An Interview With Lucy Boggis - Elite Athlete Turned Top Coach

Even if an elite athlete’s past and lifestyle isn’t directly relevant to you there is so much you can take away from their words. Wisdom, inspiration, motivation, insight and experience. Today’s guest is Lucy Boggis, a leading endurance athlete who has some incredible accolades to her name coupled with a very inspiring story. Let’s get straight into it.

Lucy, can you give us some background on your history as an elite athlete!?

(Laughs!) I’m not very good at talking about achievements in my sport, but Ill try my best for you.

I started athletics when I was 10; my mum took me to the local track after a hockey match at school. She said that it would be good to see how I compare to other kids, as I seemed to come in to my element on sports day and loved it. After my 1st training session, I came home and told my family I was leaving school at 16 and I was going to the Olympics. (Pretty positive little kid, I have to say) but being the determined thing that I am, I did leave school at 16 to become the best athlete I could be, competing as a heptathlete, with totally amazing support from my family.

Unfortunately, my career from a young age was tainted with Injures, starting with my first at 13 when I fractured two vertebra in my lower back continuing with serious injures all the way through to 23 when I ruptured the tendon in my glute and was unable to be fixed even after operations. Which resulted in the doctors advising me to retire (the hardest and worst day of my life, which has actually lead me to tears typing this – what a loser) But I had many years still achieving goals I set myself even with my injuries, winning 5 English school titles, (this is one of the top events you can do as a junior – its been called the mini Olympics) National titles (mainly in javelin – one of my favorite events) National records (beating Jessica Ennis’ indoor junior record) winning 2 International Heptathlon titles when competing for Great Britain, and two Team golds. Competing in the senior European cup along side past and present Olympians and being 2nd placed Brit. Qualifying for the Commonwealth 2010 games (having to pull out from the team due to a tendon rupture in my knee – told you I was good at injures) and a few other things along the way. I’m sure I’m boring you enough now, so I wont go on.

I did everything I could to be the best I could be, but my body couldn’t withstand the intense heptathlon impact training, so I will never be able to see how far I could have gone in my sport, which is heart-breaking, but all you can do is try your hardest and find another path that will take you a more positive way in life.

That’s quite incredible, inspiring. As an elite athlete how important was the correct diet to you, even as a junior?

Nutrition played a massive roll in my sport and it did from a very young age. I was always switched on with healthy eating from a young age and always ate fresh and a clean diet. But as the years went on in my sport I realised that not only is healthy eating just good for keeping in shape, it also benefited my training sessions, learning that different foods would support different sessions, and develop my body for what I was trying to achieve. Training 6 days a week and twice a day on some days, refueling correctly was so important so that I could turn up each day fresh and ready to fire on all cylinders. As you know I struggled with a few too many injures, which meant I was even more focused on my diet as I needed to stay in shape still but also allow my body to heal correctly. I also wanted to do whatever I could to make sure when I was back on the track I was in the best shape of my life. I couldn’t afford to waste any time when I did have the chance to compete, so this was one way of making sure I hit the track rolling.

Great! Today as a coach how much emphasis do you put on healthy eating?

LB 2

The nutrition side of things to me is just as important as the training for my clients – there’s no point training hard and trying to reach your goals if your going home and either having processed nasty foods or not having anything at all! You wont make progress and you’ll feel like giving up as you wont see the results that you should be getting from your hard work. So with the guys and girls I coach, it’s important that they get the nutrion spot on so they can benefit from the training and the foods. Turning them into lean mean fighting machines!!

Indeed!! What are your main fundamental beliefs on good nutrition?

I believe in going completely clean and pure foods. This is purely from learning along the way in my own sport, what works and what doesn’t. The biggest thing for what I know and me has worked is cutting out any ‘man made’ substances. There is nothing on this earth that can’t support and develop you in your nutrition and training. The body isn’t developed to eat gluten and unnatural substances; they should play no part in your nutrition and development. If the earth hasn’t provided it, don’t bother with it, that’s my view anyway. I know some may not agree, but this is what I see has worked. High lean protein, loads of green veg, fresh fruit, natural grains so simple and all your body needs. The purer your diet the more functional it will be – you wouldn’t have a Ferrari and fuel it with saw dust, you would give it the best, and that’s how you have to treat your body – we are all Ferraris!

Love that! What is a typical day’s eating for you?

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As you may see from above, obviously all my food is very pure (single ingredient foods). About 3-4 days a week I will train before my main breakfast very early (for me this kick starts my metabolism) but I wont train on a completely empty stomach, so will have to put together a small tub of mixed berries (amazing antioxidants) and some chopped up pineapple (amazing for digestive enzymes and healing your body) and I’ll munch on this before, during and after training until I get home for my big breaky. Normally a large bowl of mushrooms (not necerselly needed, I just love them) with a big double handful of spinach – so high in iron, which is needed for after training, 2 egg whites 1 egg and some strawberries dry fried and in with the eggs (sounds weird, but works a treat – and having any type of berries after training is so beneficial and a great carb!).

Through the day I will snack on lots of raw veg and homemade humous (make homemade chili humous as chili is an awesome natural body healer – I’m all about fixing the body where I can) lots of nuts – I love them and natural fats are so important.

Lunch would be a large bowl of mixed green salad leaves, beetroot (and lots of beetroot juice – amazing for your cardiovascular health and high blood pressure if you have it) raw diced up veg – you cant have too much veg, and then Id top it with salmon fillet, anchovies, and sometimes a poached egg too. I have a side of Quinoa (a natural grain) for my carbs.

