You may have read my post where I wrote about how much the children are enjoying their Weetabix. It’s not all about having a healthy breakfast though, it’s also about getting fit and sporty with Denise Lewis OBE.
Here’s some more information about the partnership.
Throughout July and August, the nations leading breakfast cereal Weetabix* are running a ‘Summer of Sport’ Campaign and every pack purchased gives you the chance to receive a free or 2-4-1 Sports session plus the chance to be gifted with a money can’t buy reward. Top rewards consist of sporting experiences with athletes, including Denise Lewis herself, and other rewards such as team kits and biking sets.
The intention of the activity is to inspire Brits throughout the summer and aim to help us rise from the sofa and undertake a new sport. The theme behind this is not restrictive – it doesn’t have to cost the earth, it doesn’t have to wear you out and it doesn’t have to take up all of your time. All you have to do is start something new, with the aid of Weetabix!
So on a (rare) but sunny day at Lee Valley Athletics Centre in London, with the help of coach Ian Grant, Denise Lewis OBE was on hand to giver her tips, advice and insider knowledge in everything Heptathlon – inspiring the nation to get up and get active.
I’m happy to bring you the interview as it happened –
How did you get into Heptathlon?
Denise Lewis: “I watched the Olympics in 1980 and just loved it.
“I didn’t know something like that existed, I was riveted, I watched all of it during the summer holidays, and I just wanted to be an athlete!
“I knew wanted to learn how to be an athlete; I didn’t know what it entailed but I joined up with my local club, so I was pretty active by the time I joined secondary school.
“My first coach was amazing, he was brilliant, so much fun and made everything entertaining.
“We learnt the discipline quite early, where to be on the track, being observant and, well that was the hook.
“That kept me coming back each week, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sunday mornings.”
“Typically, there are two types of athlete in the heptathlon;
Sprinter and Jumper or;
Sprinter and thrower.
…And the key is speed and explosiveness!”
Heptathlon is a track and field combined event, consisting of seven elements, taking place over two days; with the first four contested on day one, and the remaining three on day two. Each competitor undertakes the below as part of the competition;
- 100m Hurdles
- High Jump
- Long Jump
- Javelin throw
Scoring in the Heptathlon is points based, so it’s not always about winning. The only ‘head to head’ event is the 800m, so as an athlete & coach you need to understand the tables to assess where the ‘easiest’ gains can be made.
Ian Grant said; “It’s seven events but you don’t actually have to be best at any of them, to be a good heptathlete. But you don’t want to be bad at any of them. It’s minimising your weaknesses, but don’t neglect your strengths.
“In theory you could win a heptathlon and never win any event, you could be second or third
in every event but because you’re so close to winning your points could be better”
Denise Lewis: “I loved it, apart from the 800m. I found that I could put together two days relatively well and I didn’t look back.
“Then it was adjusting the training so I could accommodate all the events, that was quite challenging.”
“Once I embarked on heptathlon I didn’t want to change, there’s just something special about it.
“Training’s tough, but it’s interesting because it’s ever changing.”
“You feel much more immersed in the sport because you are covering so many different events.
“You’re learning a lot more about your own temperament and personality.”
There are many elements that go into the competition side of Heptathlon, but you have to get there first and that takes hard work and dedication. Some of the key training requirements include:
- Conditioning – this is a can be a stressful event!
- Background work – circuit training, working on your mobility and using the medicine ball
- Running –
o Sprints – for the hurdles and 200m, along with the need for some speed in other events such as the long jump
o Endurance – for the 800m. Plus, you need to have a certain amount of ‘pace judgement’ so as not to tire yourself out too quickly or miss out on points
- Strength – weight training
- Psychometrics – think elastic type activities, hopping & bounding
- Technical – learn anything and everything about each event!
- Nutrition – know what to eat and when to keep your body hydrated and functioning at 100%
Denise said; “Certain events are more tricky. Sprinting, speed endurance, hurdles, you’ve got to be very careful how you position that in your week (of training) as the most vulnerable places are your hamstrings, calves, knees, everywhere actually.
But if you’ve got a hard running session and the next morning you’re coming back to do a hurdling session which is effectively speed, you’ve got to be very careful because the hamstrings don’t always respond very well.”
“A great impact is on how you fuel yourself, as a young athlete I probably wasn’t the best, although my mum did give me good food!
“Understanding what fuel you really need to take in to not only replenish, but give you the energy to train full time, twice a day, six days a week, starts with a really good diet.
“Understanding the importance of hydration, starting the day off well with a good breakfast and I have always had Weetabix in my life, in the 80’s Weetabix did a very sporty campaign and I used to collect the stickers and stick them in my scrapbook.
Weetabix is the nutritional expert that can be trusted to deliver the full package of: vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients your body, heart, brain and muscles need to stay healthy and active.
“So that relationship with good food balanced with diet is imperative, when I wasn’t eating properly and I didn’t have a nutritionist in my life something was a bit ad hock, just trying to think you’re doing the right things but not realising just how much you have to learn still.”
Any advice for the next generation?
With the school holidays just around the corner and parents always in need of some entertainment inspiration; it’s the perfect time to pick up a pack of Weetabix, grab your free sports session and start something new!
Denise commented; “What I think is important for most children is that when we first go into an environment like that is that they’re having fun.
“If they genuinely are into athletics or want to do something it gives them (kids) the opportunity to try out different events on those 2 days.
“Then perhaps eventually they can pick which one of the days suits them best!”
The Weetabix Summer of Sport campaign kicked off in July, with promotional packs running across Weetabix’s entire family including 12’s, 24’s, 36’s, 72’s, and also Crispy Minis, Protein Crunch and Oatibix.
Here are some videos that tell us more about the collaboration and show Denise getting some one-on-one training –