Ellie Lewis

International Rower

In five years’ time, I will be:

Nearly 30 years old… It’s hard to see that far into the future, but for now my long-term goals look towards the tough challenge of making the LW2x for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. With lightweight rowing not likely continuing beyond the next Olympics, I am excited by the opportunity to perhaps steer my sights towards new challenges… I’ve always wanted to complete an Ironman! 

Career highlights:

  • Bronze medal at U23 World Championships in BLW4x in 2013. 

  • 2nd at Great Britain Senior Rowing Trials in LW1x in 2018. 

  • Selected for my first Senior GB vest at World Cup I in LW2x in Belgrade, Serbia 2018. 

  • Selected for my first Senior World Championships in LW4x in Plovdiv, Bulgaria in 2018. 

What does your standard training week involve?

My standard training week involves 2 training sessions a day, 6 days a week with 1 rest day. Each day begins at 7:30am with a long rowing session on the river, followed by either another row, an ergo or a weights session. Weekly I complete >150km of aerobic and interval-based training. Between training sessions I take 2 hours of recovery time to refuel, switch-off and debrief. 

Where is your favourite place to train?

Each year, around Easter time, I go on a training camp to Temple-sur-Lot in France, and this is my favourite training venue by far. It is a base made specifically for training camps, with a gym, accommodation, food and boating facilities a stone’s throw away from the riverbank. The stretch of river is 25km long and is the perfect place to complete long endurance sessions and practice race pieces. Although quite isolated, the scenery is stunning and if the weather behaves, the water is beautifully glassy and perfect for rowing. 

What is your favourite race?

My favourite race to date was World Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland in 2018. It was my second GB Senior representation and I raced in the LW4x with 3 of my best friends in the sport. The competition at the World Cups is always fierce and we finished 0.2seconds off a bronze medal. This was such a huge learning curve in my rowing career and it was absolutely incredible to battle toe-to-toe against the best athletes in the world! The racing was held on the Rotsee, also known as ‘The Lake of the Gods’, and is the most stunning venue I have ever been to! 

What are your top 3 Kymira Sport garments?
When do you use them and why?

Training Leggings

My favourite KYMIRA garment is my Training Leggings. I mainly use these during a weights session to keep my leg muscles warm and regulate my body temperature. Their comfortable and flexible fit allows maximal range of movement for lifting and the infrared technology optimises my energy expenditure during a strenuous session. I also tend to put my leggings on immediately after a race or training piece, utilising their compression component to assist with recovery and removing exercise by-products from my legs post-race. 

Infrared Ankle Socks

I always race in my KYMIRA infrared ankle socks. Partly because they have become my latest “lucky socks”, but also because I love the fit of the higher ankle and supportive arch material, meaning they don’t slide down or cause friction when I’m rowing. 

PrO2 Cycle Jersey

Another garment I really like is the PrO2 Cycle Jersey. I love to go cycling as extra cross-training and this jersey has a comfortable fit and allows you to be easily seen. The breathable fabric, alongside the infrared technology, means it’s great for warm summer rides as well as over the top of the infrared long sleeve in the winter.  

What is your favourite training accessory?

My favourite training accessory is my Garmin watch and heart rate strap. I use this for every session to track my heart rate and GPS rowing speeds to make sure I am training at the right intensity. It’s also a great tool to track my progress and see how my body is reacting/adapting to the training load, and whether I am recovering properly. 

What has been the toughest experience in your career and what did you learn from it?

There have been many tough moments in my rowing career and success certainly isn’t a straight line. Most recently, an under-performance at my first World Cup regatta in Belgrade in 2018 in the LW2x was a very tough experience to reflect upon. It was my first Senior International debut, I felt extremely overwhelmed to be racing in the Olympic boat class and I let the pressure affect my performance. I learnt a lot about managing my thoughts and mindset building up to a big race, managing the expectations and being confident in my own racing strategy and ability. 

What is the most common training mistake you see? Any suggestions on how to avoid it?

I think the most common training mistake is not completing the session/workload at the right intensity. Every session in the training programme has a purpose and if you are not training your body within the correct ‘zone’, the desired adaptations will not occur, and it is very easy to become over-trained/under-recovered. Using a HR monitor is a great tool to help you stay within the heart rate zone you are targeting and therefore maximise the benefits from each training session. 

What motivates you to train and race harder?

I am motivated by discovering new levels to my physical and mental capacity. Every athlete, myself included, wants to be the best in the World and become a World or Olympic champion, but to get there you’ve got to enjoy the journey. I am motivated by setting short-term goals, tracking improvement and making the most of the process. The human body can do incredible things, and I feel grateful that I have the opportunity to better myself each day by training hard and racing against other inspiring athletes to get to the top of our sport. 

Describe your diet/meal plan leading up to a big race:

As a lightweight athlete, I am required to weigh-in <2hours before a race at <57kg. This has a big effect on my nutrition plan around racing. Leading up to racing I eat well-balanced meals, high in protein to repair muscles from the training load, also incorporating low GI carbohydrate sources (oats, quinoa, couscous, rice), vegetables and pack in as many vitamins and antioxidants as possible. 

On race day, after weigh-in it is important to rehydrate with electrolytes and replenish stores with carbohydrate and energy ready to race. My favourite is overnight oats, I add protein powder, berries, cinnamon and honey.  

How do you balance your training and racing life with life outside the sport?

I make sure that when I am away from training I allow myself to fully switch-off, mentally and physically. Whether that’s by drawing, reading, working part-time jobs or seeing friends/family. 

What type of nutritional supplement do you find most helpful?

I do not use nutritional supplements as I try to get everything I need from the food I eat. However, when racing I use caffeine/coffee to help me perform.  

What is the best thing about being an athlete?

The best thing about being an athlete is that I get to do what I love every day, alongside some inspiring and like-minded individuals. I love to push myself and discover new boundaries and in doing that I learn about myself and acquire powerful skills that will help me in all aspects of life. Every day I come face to face with problem-solving, communication, managing failure, working under pressure and developing resilience. I also get to spend so much time outdoors, appreciating the nature, fresh air and get to train my body to reach new levels and be the best version of itself. 

What is the worst thing about being an athlete?

The worst thing about being an athlete is the sacrifices you sometimes have to make with your family and friends. Rowing requires a lot of time, dedication, sleep and trips away. I often have to miss out on social events, parties and family weekends, but I always try to make up for it when I do get the time off. I believe it is so important to spend time with those that make you happy and I am lucky to have such a brilliant support network of family and friends who always understand.