Games this summer because of my pregnancy, but I’m looking forward to coming back. Having your first baby is a special time, so I’m making the most of it. But I haven’t lost my drive to compete again!
How healthy is your diet?
I don’t have a strict training diet. I see a nutritionist who measures my body fat to monitor how it changes through training and seasons. I need bursts of energy, so I’ll have Jelly Babies. I eat a healthy, balanced diet, and have protein shakes after training. During pregnancy, I’ve probably been healthier than ever.
Do you take any supplements?
I try to get as much as I can from the foods I eat; I have to be careful. When I’m hammering my body, I’ll take vitamin D. When I had my stress fractures, I took supplements like calcium for bone health.
What motivation tips do you have?
I have my coach screaming at me from the side of the track! It’s good to have a goal like the Vitality Runs. I’d encourage women to get active in sport. I always feel better after training, even just low-level stuff like I’ve been doing during pregnancy. It gives you energy, an endorphin release and helps you focus.
What about your beauty regime?
I need a good moisturiser. I wear minimal make-up when I’m training or competing, but I want to feel that I look nice. It can translate into your performances and give you confidence.
Did you feel self-conscious with all the focus on you during the London 2012 Olympics?
Being the face of the Games just happened. It was a nice position to be in, but I felt the pressure of everyone wanting me to win. It was a great, unique opportunity.