Where were you at 21? Finishing up university, nervously starting your first ‘real’ job, or perhaps just counting down the days until you could blast Taylor Swift’s age-based banger, 22. Well, Morgan Mitchell had just run at the 2016 Rio Olympics — in the 400m event. Five years on (blame COVID), and she’s training for her second Olympic Games, to be held in Tokyo, Japan.
Oh, and she’s got some other big news. She’s just set a new record as the first Olympian to appear on F45tv screens, as their newest F45 Training Athlete. So when given the chance to interview Mitchell — well, The Latch sprinted towards it (pun intended).
Our best sprinting efforts pale in comparison compared to hers — as does our training. In a week, she trains two or three times a day. Mitchell breaks it down as so: “Monday, a long run and gym; Tuesday, track session and pilates; Wednesday is gym, F45, and the long run.” Thursdays are just one session — main track session days. F45 and the gym get another visit on Friday.
If you’re wondering whether or not she slows down on the weekend — that’s a no. “Saturdays are a main track session and a jog in the afternoon; Sunday is my long run which is about 18km, and pilates in the afternoon.” Trying to figure out where her rest days come in? “I try to take every second Friday off. Every second or third one. If I’m feeling a little bit tired then I’ll take it off completely.”
As for when she’s training for the Olympics? Yes, the former was just her regular routine. It turns out a lot actually gets stripped back in the lead up to the Olympics. Mitchell explains that simplification is aimed for, saying “I won’t jog as much during the week, and track sessions get a lot harder — but they’re a lot shorter.”
She drops to three track sessions a week when she’s a fortnight out from the Olympics — to “try and just recover as much as I can, to get my body ready”.
Being as COVID ended up pushing the Olympics a year later than it was meant to be — for the safety of athletes and spectators alike — you’d think Olympians training routines may have adjusted. That might be the case for some people (Mitchell points out basketballers and swimmers, who need equipment and “you know, a pool”), but as a runner — well, you can run anywhere.
Reflecting on the year that wasn’t — Mitchell was in Melbourne for one of their many lockdowns — she says the time “helped me focus a lot more because we couldn’t do anything else”. She added that she was quite grateful, as “All I could do was train and I think that’s why I had such a good year last year getting fit. I’d been the quickest I ever opened in a race.”
As for if she has any training tips for us regular folks? “One thing I’ve learnt from a few other athletes is to always keep resistance bands — because I can still get a workout in.” She cites that “you can do anything with them,” and it feels like you’re getting a little bit of resistance in your training.
She also emphases the importance of drinking water — something we’re also a big fan of — except she outdoes us with her six litres a day (for reference, about two to three litres is recommended per day). “That’s all I really drink, water and green tea.”
Knowing when to rest is her final tip. “I think people forget that you don’t always have to be on.” Mitchell recommends taking a day off here and there, as it’s doing your body justice, rather than pushing it to the limit — “Sometimes, you do need it.”
Turning the conversation to F45, and her newly announced partnership with the renowned fitness brand, she explains that she was actually doing F45 anyway to “change up my training routine” as it had been getting too structured. She calls the whole experience (including meetings, photoshoots and emails) a little bit of fun.
She laughs when recollecting her first F45 session (“It was so embarrassing!”), expecting that as an athlete she could get in there and do it. She may have gotten in there and done it, but her quads were killing her for a week. You know something works when you can even push an athlete to their limits — as Mitchell says: “You must be doing something right.”
Citing it as a new challenge, her current aim is to “just try and get through a full session without stopping”, she says while laughing again at her misfortune. Her competitive streak helps her get through it — as she “would see other people doing it, and they’re killing it, so I feel like I can’t stop…because they’re just looking at you like you’re the athlete.” By the end of it, she’s in the bathroom just sitting on the toilet — presumably catching her breath (or laughing both to and at herself).
As for how she takes care of herself, beyond just physically, Mitchell says that “Honestly, [I’ve] always been into meditation. She thinks it’s because of her mum’s influence. “We always used to call her a witch doctor, because she’s just got that — I don’t know…”
The word energy is supplied here, and Mitchell jumps on it. “Energy! And aura and presence around her.” She likes to slow down and meditate every morning and tries to fall asleep to some sort of meditation as well. It helps her reset and refocus, and “it’s something I’ve worked on for a long time”.
Citing mental health issues, she thinks “I need to be more present, I need to be more grateful and [through meditation] you’re actually a better person for it. You see the world differently and you’re more patient.” Laughing while answering (a recurring theme during this interview) she says the latter is something she’s had to learn because she just doesn’t have any patience.
She also makes a significant effort to “just really focus on something that’s not sports-related”, and has bought a keyboard for her apartment (“I like to play piano”), is learning Spanish, as well as trying to fill out a thousand-page sudoku book by the end of the year — yet another record for her to set.
“It’s kind of like you want to be Morgan the athlete, but then also, Morgan the person. That’s something I value a lot, for sure.”