“Mindfulness comes into play and is quite helpful in that firstly, awareness of all of the shit you’re telling yourself which sometimes can be on such autopilot that you’re not even aware that you’re beating yourself up”
An elite athlete and with a PhD in athlete wellbeing, Dr Hannah MacDougall has a unique perspective on emotional, mental and physical performance and wellbeing - so I knew she’d be the perfect guest for Sparta Chicks Radio.
Hannah was 9 when she set the goal to become a Paralympian.
She’s now a dual Paralympian, having competed in swimming at the 2004 Athens and the 2008 Beijng Paralympics.
Other swimming achievements include setting a World Record, winning a Paralympic Bronze medal with her relay teammates and being appointed Captain of the Australian Swimming Team at both a Paralympics and World Championships.
Unfortunately, Hannah suffered from burnout, fell out of love with swimming and eventually quit the sport.
And that’s when she discovered cycling!
Since then, she’s won multiple medals including Gold at both the Australian Para Cycling Championships and, more recently, World Cup events in Europe.
She was also the first female amputee to compete in the “able bodied” women’s time trial race at the Cycling Australia National Championships.
And her next goal is to represent Australia at her 3rd Paralympics in Tokyo in 2020, this time in cycling.
On top of all that, she has a PhD in Athlete Well-Being and has studied, amongst other things, the use of meditation and mindfulness, in sport and life.
In this conversation, we discuss:
* the important role school sport and her teachers played in her upbringing,
* what inspired her at 9 years of age to set the goal to become a Paralympian,
* what she remembers of setting the World Record in the 50m backstroke,
* swimming a PB and winning a Bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Paralympics despite having dislocated her kneecap just one week before her race,
* burnout, and (in hindsight) when she can see the first signs creeping in and (in light of her studies) what she might have done differently,
* her rapid transformation into an elite cyclist including her struggles with injuries in the early days,
* how she uses mindfulness to navigate self-doubt in critical moments,
* her experience with the Imposter Complex
* the research that supports meditation as a tool for your physical health as well as your wellbeing and happiness, and
* the role mindfulness has played in improving her ability to sleep and calm her nerves and anxiety before her races.
Notes and resources: