Beyond The Finish Line - Harriet Brown

Recently we sat down with Super Clinic Physio brand ambassador, Harriet Brown. From finding motivation in team camaraderie to personal goals, Harriet reflects on her career in sport over the past 15 years. Highlighting the pivotal moment she became the Nutri-Grain Ironwoman Champion to overcoming multiple setbacks, we dive deep into what drives Harriet to motivate the next generation of female athletes! 

What inspires and motivates you within your chosen sport?

There is not just one single thing that inspires and motivates me to pursue a career in sport for the past 15 years. My motivation comes and goes and I continuously draw new motivation and inspiration from my circumstances and surroundings. I am inspired by those around me who I train with. Seeing the effort that all the Northcliffe SLSC girls put in inspires me to keep turning up, training hard and pushing my body to the limit too. I am personally motivated to see how fast, strong and fit I can be. I love that feeling of stringing together weeks of good quality training and turning up to a race knowing I have left no stone unturned. I love winning, I would be lying if I said that winning didn’t have a big part to play. It’s an incredible feeling knowing you’re the best in the world at something.

I also get so much joy out of young kids coming to watch us race. It’s a satisfying feeling when I have inspired someone else to believe in themselves and chase their dreams too. I am certainly not motivated all the time. I often feel unmotivated to swim 6km when I wake up at 4:37am in the morning. However, I have a plan in place and stick to it. That way I don’t have to rely on motivation alone. I know what I have to do, and consistency is the key.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt throughout your career?

My favourite saying is quite simple: ‘If it is to be, it’s up to me’ and I try to live by that. I rely on myself to achieve my goals. There is no one else to blame when things don’t go to plan, and it keeps me accountable. This doesn’t mean I embark on my goals alone, I certainly reach out for help when I need it and have built a wonderful support network around me with coaches, physios, family and friends. I use this mentality when training and racing; I don’t just sit back and ‘hope’ things will work out and I’ll race well. I take ownership of my goals, my training, my motivation and of course how hard I work. Every time I have had a setback, I have learnt a valuable lesson about myself.

What is one of the most memorable moments in your career so far?

I have many memorable moments throughout my sporting career. Some are highlights, some are lowlights and many include the incredible overseas trips I have been on to compete. If I had to choose one memorable moment that stands out to me, I would pick winning the Nutri-Grain ironwoman Series in 2021. This is especially memorable as the season before I had a significant foot injury requiring two surgeries. I had to work through many obstacles and rehab to come back and be able to even put my foot on the line to race. I put in so much work leading into that season, there were so many times I doubted myself and wanted to give up. Winning that title is the proudest I have ever been of myself as an athlete.


What do you prioritise when it comes to self-care?

In my world of training up to 15 sessions per week, self-care isn't a luxury; it's a performance enhancer. It's about giving my body the love and attention it deserves so that it can perform at its absolute best. Sleep, nutrition, social connections, and personal enjoyment are the cornerstones of my self-care routine, helping me stay at my best.

Personally, I find it challenging to prioritise self-care sometimes, especially when life gets busy and there are so many competing demands. So, when it comes to self-care, here's what I prioritise:

Sleep: Sleep is underrated as a performance enhancer and overall boost to well-being. When I’m sleeping my body repairs and recovers and prepares me for the next day of training. I make sure I maintain a consistent sleep schedule aiming to get to bed by 8:30pm on week nights. 

Eating good quality foodA balanced diet rich in proteins, complex carbohydrates, good fats and plenty of fruits and vegetables is the key. I pay attention to how much I need to eat to fuel my training and recover after training. However, food is not just about fuelling my body. It’s also about the enjoyment of eating something I love with friends and family.

Spending time with friends: While training is a huge part of my life, I know the importance of balance. Spending time with friends is like a mental recharge for me. Social connections are really important.  

Doing things I enjoy: Self-care isn't just about physical health; it's about mental well-being too. Doing things I enjoy outside of sport is important. Whether it's reading a good book, hanging out at the beach, or watching a movie, these activities bring me joy and help me relax.

In addition to physical training, what mental strategies do you use to stay focused and motivated, especially during tough times?

In addition to physical training, I rely on several mental strategies to stay focused and motivated, especially when faced with tough times. These strategies help me maintain my commitment and drive:

Goal settings: I regularly write short term and longer-term goals to help me stay on track. The daily tasks I set myself are stepping stones to my big dream goals and help them seem less daunting.  Sometimes I need to adapt and adjust these goals especially when things aren’t going to plan.

Positive self-talk: It’s easy to doubt yourself when you have set backs. I work on changing my inner dialogue to positive self-talk and reminding myself of my strengths and what I have overcome in the past.

Mindfulness and meditation: I know this helps me relax, reset and stay in the present. I come back to mindfulness and meditation when I need it the most. I would like to practice this more regularly and it is something I am working on.

Visualisation: This can be a powerful tool. I use visualisations to help become more familiar and comfortable with specific situations and skills such catching a big wave or sprinting up the beach. 

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about what it means to be a healthy athlete?

A healthy athlete is multi-faceted, encompassing both a healthy mind and body. Athletes have to push themselves to the limit day in, day out and there are many situations when it all becomes too much, and their bodies start to break down and aren’t functionally as they should be. A healthy athlete should be working towards flourishing in many aspects of life including sport, body, relationships, a career outside of sport and positive mental health.

Mental ill-health is unfortunately common in sport for a variety of reasons. Addressing mental as well as physical health is important for a well-rounded happy person. Personally, after working with many young athletes, one of the most common health issues I see in female sport is under fuelling and over training. This is when the food we eat is not enough to meet the energy demands of the athlete. This is a complex topic that often revolves around body image and pressures in sport. It’s a topic I am really passionate about and share more via KaMana Community workshops.