50+, Fabulous, and Representing GB

 

Louise Wood

Protein is essential for muscle repair and recovery, especially after exercise. The presence of 18 essential amino acids in Edible Health’s 100% pure hydrolysed collagen protein peptides powder makes it particularly ideal for replenishing, refueling and repowering fatigued, sore muscles. Here we learn the story of one amazing athlete’s journey, and why she uses our Marine Collagen Powder

Are you also recovering from an injury? Watch the video at the bottom of this article to discover some useful exercises that could help...

The quiet achiever 

I don’t know her at all, really.  

However, I get the impression from talking to Louise that she’s the kind of person you could spend an entire evening with at a dinner party having a great time. But unless you asked the right questions, you’d probably leave thinking, what a lovely person. You wouldn’t have a clue (actually, that’s not quite true - her physical stature would probably give the game away) that she just so happens to be a lovely person and an elite athlete with a list of records, titles and medals longer than her (very long) legs. 

Born for speed 

Now at 6 foot 1, Louise was born into a tall family. But, in addition to her height, she also showed a natural prowess for speed. By the age of ten she was running and competing for her local Sutton club, all the while mentored by an incredibly generous, voluntary coach who sacrificed much of his time to develop young, local athletes. Louise’s legs were built not just for speed, but for spring. As a result, her coach was quick to recognise her high jumping and hurdling potential as well. She therefore trained for various events, spreading the workload around her growing body as opposed to wearing and tearing one area specifically. 

Before long, Louise’s parents were taking it in turns to drive her to Crystal Palace three times a week, plus competitions. Her coach recognised her increasing talent was beyond his capacity. As a result, he found his own replacement, and she flourished. She was blessed with great coaches, incredible sporting camaraderie, and successful results. She loved everything to do with her sporting life. 

Top of the podium 

Louise is a little vague on all her wins. 

She wouldn’t say it, but I can - it’s because there are so many, it’s hard to keep track of them all! She won English School Championships for three consecutive years. She won Regional and National Championships. Indeed, she won a Senior National Best (Great Britain representation) before she’d won a Junior National Best. She can’t recall the exact year, but somewhere in her late teens she won the Women’s Amateur Athletic Association’s Athlete of the Year. She represented the UK at a Junior International meet in Korea. She competed in the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games in 1986. She qualified, along with her great mate and great sparring partner Debbie Marti - for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. But there wasn’t sufficient funding to take all athletes, so the UK Committee instead selected a heptathlete to perform across multiple events. It’s something that sounds unheard of today. 

Shin splints 

As she neared the end of her teens, Louise developed an ankle injury. This blew into a particularly nasty case of shin splints (from which she suffered during the Edinburgh Commonwealth Games). Away from sport, high school was drawing to a close and university was around the corner. She struggled to maintain motivation to train and compete. Her injury kept dogging her and other life priorities were on her plate. By the age of 22, a degree in chemistry and sports science now under her belt, Louise ‘packed it in’ and said goodbye to serious sport. She accepted a position that would see her pursue the chemistry component of her degree. At the age of 23 she met her future husband, whom she married when she was 31. 

Playschool and power walks 

With two children and a stepchild now in the family, Louise’s priority was her children. Sport really was put on the backburner. Louise would meet other mothers from her area during playschool sessions at the local village hall. One in particular had a pet dog, and suggested they go power walking together in the Surrey hills. Louise loved it. No surprises she took it to the next level. Despite having honed fast-twitch muscles all her life (so using her body for short bursts of speed and power), Louise really enjoyed these longer sessions. Before she knew it, she was raising money and competing in the London Moon Walk (her best time is an amazing five hours 27 minutes to walk the marathon). She liked feeling that sense of personal achievement away from other areas of her life. 

Fifty and a new midlife meaning 

Louise and her husband spent a good decade supporting one of their daughters who had become a national sprinter. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree. It was at one of her daughter’s race meets that Louise met a jumps coach. By this time, Louise was 50 and she’d become aware of the Masters Athletics Network - essentially like the Olympic Games for 35 year olds and upwards. She knew that as you age, your ability to jump vertically declines at a higher rate than your ability to jump horizontally. To this day she remains ranked in the top ten highest jumps of all time in the UK, and may very well return to her speciality in the future. However, long jump seemed like a sound new frontier…

By the end of the afternoon Louise had asked the coach to take her on. He gladly accepted. He advised she would need a good three to four years just to build herself back. She threw herself in the deep end. The first year was incredibly painful. It was a blur of squats, leg and core work, running sessions, plyometric work (explosive bouts of exercise designed to leverage maximum power and speed), bounding as well as the technical work required for jumping. By this time, Louise had developed an interest not only in long jump, but also triple jump. Transitioning from the hop to step can generate up to 20 times your body weight powering through your ankles and feet. It’s crucial to nail the technical side. 

Aside from perfecting this new skill, Louise gets a lot of pleasure working on a sport with which she has no precedents, no prior history. Every evolution is a personal best, rather than a number she would have to compare to performances from decades ago. It’s no surprise therefore, to hear that long jump and triple jump mean Louise is probably going to need another few cabinets for the medals. She’s won Country, Regional and National levels in Masters. Her first summer back into sport, an entirely different event, and already she ranked second in National level. She’s even represented the UK at the indoor championships in Poland last year. 

Fifty and menopause 

At the same time she was putting her body through over eight hours a week of solid training, Louise was also going through menopause. This added a layer of fatigue and challenge to everything she was doing. Fortunately, this new chapter had introduced her to some amazing female athletes, and a strong bond quickly developed between a group. All incredible sportswomen; many world champion title holders and a world record holder; all inspirational characters. They’ve become an extremely tight bunch supporting each other not only to reach their sporting goals, but handling whatever life throws at them. Exceptional friendship, exceptional fitness, and a healthy dose of therapy all mixed in. 

Collagen and recovery from training 

Louise has always taken supplements. When you train four to five times a week, demanding so much of your body, you need to give it extra. She believes this becomes only more critical as we age. For the last eight months Louise has been taking Edible Health Marine Collagen and believes it has had a direct impact on her post-training recovery. Whereas previously her body could really ache from one session into the next, that muscle soreness has eased considerably since she has started to take the collagen. 

I ask her how she takes it. I am expecting to get a really nutritious smoothie recipe that I can add to my growing repertoire. I probably should not be at all surprised when she tells me she stirs it into a bit of water, squeezes in some orange and knocks it back like a shot. Hard core. Like I said, I shouldn’t be surprised. 

Do you have a specific health concern and think collagen might help you? Visit our article detailing common ailments, illnesses and injuries and the role collagen plays.

 

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