SportsAid athletes show incredible levels of commitment, dedication and sacrifice to pursue their ambitions. They train for countless hours, travel great distances, spend lots of time away from home and have to balance their education and social life. They are the country’s brightest young sports stars and they’re determined to reach the top with the charity’s help.
So what’s it like being a SportsAid athlete? #MyMiles With is a series aimed at giving YOU an insight into the lives of the next generation of British sporting heroes, and asking you to keep them company by taking part in the #MyMiles Challenge during SportsAid Week. This time it’s the turn of Great Britain 110m hurdler Khai Riley-La Borde to take you into his world....
“I wake up 8am to make sure I have a nutritious breakfast before I go to strength and conditioning which starts at 11am. This allows my body to fully digest my breakfast to prevent cramps and being sick when training. The session usually takes one hour and 30 minutes, and during the season, includes halving the reps and sets but keeping the weight the same. I then take a 45 minute drive to see an osteopath in which I have my hips and back readjusted as well as a full flush down ready for the rest of training in the week.”
“I will get up around 8am again and have breakfast. While eating breakfast, which tends to be either porridge or scrambled eggs with avocado, I message my coach to confirm training for the afternoon. I do drills which are always on my full height hurdles and may be closer to each other if working on speed or further apart if working on endurance. This is followed by plyometrics at the track which tend to be box jumps or bounds of five. This is normally between one hour and one hour and a half long. I then go to do a food shop and prepare this at home where I chill and watch YouTube videos.”
“I tend to rest on Wednesdays. I get up late and have a quick stretch. I can sometimes go into work and fix a couple of cars if busy, if not, I go to my local field and do active tempo runs on the grass to promote recovery. Active tempo runs are a way to remove any lactate (a by-product of burning carbohydrates) from the body from previous sessions. They are usually runs that are about 50-70% of your maximum speed. A session I tend to do is a simple 10x100 with 30 seconds recovery and three minutes in-between three sets. I go at a pace where I can still have a conversation with another person if they are running next to me.”
“Hurdle starts is the focus of our session. We look at the small errors at the start of the race to build me up for the latter part. This is usually one hour. Hurdle starts are the most technical session of my week, so I tend to try be fresh for this session. I treat this session almost as a race as I am giving 100% in each run. We determine how fast the run was by using a stopwatch and logging in my times onto my phone to use for an end of year review.”
“Fridays tend to be similar to Wednesdays in terms of tempo runs and resting up - especially after a technical session. I try to add an ice bath or a bath with Epsom Salt to recover the legs faster. As it is Friday, I do chill at my house and watch YouTube videos, mostly random ones such as $1 donut vs $100 donut - I recommend you watch it!”
“Competition day. Every competition I take seriously, whether it’s county level or international level, and I will keep the same mindset going into each race. I try get to the competition at least two hours before my call-up time. That’s the time before you race and are given your lane draw, as well as checking bags and spikes. Upon arrival I check in and receive my bib numbers, from there I find a quiet spot and rest my bags down before going to take a peek at the venue. I then sit down with my stuff and put my numbers on my vest as I listen to my athletic playlist (consisting of Hip Hop and RnB). I keep hydrated using electrolytes to prevent cramping and usually have a light shake out before starting my main warm up. My warm up includes dynamic stretches, a jog, sprint drills, hurdle drills then lastly, hurdle starts. With this all complete, I enter the call-up room before getting into my zone. I pray before heading out to the track then refocus to race. Depending on how well my race went will determine whether I get a tub of Ben and Jerrys to celebrate or not!”
“My body is usually knocked after competing to the best of my ability. I normally have two days off training after a race so I make sure I am well stretched and recovered after my race. I avoid much walking and stick to a lot of resting.”
How many hours do you train in total during an average week?
“Five hours if competing. I would estimate around eight hours when I’m not as the sessions are longer, such as strength and conditioning, as I am not cutting them in half.”
What are the first three words which come into your head when training has gone well?
“Progress - knowing I am taking one step forward and none back. Success - everything I was given to do in the session was completed effectively which resulted in me having a positive mindset towards the end goal. Gratefulness - being able to be in the position I am in and just thanking God and the people around me for allowing me to be doing what I enjoy.”
What are the first three words which come into your head when you think about a bad day?
“Failure - knowing I haven’t achieved what I set out to do or was given. Motivated - wanting to bounce back from a bad session. This could even mean going to do an extra workout to level out the bad session with a good one because I still have my eyes on the prize. Refresh – sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan due to many factors. However, you shouldn’t dwell on one bad session but instead take what didn’t go right and come back with a clear head ready for the next as that is now in the past.”
What motivates you the most?
“What keeps me motivated is knowing I am making my parents proud. They came to this country by themselves at a young age and knowing they work hard to provide for me and my athletics career, makes me want to work harder and show them that it was not a waste of time and I could make something of myself. My end goal would be to make Team GB at the Olympics, but most importantly, inspire the next generation in any way that I can.”
How do you best measure your progress?
“The only time I review with my coach is at the end of the season as we don’t want to get distracted on what we can improve on or what we think needs changing as it might be a simple reason as we haven’t had the ‘perfect race’ yet. Regarding my strength and conditioning, we test every six weeks to see what areas need improving on the most and avoid lifting too heavy or lifting too light.”
How do you balance the demands of training at busy times in your life?
“Fortunately the university I attend (UEL) have a brilliant sports scholarship programme which allows me to focus on my training as well as my studies. I have always had good time management so balancing work with studies and training has not been a problem, but since going to university, I have found it a lot easier.”
What are the biggest sacrifices you feel you have to make?
“I don’t feel I make sacrifices as I enjoy what I do, and I have willingly chosen to live this lifestyle. I have not been one to party and go out so I feel I am in my element when going to bed early and waking up for training in the morning.”
What food and drink products do you always wish you could have?
“During the season I do miss cake a lot! I can eat a whole cake from Costco when I do. I have also given up meat for athletic purposes, so now and then when I am out to eat, I smell the chicken and wish I could have it. I am not too keen on fizzy drinks but the KA Fruit Punch is my favourite. I have to avoid this in season due to the amount of sugar in one bottle.”
What is a work-out or session you enjoy doing?
“One session I have a love/hate relationship with is from pre-season training when I’m doing my strength and conditioning. We call it ‘Fat Camp’ in which we do high intense and short recovery exercises. One session may include: 20 jump squats; 20 squats; 20 press ups; 20 triceps dips; 20 pull ups; 20 bent over rows. We do this three times. This is then followed by 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, on a watt bike….eight times.”
Which social media accounts can people follow you on?
The #MyMiles Challenge is a fun and easy way to show your support for the next generation of British athletes during SportsAid Week this September. Check out the charity's step-by-step guide for how you can get involved and start planning your own #MyMiles Challenge!