20 Questions on Health and Fitness: Irish World Cup hockey star Katie Mullan
Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Irish hockey star and former camogie player Katie Mullan, from Coleraine
1 Up and at it – what is your morning routine?
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. Some days I am up at 6am for the gym and I will just have a light snack or smoothie beforehand so I can enjoy a substantial breakfast afterwards. A morning mobility session is a must for me – around 20 minutes of yoga and stretching. I tend to follow the same routine, with particular focus on my back. If the whether permits, I love to go for a short stroll with my headphones plugged in to start the day.
2 What might you eat in a typical working day for...
Breakfast? The ultimate breakfast for me is poached eggs, smashed avocado, baby tomatoes and sourdough bread. This is a must on game day.
Lunch? In summer, lunch is usually salad and in winter, soup. My favourite soup is my mum's sweet potato, coconut and chilli. If it's going to be a heavy training day when I need more fuel, I might have a wrap or sandwich.
Evening meal? A stir-fry with plenty of veggies and chicken or beef. There’s not much food I don’t like, so dinner tends to vary a lot.
3 Is nutrition important to you?
Yes, incredibly important and it has taken me the last five years to get this right. I have to make sure I am getting the right amount of fuel into my body to match the physical output of training, while also making sure to get the correct nutrients on board. I consider the most important nutrition factors to be the timing of meals and portion control.
4 Best meal ever?
Has to be breakfast the morning of the World Cup final in London, not because of the taste or what we were eating, but because of the company of my team-mates and the sheer excitement for the day ahead of us.
5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Ice-cream – but it's much easier to avoid in the winter. There is a great Italian ice-cream restaurant in my home town called Morelli's where I fell in love with ice cream at a young age.
6 Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?
I haven’t been on a very specific diet, just one with reduced calories and increased protein to help make me more lean. It was still a balanced diet, which was good, but it was difficult to ensure I was still properly fuelled for training.
7 Do you take health supplements?
No. I try to get all of the necessary nutrients from the food I eat. On occasion, I may take some vitamin C if I’m beginning to feel a bit under the whether.
8 How do you relax?
I love to go surfing, especially in my home town, or if there are no waves I will go cliff-jumping – something that involves the sea! It helps clear the mind and my body always feels better afterwards.
9 Teetotal or tipple?
When there’s something to celebrate, I do enjoy a few deserved drinks with team-mates.
10 Stairs or lift?
Totally depends on which floor I’m headed to and if I’ve already done a weights session that day. When we are away with the national squad, we squeeze the majority of the team into the lift and the rest have to take the stairs.
11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?
Most weeks look the same, with three hockey sessions, two strength sessions, two running sessions and one or two matches on the weekend.
12 Best tip for everyday fitness?
Hydration and sleep are critical to keeping up your fitness. If you are training, I reckon you need at least five litres of water per day.
13 On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?
Having just finished the Women's Hockey World Cup, I would say an eight. At the start of this year I set some goals to be in the best physical shape going to into the the event and, thankfully, I achieved them. However, I would say you can always be fitter and that’s the beauty of it.
14 Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?
No, I haven’t, but I am always interested to try new things and see what works best for me.
15 Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?
I have some very fond sporting memories from my time at Dalriada. Across both hockey and many other sports, I learnt some vital lessons around teamwork and attitude which have stood by me in my international hockey career.
16 Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?
Not really, but I suppose the biggest change for me was when I was living out of home and cooking for myself 100 per cent of the time. I began to enjoy cooking from scratch and following healthy recipes.
17 Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?
Always make time for your friends, family and loved ones because it's just as important to look after your mental self as it is your physical state.
18 Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?
There are a few female sports women such as Serena Williams and Katie Taylor, but my Irish hockey team-mates often inspire me most. They will push themselves to be at the highest fitness level and this motivates me to do the same – and, most importantly, not let them down.
19 What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?
Normally it will be 11pm, but this can be earlier if I am up for training the next morning. I try to get at least eight hours' sleep per night, but during tournaments and heavy training blocks, I need much more for the body and mind to recover.
20 Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?
Yes, I get an extreme kick from training and trying to stay healthy. I can’t see that ever changing, so I imagine that I will always try to stay relatively fit and healthy.