Health Hacks from the Elite

Ellyse Perry.

This March, some of our top female sports stars – cricketer Ellyse Perry, swimmer Alicia Coutts, and hurdler Michelle Jenneke – are all on board as ambassadors for Cancer Council’s The March Charge. The talented trio will be motivating women across the country to take on the challenge to run, ride or swim all the kilometres they can throughout the month of March, to help combat the third of cancers that can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle.

RELATED: 15-minute workout: heart pumping circuit

RELATED: What to never do before you work out

These three spill the beans on...

Training for your goals
ELLYSE: “Generally before our season starts there would be a heavy focus on strength and conditioning to get our bodies ready for all our upcoming matches across the Summer. Mid-season it’s predominately skills based sessions with extra cardio to keep a solid base level of fitness.”
ALICIA: “Each week my workout schedule consists of 10 swim sessions, three gym sessions, three runs and I’ll do 500 abs before each swim session plus stretching.”
MICHELLE: “My workout schedule varies depending on what part of the season it is. At the moment I’m doing sprints and hurdles training on Mondays and Wednesdays, which lasts about three hours each day and is on a grass track to reduce the impact on my joints. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I do a two-hour gym session with a strength and conditioning coach. On Fridays I do plyometric sessions at home or if I have a competition on the weekend I will use it as a rest day and get a massage to have me relaxed and ready for race day. Saturdays are either a competition day or a hurdles training session on a synthetic track. I always try and do some stretching each day and make sure I get physiotherapy at least once a week to minimise injury and make sure my body is in the best possible condition to cope with the physical demands of each week.”

Michelle Jenneke.

Sidestepping injury
ELLYSE: “Since cricket and soccer are such different sports both physically and skills-wise, I think the cross-training aspect has definitely benefited me in being able to test my body in different environments and use the different training methods to further strengthen my body and prevent the likelihood of an injury. Try to be as diverse as you can with your training to keep tricking your body.”
ALICIA: “I do a bit of running for cross training. My coach likes having it in my program as it's great for getting your metabolism going and burning calories faster than you would in the pool and also gives my shoulders a rest not having to do all the extra kilometres in the water.”
MICHELLE: “Avoiding injury can actually be complicated. My use of gym sessions, plyometrics and stretching as cross training certainly helps to build strength and flexibility, which in turn helps to reduce injury. Ensuring good technique in track sessions as well as having regular massage and physiotherapy also plays a huge part.”

Finding your food philosophy
ELLYSE: “Always enjoy your food. Try to buy fresh produce wherever possible – any food that rots or goes off within a few days is usually good for you!”
ALICIA: “A high protein, low fat diet without a lot of sugar. It’s OK to treat yourself once in a while though. I eat a lot of salad and fresh vegetables with my meals.”
MICHELLE: “Eat good nutritious foods and eat enough to fuel your day. I eat about every four hours and whilst I try to eat a good balanced diet, I don’t ban treats from my diet. If I am out with friends or celebrating with family I am happy to eat whatever is on offer.”

Staying healthy on the road
ELLYSE: “Always carry a water bottle and try to get out and see as much as you can by walking or riding a bike.”
ALICIA: “Make sure you get plenty of sleep, take zinc and vitamin c tablets to help stay healthy especially of you are flying. Hand sanitizer is a must to have with you all the time especially when going overseas and drinking bottled water when overseas to minimise the risk of getting sick from the water.”
MICHELLE: “I try and eat foods that are similar to the foods I eat at home. When in countries that don’t have safe drinking water, avoid salads and always wash your fruit with bottled water. If you choose to eat meat, make sure it is really well cooked or choose tinned meat. I often travel with muesli or oat bars just to be safe.”

Alicia Coutts.

Using your mind to gain a competitive edge
ELLYSE: “The most important thing is to believe in your ability and trust you have prepared well enough in your training to execute your plans on the field.”
ALICIA: “Before I go up for a race I run over in my head, ‘you can do this, you have swum this race a million times just go out there and see what you can do.’”
MICHELLE: “I’m always pretty motivated going into a competition, so I just stay as relaxed as possible the day of a race and go into the race with attitude to do my best and enjoy myself.”

Recovering right
ELLYSE: “Re-hydrate straight away followed by stretching post game and then occasional physio session if I have a niggling injury, eating a quality meal and most important to get plenty of sleep.”
ALICIA: “I head to the warm down pool and swim 300m then head to the ice bath for 2 minutes and repeat the process 3 times. After I finish we head back to the hotel and I just relax and recover in my room. I don't like to do too much walking around so I rest my legs and prepare for my next event.”
MICHELLE: “A big part of my recovery is ensuring I get enough sleep. On top of this I also incorporate active recovery such as easy bike rides and pool sessions, which are low impact when I feel the need.”

RELATED: Serena Williams shares her training tips

Counting your achievements
ELLYSE: “On the field would be having represented our Country in World Cups across both Cricket and Soccer. Off the field I would say being part of an amazing era in Women’s Sport alongside so many talented athletes inspiring the next generation of girls to have fun and enjoy their sport.”
ALICIA: “My biggest achievement is winning five medals in the London Olympics, including one gold, three silver and one bronze.”
MICHELLE: “I am not really motivated by achievements, more by experiences. Some of my highlights would be working in an orphanage school in Tanzania for three months in 2012 and making my first Australian team.”

This March, join Ellyse, Alicia and Michelle and take on the challenge to run, ride or swim down cancer. To enlist in Cancer Council’s The March Charge visit: