In 2016, Rachel Wallader’s shot performances have been the best by a Briton for 15 years. Eilish McColgan caught up with her to talk work life, training and why she loves competing at Bedford
The shot put wasn’t always my main event. I was one of those kids who did everything from sports hall to cross country and road relays. I loved the heptathlon. But I saw myself achieving more with the shot and so, as the years went on, I started to focus on the throws instead.
My best friend at primary school convinced me to go along to a training night. I turned up at Halesowen AC and I loved it so much that I signed myself up within days and have remained a member there for around ten years.
I became self coached in June 2014. I’m lucky that my boyfriend is also a thrower – we do the majority of our training sessions together. It works really well as we really push each other in training. It’s resulted in both of us coming away with personal bests. We also join up with talented Black Country thrower Dan Cartwright at weekends; this is proving to be really beneficial for us all, providing fun and competitive training sessions.
I work in a college as a learning support officer. I provide support to young adults who have several learning difficulties and disabilities – Monday to Thursday 9.30am-3pm. Then on Fridays, I take on a different role within the same department as a work experience officer – gaining work placements for the students both within and outside the college environment.
In my spare time, I enjoy a spot of fishing. I also try to spend as much time as I can with my family, friends and my boyfriend and visiting new places.
I want to be able to give back. I love my job at the moment but I also have a sports therapy degree which I would like to do more with. Something I feel quite strongly about is coaching and talent-spotting within schools. There are so many talented youngsters out there but many of our future throwers, especially within schools, are slipping through the net.
I was starstruck when Nadine Klienert walked passed me at the London 2012 Olympics. I have always admired Nadine for her technique and athleticism. However, I was gutted because my phone battery had died which meant I couldn’t get a selfie – I didn’t even have a pen or paper for an autograph. It was probably for the best though, as she hadn’t made it to the final and looked rather angry.
Niggling injuries happen to all athletes. Throughout the years I’ve had my fair share of problems just like everyone else. However, as I have matured and gained more knowledge, I came to realise that as elite athletes – we need to listen to our bodies. We obviously have to push our bodies to the limit but there is a fine line between the limit that will bring about progression and the limit that will result in regression. There was a point I thought I would not be able to throw again due to injury, however by being cautious and training smart, I am now in the best shape of my life.
I love all my training sessions. I honestly can’t say that I have a favourite because I feel I’ve made them all fun and enjoyable despite the pain they bring me.
If I had to pick the worst component of training, it would be the finer movement drills that are extremely repetitive. No matter how many times I go over and over these drills, the soreness never seems to ease off.
Coming fourth at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014 has definitely been my biggest achievement so far. I gained so much experience from it. It was also nice to make it into the UK Diamond League circuit last year – competing against the best in the world definitely spurred me on.
I’ve waited a long time to truly believe in myself. But as they say … it’s never too late to start.
Bedford is my absolute favourite place to compete. For some reason, it seems to be where I have achieved some of my best results.
I tend to follow a lengthy routine before a competition. The evening before, I’ll get my bag and kit ready. I then lay all my clothes for the morning on the side and pin my number on to my vest. My whole routine runs from the evening before the competition to the minutes prior to starting my warm up.
There are quite big differences between my summer and winter training programmes. In the winter months, my training programme consists of a lot of poundage and volume across all aspects of my workload. However during the summer months, I tend to focus on sharpening up and becoming much more reactive. I achieve this by lowering the volume and poundage and increasing the speed, plyometric and agility aspects.
TYPICAL WEEK’S TRAINING
Saturday – Drills and throw session, medicine ball, agility and plyometrics
Sunday – Rest
Monday – Weights session, specific exercises
Tuesday – Drills and throw session, agility and plyometrics
Wednesday – Weights session and core stability
Thursday – Drills and throw session, sprints, medicine ball work
Friday – Weights session
» The above sessions are specific to the individual athlete and may not be suitable for other athletes