Wellness Tips with Olympian Thomas Barr 

Thomas Barr

There’s no doubt about it, Covid has had an impact on almost all areas of our lives. And though there’s still lots of uncertainty ahead, we can – and should – take the time to ensure we’re engaging in self-care. As we head into 2021, here are three wellness tips from Irish Olympian, Thomas Barr.

Find a Workout Friend

As a track athlete I compete as an individual, but what keeps me motivated during tough sessions is working out with my training group. On those days when you’re not particularly in the mood for a workout, having a friend will mean you firstly feel obliged to turn up, and then you also get more out of yourself than expected. Having company makes such a difference to the enjoyment levels too, the chats and laughs on the warm-up or in between sets can make it all go much quicker! However, if you’re training on your own, a great motivation tool is the Irish Life Health MyLife app with its AI coach that encourages you to set goals around body, mind and lifestyle. It’s a great alternative if you sometimes like to train alone, but still want the motivation of having someone with you.

Woman stopping for a break from running

Switch Off to Switch On

We all need to recharge our batteries and we can’t have the engine running at 100% all the time. On the track as a 400m hurdler, I can only focus on clearing one hurdle at a time. I need to be very present and find that if I think too far ahead, I’ll make an error. That’s my approach as an athlete; I’m focused on what’s in front of me, taking each training session and competition as it comes. I would recommend having a hobby that focuses your mind and helps you to switch off. In my spare time, I tinker away with cars, it helps me to destress from my day job as an elite athlete. I am fully focused on the task. I completely lose track of time when I’m working in my garage, it’s like a form of meditation for me.

Have Fun!

I’ve learned a lot about myself competing over the years at top level and representing Ireland at European, World and Olympic Games. I’ve learned to trust in my team and just enjoy it. I know that in order to produce my best, I need to be in a relaxed state of mind. I do not stress, it’s pointless. At championships, I control everything that I can. I have a pre-race ritual that gives me a sense of reassurance and really helps me to stay relaxed. I also enjoy the process as much as the outcome - travelling all around the world representing my country, meeting new people, racing in fantastic stadiums (hopefully soon to be packed again with spectators).

If you’re interested in staying active in the new year, why not check out our Runuary initiative. This series of training programmes will support you as you walk or run your way through January.

Whether you’ve always been active, or have taken up running as part of our Runuary initiative, it’s important to take care of yourself before, during and after an exercise session. We asked physiotherapist Ciara McCallion how to aid recovery after a run; here are her top five tips. Nutrition is also key when it comes to maintaining optimum health. Click here to read sports nutritionist Evan Lynch’s advice on the best foods to eat before and after training.