The world shot put finalist talks to Katy Barden about her training schedule
Coming off an 11th-place finish in last year’s IAAF World Championships shot put in Doha – an event in which she threw a PB of 18.61m in qualifying – Sophie McKinna was loath to change her training set-up as she moved into 2020.
“If things are working I don’t want to make huge changes, especially going into what is potentially the most important year of my career,” she says.
McKinna will compete indoors but, this year, it’s an abbreviated season with a specific purpose: “The indoors will be to blow the cobwebs away and to break up training a little bit,” she says.
“Now that I’ve got the Olympic qualification we’ve got to be a bit more frugal with what we do because that’s got to be the main focus. Everything has to centre around that. The indoor season will be a great little tester to see where we are and to remind me how to compete.”
AW: What are the essential components of training at this time of year?
“The technical points are now the most important for me,” admits McKinna. “It’s about learning the event and learning the technique.
“When I was younger I used to think it was about being really strong, but obviously that has a shelf life because everyone else will catch up, so for me it’s about learning a really good technique that you can then build on. We’ve been changing my technique very slightly too, making it more efficient, so I’ve been working hard on that to get it automatic.”
AW: Favourite session at this time of year?
“I enjoy all the track stuff, although ultimately I love to throw and that’s why I started down this path. My favourite session is a throwing session when I can show off what I’ve been working on.”
AW: Least favourite?
“Anything to do with plyometrics or high reps. I had one a few weeks ago – four sets of 15 deadlifts – which was atrocious and made me rather ill.”
Remaining part of the team
McKinna was a talented hockey player and although she no longer plays due to the risk of injury, she remains a key squad member and believes the team experience is invaluable.
“I watch every Saturday, they call me ‘pitch- b**ch’,” she laughs. I’m basically the water-boy now, so actually that’s been really good for me because it’s a competitive environment, but it’s a different type of competitiveness.
“When you’re an athlete in an individual sport it can be very lonely, so Saturdays are really nice to get back in the fold with the team.”
A TYPICAL JANUARY TRAINING WEEK
McKinna currently works as a police custody officer and a gym instructor. She trains twice per day, six days per week.
MONDAY: am – stretch/recovery; 15min bike or jog and mobility session; pm – throws session putting into practice drills. “I also help coach a small group of athletes on a Monday before my throws session. They sometimes stay on to watch me throw when they’re finished. I love it and I get so much joy when they PB.”
TUESDAY: am – plyometrics at the beach or track – jumps/sprints; pm – lifting in the gym
WEDNESDAY: “I spend Wednesdays at Lee Valley with my coach Mike (Winch) – he watches how I’m doing technically and will feedback. I also do either plyometrics or gym work.”
THURSDAY: am – stretch/recovery; 15min bike or jog and mobility session; pm – lifting (different lifts to Tuesday)
FRIDAY: am – plyometrics; gym; pm – throws session (after delivering a coaching session as per Monday)
SATURDAY: Rest day
SUNDAY: Gym (“I usually just do one session, but sometimes I’m lifting too”)
“I do a lot of sprinting and a lot of plyometrics,” she says. “Before every throwing session I do short sprints and stuff like standing long jump to build my explosive power. Plyometric work isn’t my favourite thing to do but it’s probably my biggest weakness, so we have to work on that the hardest.”