6’4" GB outdoor high jump record holder, Isobel Pooley gives us the scoop

Isobel, how do you start a typical day?
The thought of breakfast often motivates me to get out of bed, so I start my day at 8:30 with porridge or scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. Then I head to the track at 9:30 to start training.

TIP #1

Arrive 15 minutes early for your workout and get yourself into a calm, focused mindset before you start. This prepares you for the best workout you can have.

Can you give some examples of specific exercises that you do to stretch?
I take part in a yoga class once a week. It's incredibly relaxing and helps me to keep a level head. It's a strange thing but I've often got a bit tearful during yoga/meditations as I let the stress of training come to the surface and dissipate.

TIP #2

Be sure to include stretching into your training or exercise routine. Yoga promotes flexibility and helps to work muscles in a different way (slower and more controlled).


I love having loads of fresh, healthy food in the fridge so that I can create different combinations – nothing makes me more miserable than an empty veg-drawer!

What are you training towards – e.g. what is your current personal best and are you aiming to top it?
My current PB is 1.97m, just three centimetres off the magical 2m mark that all female high jumpers strive for. I want to jump as high as possible and to put myself in contention for global medals.

How do you learn to jump higher? Do you have to do specific exercises for this?
We do a wide variety of different types of training, centered around power and skill. We practice a lot of technical drills to develop effective movement patterns. We also do short sprints for acceleration and lots of conditioning: both with weights in the gym and simply with bodyweight.


What do you do post-workout?
Post-gym, I’ll have a snack and head to the physio room to use the cryotherapy equipment (ice baths). If my muscles are particularly tight or sore, I’ll also have treatments like acupuncture or soft tissue therapy.

TIP #3

Always pack a tempting after-gym snack to motivate through your workout. Something with plenty of protein for muscle recovery and calcium for bone strength. One of my faves is a mixture of Greek yogurt with peanut butter, granola, and banana!

How do you relax at the end of the day?
A warm shower or Epson-salt bath and LTS PJs! I love cooking and find it really relaxing to spend a hour making healthy home-cooked meal. Also, one day a week I do a painting and drawing class.

TIP #4

Find your zen. Whether it’s cooking a meal or reading a book. Find a way to ‘switch off’.


It’s really nice to have a group of friends from outside sport and to remind me that high jump really isn’t the be-all-and-end-all.

Tell us more about your life an an Olympic athlete!
Being an athlete isn't like any other job: it's not something you can pick up and put down. It's a lifestyle which you have to fully commit to. It's about more than just training: you have to take your recovery, nutrition and lifestyle very seriously. I feel very lucky to have such a huge opportunity and any sacrifices I have to make are well worth it.

TIP #5

Always always incorporate recovery into your exercise routine. Everything from cool-down exercises to muscles massages to nutrition. After all, it’s about taking care of your body.


Photography © Olly Stabler, 2016