Dinner comes another gigantic bowl of mixed salad and plenty of veg, sometimes roasted, stir fried in coconut oil, however it comes works! And then another large portion of protein, I love my fish, so I do have a lot of it –raw tuna steak is my favorite, but I do have chicken breast in there, turkey breast and raw steak. I normally mash up avocado, spread it on my meat, sprinkle with seeds of almond flakes and a little flaked chili – so good!!

I notice you make some amazing recipes, what is your top 3?

Haha – oh I love a bit of baking! I want to one day have my own health café in south Devon with lots of raw, natural recipes and maybe hold weekends there for learning how to make your lifestyle more natural and teach some of the recipes I’ve learnt!!

So my top 3 –

Quinoa granola with Agave Nectar – normal granola is so high in sugars and processed carbs, but using quinoa which is a natural grain found by the Incas about 3-4 thousand years ago – they called it “Gold” as they believed that it helped the warriors stamina. With this granola you can jam pack it full of amazing super foods and have it on top of some stued Rhubarb as a snack or some unsweetened almond milk for breakfast.

Agave sticky chicken – its one of my favorites at the moment as its summer. Sticking this on the BBQ is the ultimate, and Agave nectar is amazing for you also and being low in GI compared to honey its win-win.

CLEAN Strawberry moose – it’s a little bit cheeky as it has two cans of coconut milk in it, but serves a lot of you and also having natural fats like this is in your nutrition is no problem. When it comes to having a little treat, this is still amazingly healthy and great for your body.

Sounds lovely, all of them. To get the full recipes go to How valuable are tasty recipes to a healthy diet?

Having recipes that are healthy but tasty in your diet is beyond important. If your trying to shape up and remove all the naughty foods from your diet, you need to replace it with foods that still taste great or you will fall off the wagon and revert back to the bad stuff again. If you have recipes that excite you and also broaden your cooking skills in the kitchen you will be far more inclined to stick with healthy living. I’m very lucky in the fact that I love all food, no matter how it tastes, I never get bored of having steamed veg and fish. (But that doesn’t mean I don’t get adventurous with my recipes still).

Can you outline the kind of training you underwent as an elite athlete?

As you may have all gathered by now injuries ruled my career, so about 70% of my training was based on rehabbing the injury and gaining strength and power that I may have lost during my time out. But, through the winter most of our training was about getting FIT, so lots of hard fartlek and interval sessions, sickeningly intense circuits, and heavy weights to keep our power while doing the high amount of endurance based training as we didn’t want to lose our power and short technical sessions. When it came to the start of March/April we needed to start sharpening up for the season, so we would reduce the endurance work and up the speed and speed endurance based training, continuing our lifting, but only having 1 – 2 sessions in the weights room and then focusing a lot of time on our technical events. Having seven events takes up a lot of time.

Wow! Did you/do you use resistance training to complement your goals within your chosen event (s)?

We did use resistance training when I was doing athletics, and I have continued with it now, but I have altered it slightly as I am now training for triathlons and endurance based sports which require different uses of the body compared to heptathlon.

What is a typical week's training schedule now?

I now still train just as much as I used to, I love training and bettering myself as much as I can still. The body is amazing and if you treat it right it can achieve things you never thought possible (the idea of running 800m when I was doing heptathlon was a big deal for me, but now I run up to 10miles and actually love it).

I will do a lot of fartlek based training for my running maybe twice a week, normally doing a hard bike session before hand that is long distance, but lots of sets of fast sprint work, to get my legs powerful and used to being fatigued. I will then run afterwards so my body can adapt to the change in event. I swim twice a week and will normally lift afterwards, doing one strength session a week and one weighted circuit session. With all this I will also be doing general rehab exercises to strengthen the smaller muscles and also to look after old injuries. At the end of the week I will finish off with a long run up to 10miles, nothing too fast, just to run the weeks training out of my legs and also get that endurance training in again.

What would your best piece of advice be to ladies who under eat and over train in an attempt to get ''skinny?’’

I know that girls out there like to train to get ‘skinny’ and if this is what they are after then that’s there provocative, but it’s so important to still eat correctly after you have trained. You don’t get fat from food if you eat the correct nutrition, so girls should NOT be scared to eat, they have to refuel their bodies, not just to rebuild the muscles they have just damaged in the gym, but also you have to eat to survive.

If this isn’t an incentive I don’t know what is.

If you train hard, you eat hard (that doesn’t mean, chocolate) you will only see progression in your training, your energy levels, your skin, every body function will improve. Training and then eating can only result in POSITIVE results, there is nothing impressive about training hard, not eating and gaining no results, the most amazing thing to see is someone who is truly healthy and respectful to their bodies.

Much agreed! What are your future plans as a coach?

My future plans as a coach is to continue to help people believe in the path they are on. No matter what their dream is, it is important. It doesn’t matter if it’s about starting a healthy lifestyle or to compete in the Olympics, every dream is valid and just as important as anyone else’s. I want to keep motivating clients towards respecting their bodies and taking a healthy approach to life, help them to achieve the goals they have set themselves, and to see that the struggle to accomplish a dream should be enjoyed, because when you get there it is sweeeeeeeet!!!

What a great way to end this, thank you so much Lucy. Amazing words!

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