Up Close with GB Heptathlete Devon Byrne

Up Close with GB Heptathlete Devon Byrne

Sport: Heptathlon (100m Hurdles, High jump, Shot putt, 200m, Long jump, Javelin & 800m)

Occupation: Mathematical Sciences Student @ Loughborough University

Age: 20

Height: 1.74m

Weight:  63kg

What inspired you to take up Heptathlon?

I’ve always dabbled in many sports, playing netball and hockey up to regional standard. When I was younger I also did triathlon, which I loved, but as the distances increased as I got older I figured it wasn’t for me. Now the furthest I have to run is 800m- result! My mother was a GB triathlete so I figured I had to go one better and take up heptathlon which entails seven events as opposed to three.

Please describe a typical week’s training?

This varies week on week depending on what time of the year it is, whether I have a competition at the weekend or often just down to how I feel. For example, at times when University work is particularly heavy I will have a slightly easier week. An average training week is usually 20+ hours, with additional time spent with massage, physios, podiatrists you name it.

Here is a glance at last weeks training:

Monday- Shot, Hurdles, Weights

Tuesday- High jump, sprints session e.g. 4x 60m, 3x 90m, 2x 120m

Wednesday- Hurdles, Javelin, aqua jogging or swim recovery

Thursday- Shot, Long jump, 800m based running session e.g Split 800 (600/200) with 60 second recovery

Friday- Weights, Yoga

Saturday- 400m based running session e.g. 3x 300m , Javelin

Sunday- Rest day often spent sleeping and eating

Rest and recovery is crucial but not something I often enjoy doing, I like to be busy and feel I’m missing out when resting, but this is where you reap all the benefits of the hard work so I do appreciate its importance.

What is the most important or effective part of your training?

Running sessions and gym work take a priority in my programme, with the remaining events built around these key sessions. With the physical ability, changing technical aspects of each event is a lot easier than spending extensive periods of time trying to change something technically without the physical capability to do what is being asked of you. Having said that technical work is far from neglected in my programme, I try to maximise each technical session to the best of my ability as with so many events to train for, some weeks I can only fit in one technical session per event.

What has been the secret behind your step up in athletics this indoor season, after gaining selection for GB?

I’m currently in my 2nd year at Loughborough University studying Maths and Sports science. Last year I made the decision to dedicate all my time to the heptathlon and gave up the other sports. This has made a huge difference and meant I have become a lot more focused at training. As of September last year I began training with a group of specialist 400m runners which has helped my running immensely. Last winter also saw the addition of my first proper block of weights into my programme, since then things have gone from strength to strength (Quite literally, I seem to have picked up a habit of breaking gym equipment)

What/who else influences your sport?

Unfortunately, funding within athletics is very hard to come by so any support I receive I am extremely grateful for. I’m very fortunate to receive the support of ROCKTAPE, especially at the rate I get through kinesiology tape! With such a high load of training new niggles appear often and ROCKTAPE can relieve soreness and tightness with immediate effects, meaning there are no wasted days in the year due to injury.

I have recently been lucky enough to secure an excellent funding stream from Home Counties Insurance, who are based in Ampthill, Bedfordshire. Home Counties are an expanding General Insurance Broker who specialise  in finding insurance solutions  for business  customers with turnovers in excess of £1M.

My athletics club Marshall Milton Keynes AC have also been very supportive over the years and I always enjoy going back home to train there.

My coaching team are all very crucial to my performance, their hard work and patience with me makes all the difference. Emily Hughes my head coach has stood by me through her recent job change, dedicating hours to planning and coaching on top of her new job and I hope to deliver this season to justify her decision (As well as beating her heptathlon score!).  In addition, a huge thank you goes to Mike Baker, Grant Brown, Tim Curtis, Jared Deacon, Julie Hollman and James Whitfield just to name a few other coaches… the joys of combined events.

Finally my friends and family who often remind me it’s not life or death and keep me motivated to push harder every day.

Finally, tell us something we don’t know about you

I seem to possess quite a few weird talents, but the one that people always find the funniest is I am the World Record Pancake Race Holder!!!


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