Ever wondered what makes a heptathlete tick? We caught up with Katarina on set to give us all the details from competition prep to how she feels about being a role model.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you prepare for a competition?
Before competition I pack 2 bags; one for day 1 of competition and the other for day 2 of competition – making sure all my kit, spikes, hydration tablets etc. are all packed and I have what I need to compete. I also work out the timings for the day, how long I have between each event and make my music playlist and then visualise each event and what I need to do. Finally, the day before the competition, I go to see the physio for a rub and loosen up any tight areas. Then try to make sure I get a good night sleep and to bed early as my competition is always an early start so I need to be up extra early to have breakfast, get to the venue and warm-up…
You have moved to France to work with your current coach, how does the French lifestyle differ from your Liverpool home?
It is completely different. I’m on my own in France without my family or friends who I grew up with so it feels like I’m on a constant training camp which is not a bad thing – I’m very focused and am there for a reason… I also train a lot more now than I used to. Training is every day except Sunday’s and I sometimes train twice a day which is great but the weather in Montpellier is hot – very hot.
Your mum was a dancer and you have said previously she wanted you to follow in her footsteps, how did this lead to athletics?
She used to take me to ballet classes but I just couldn’t wait to get home and run around instead or I would make a bit of a fuss whenever I had to go. I then got told by my teacher to do the High Jump in a school sports day as I was tall. I had never done it before but ended up breaking a long-standing school record that day. I really enjoyed it so I then started wanting to go to athletics session and I found I was dragging my mum to take me to the track and would be really upset if I ever couldn’t go so looking back, I loved it straight away.
You have been in the public eye since 2012, do you feel pressure to be a good role model?
No, not really… It is great that I can hopefully help to inspire people. Whether that is a child or grandparent, it’s really touching to be told somebody has started running / exercise after watching me and was inspired to get active. That means so much to me and I honestly find it surreal that a parent says their daughter wants to be just like me and has taken up running or athletics after watching me as I’m just being me; trying to be the best person and lead the best life that I can. I would still be doing athletics and would be the same person even if it wasn’t in the public eye.
As an athlete do you follow a strict eating plan, what does an average day look like?
No strict plan, I very much believe in everything in moderation. I make sure I constantly drink water throughout the day and try to make sure I am eating enough food for energy; enough protein, vegetables and carbs throughout the day.
What is your treat or guilty pleasure?
Pizza – I always feel guilty but I like it and as I said, I don’t deny myself pizza but I won’t eat it on a regular basis, it is a guilty pleasure. I don’t consider things such as sorbets guilty pleasure. I eat sorbets / fruity ice-cream but never feel guilty – it’s hot in France!
What is your daily exercise routine and how does it differ from when you are preparing for an event or competition?
It changed recently as I used to taper out from weeks ahead of competition but now it is only the week of the competition where I start to taper. Usually I would train twice on Monday & Tuesday, have a hard running session Wednesday and hard gym session Thursday. Friday and Saturday one technical session on each. The week before competition, I wouldn’t do hard running or gym sessions, focus more on technique and recovery – stretching, and alike.
What is it important to look for in good sportswear?
If you look good, you feel good and that gives you more confidence which means better results.
You look amazing in sportswear do you have any tips for women to feel confident at the gym and when working out?
Mix & match – as said, look good feel good. I would also say to anyone, every time you go to the gym, you get better and closer to your goal (whatever it is) which should give you confidence… Each time you are working out, you are going to finish the session better than when you started.
You are pictured regularly in your exercise wear what are your tips for making activewear look good?
I’m very fortunate as I get to choose things from Nike elite & choose a style that suits me. Knowing your body shape & what suits you best – for me it’s crop tops with high waisted leggings.
How would you suggest dressing activewear to take you from the track to seeing friends?
The trainers I wear at the track are Nike Pegasus and I would usually wear Nike pro shorts and crop top. If I’m heading out after, I’d switch my trainers to Nike Air Max 1; change my sweaty clothes to a fresh loose hanging t-shirt with a high-waisted legging obviously.
Who inspires your style off the track?
I wouldn’t say one person but I went to L.A on holiday last year and I loved the style (both clothes & lifestyle). In places like Rodeo Drive which is high-end, people are still in leisurewear which I really enjoy – still looks great and is relaxed and that is very much my style on a regular day in 30 degrees heat...
You put your body and skin through a lot competing and training are there are beauty products you swear by?
Yes, I’ve started using Glossier milky jelly cleanser (for face); and their toner & face moisturizer… I feel like my skin is amazing after using their products and they work for me.
At competitions you have to give a lot of interviews do you have any tips for being confident in front of the camera?
Be yourself! It’s easier when you are telling the truth and I just give answers really honestly which is sometimes my downfall but that is who I am. I don’t put on a front or mask anything, I say what I am feeling which would be my advice but again, that is just me. Outside of competitions, I’m very laid back and like to laugh. Giving interviews straight after a competition, I am usually very much in the moment and I have very high standards for myself. Sometimes I may look a bit down but that’s because I’m focused, thinking about the events that has just occurred and trying to be the best I can. I remember In 2015 I got a bit of stick for looking unhappy after winning gold at European Indoors. I was delighted to win gold and was so proud but I was so gutted as I just missed out on the World record by 13 points (about 0.5s in the 800m) which when giving interviews immediately after was on my mind… Now I can say I am very proud to be one of only two women to score 5000+ points in the Pentathlon but at the time, I was physically and mentally exhausted and just seen that I had missed out on a world record by a fraction after giving it my all; I felt gutted but that was me so will standby it.
What activities do you like to do outside of training?
Well as training takes so much out of you, I like to do relaxing activities such as walking my dogs (when I can), I watch a lot of box sets – I’m always open to recommendations of a good series. I like to relax at coffee shops and I’m really keen on scenic views and taking photos. I love exploring and travelling to find a good landscape / a scenic view that I can capture. I’m also trying to learn French.
What are your tips for an aspiring young sportsperson?
Try to do everything! Try as many varieties of sports as you can. I played a load of different sports before finding athletics and even then, I just gave every discipline a go which is how I ended up being a heptathlete as I liked them all… well ha...
If you weren’t an athlete what job would you be doing?
I think a landscape photographer. As said, I love to travel, explore and find beautiful scenic locations. I’m also hugely into animals and wildlife so would love to take photos of animals in their natural habitat, especially if that habitat is in a beautiful tropical country...