Isabella Thornton-Bott at the 2018 Australian Championships. Photo by Ewa Facioni

By Caitlin Murdock – Runner’s Tribe

Rising star Isabella (Izzy) trains under coach Ben Liddy at Central Performance Track (NSW) and with Dave Costello at The Right Fit PT Performance.  Izzy is a middle distance runner originally from the UK but living and in Sydney. Runner’s Tribe have spoken to Izzy about her training and her upcoming goals and races.

What are you favourite events?

I currently train mainly for the 800m and 1500m.

What are your PBs?

  • 800m – 2:08.24
  • 1500m – 4:29.71

Can you tell us about some of the training you do?

This year we’ve taken a slightly new approach to training on the track by keeping in at least one high intensity session per week. With it being the winter season, we do lots of grindier, aerobic sessions.  For example, 2 x 3 x 800m with a lap jog recovery and 3 minutes between sets or 1600m, 1200m, 1k, 800m, 600m with decreasing recoveries.

The high intensity sessions involve sessions along the lines of 250/200/250 with lots of recovery in between.  So these need to be run at 100% effort.

We also mix it up with fartlek’s, thresholds and sprints, depending on what session we’ve done, location and how hard we’ve worked in said session.

Isabella Thornton-Bott training in NSW

Do you do any gym work?  If so, what?

Yes, gym work is integral to my training program.  In the gym I do two sessions a week. We always start off with around 10 minutes of glute work and mobility exercises for movement prep.  I am currently on a winter program building into low repetition max strength exercises, whereas in the summer we do more power and speed work while backing off the volume.

I try and obtain a balance between resistance training, core exercises and anything else I specifically need to work on at the time.  Both Liddy and Dave are runners themselves, so they really know what they’re talking about both on and off the track and in and out of the gym.

What are your current goals?

I have had a rather late starting career on track.  Looking back, I seem to have started track seriously around four years ago.  I had disrupted season this year with injury; so, my first goal is to bring down my current PBs by a significant amount, and after that I want to give it everything to qualify for World Uni Games in Napoli next year.

Isabella Thornton-Bott

What is your happiest running moment/proudest achievement?

Probably when I won two Bronze Medals in the u20s 800m and 1500m at the National Junior Championships in 2017.  I ran a significant 800m PB which doubled as my 4th race in as many days, my whole squad did awesome in it and it was the first time I really felt like I could get somewhere with Athletics.  It was a really special week and had a phenomenal atmosphere, and there’s this hilarious video from my 1500m presentation too which is fun to look back on and laugh at.  

Why do you love running?

I can’t really put my finger on why I love it so much.  Mostly because it’s such a pure sport in the sense that it’s just you and the track; and that you can’t really succeed in it by accident.  I love the feeling/sensation of freedom while running; it’s that feeling when you get it right and everything with your body seems to work like a fine-tuned machine. I feel so lucky to enjoy the camaraderie on and off the track in this sport, and, obviously, I am part of the best squad in the world and have the best coach in Australia helping me through, what more could I ask for?

I’ve been running and climbing since I was around nine months old and racing Cross Country since I was five, so it’s always been an inextricable part of me.  Also, when you’re able to reap the rewards of your hard work, either by making teams or earning titles that once upon a time I didn’t think I’d ever reach. It’s also fun to call my best friend Tash over for ‘dinner’ but it’s usually an excuse to make sure she’s there to braid my hair before a race.  I have a lot of different people supporting me from all over the place; Sydney, Nowra, Armidale, England, India and Spain! You can’t buy something like that.

Isabella Thornton-Bott and team with coach Ben Liddy.

What is your ultimate goal?

To race in an Olympic final. 

What do you find is the hardest thing about running?

I don’t really find running “hard” necessarily, but there are times when trying to fit your training in around other commitments can be tough, and I’m not much of a morning person so making sure you’re up in time to get everything you need to have done in a day, especially around university, work, and some form of a social life can be an effort!

I thrive on routine so once I find that equilibrium between study, work, play, recovery and training everything is smooth sailing! I ’m also a pro at putting lots of pressure on myself, so letting stuff go and accepting not every session will be your best I can find difficult.  I think my most immediate challenge though is actually getting my contacts in!

Last year I had my first ever injury – a stress reaction in my left tibia and bone edema in my left knee right before the season started which was particularly gutting, especially since I’d had a great training block over winter. I was lucky though, because I was able to run again not long after Christmas and was racing by the time Hunter rolled around. I know lots of athletes who have been out for whole seasons and unable to run properly for years in some cases. While I considered it very challenging during and for a short while after I can’t really complain.  At the end of the day it’s just about taking each day as it comes and working through what you can when you can.

Isabella Thornton-Bott

What do you like to do in your free time?

I do sports photography – present on both Facebook and Instagram @ITBPro. #plugwhenyoucanladies

I like spending time with my dog.  have the cutest puppy in the world (I am obligated to mention this at every opportunity).

Thanks Izzy for taking the time to speak to us and good luck with your upcoming cross country season!