Paralympic inspiration - Stef Reid

Article Oct 11, 2012

The Paralympian track and field medallist, 28, talks about her training regime and keeping a work-life balance.

Tell us a bit about your training regime.
I train 6 days a week. Three days are spent doing intense circuit and sprint training to increase my fitness and speed endurance, and three days are spent in the gym doing weights and core exercises to increase my strength. Although I compete in both the long jump and sprint events, my training translates quite well. You need to be able to run fast for your speed to transfer into the jump, so usually when I’m running well, I’m also jumping well.’

What are your training aims?
I’m always looking to improve what I do. I became an amputee as the result of an accident when I was 16, which caused damage to both my lower right leg and my right glute. This means I always have to work towards both optimising my running leg, and increasing the strength and stability of my affected side so that it matches the other side.’

If you’re having a bad day, how do you motivate yourself?
I love training so that doesn’t happen to me often. However saying that, I don’t enjoy the lactic endurance training I have to do. Although it’s important in order to help me to maximise my body’s output, it can feel like walking the plank! When I’m feeling low, I just have to think of the big picture and I know I need to match and better what my competitors are doing, so I can’t afford to slack. My husband lives in Texas and I train here in the UK, so I have given up a lot to be where I am. That’s often enough to motivate myself.’

What are your diet rules?
On a day-to-day basis I think it’s a good idea to eat as though you’re a diabetic! It sounds like weird advice, but it’s quite basic really; it’s all about maintaining a constant insulin level by having a good ratio of carbs, fats and protein. I also love cooking with fresh ingredients. It’s important to know exactly what you’re eating, which you don’t always get if you buy ready-meals or eat out all the time. Once a week I always have a big blowout, guilt-free meal. It’s good to treat yourself every now and again, especially if your usual diet is always regimented.’

So what’s next for you?
I took a week off after the Paralympics, but to be honest, I love being active, so taking a rest isn’t that fun for me. I have the World Championships in France next July so I need to build on what I have already, not lose it and have to start from scratch. I really want to fit some indoor events in as well, as I always seem to miss these! I love running the 400m, particularly because it’s not always the fastest who wins, it’s the most aggressive!

Do you have a good work-life balance?
‘I think that’s always difficult for anyone, but more so for me. Doing what I do involves an awful lot of travel, so quite often I’m never in a place long enough to make good friends. I have an amazing team around me though, so that helps.’

What would you say to anyone interested in getting involved with Paralympic sport?
Just be patient with yourself. You’re not going to transform into an athlete overnight, so set yourself realistic expectations. Also, just be brave. Showing up in front of all those crowds is often the hardest part, so just stick with it!’.

Stef Reid is an ambassador of the Bupa and UK Sport Partnership. Over the past decade, Bupa has covered more than 29,000 treatments for Britain’s elite athletes.

For more athlete interviews subscribe to Health & Fitness magazine. We'll give you three issues for £1!