#WorkoutWednesday with Australia’s Rheed McCracken

The T34 wheelchair racer guides us through a typical day of training ahead of October’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar 15 Apr 2015
Wheelchair athlete on the track

Rheed Mccracken of Australia competes in the Men's 200m -T34 heats on day 6 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games

ⒸGetty Images

I won’t lie – I’m a pretty bad cook, but I like my food. The only pasta I can cook is carbonara, I like salad too because it’s really easy to make, and of course veggies are easy too.

Australian teenager Rheed McCracken won 100m T34 silver and 200m T34 bronze in his first Paralympic Games in London when he was just 15-years-old.

Now, with even more experience under his belt – including three silvers and a bronze from the 2013 IPC Athletics World Championships in Lyon, France – McCracken is gearing up for a thrilling year of competition, culminating in this year’s World Championships in Doha, Qatar, in October.

With his sights set on topping the podium ahead of his chief rival, Tunisia’s multiple world and Paralympic champion Walid Ktila, McCracken takes us through his ‘Workout Wednesday’.

Rheed McCracken’s #WorkoutWednesday

I come from Bundaberg on Australia’s Queensland coast, but I regularly travel to work with my coach Andrew Dawes, who is based in Newcastle, New South Wales. It’s over 1,000km away, so I have a small rental unit I stay in when I’m there.

I’m in Newcastle at the moment, and we’ve been focussing a lot on my conditioning. We have two sessions each day, and the morning session normally starts about 07:30, so I set my alarm for a little bit earlier. I’ll get up about 07:00, maybe a bit before.

I like to follow a bit of a routine: I have to have a coffee every morning. When I’m at home I’ll just get up and have my coffee there, but when I’m away, like now, I head to the nearest café.

My coach’s house is just round the corner from where I stay, so I make sure I leave myself enough time to sit down at the café then I head round to his; I don’t eat before training.

I jump in my race chair and we push straight from there to the track which is probably about 2km away. We train for about an hour and a half, and depending on the session it could be something like four sets of four 200m, with a little recovery in between.

Then I’ll head back home and get something to eat. Maybe there’s something in the fridge or it might be an ‘Up-and-Go’ – it’s a breakfast drink - like a protein milk drink but you can just buy them at the shop. I don’t take any supplements. That normally sees me through to lunch, maybe with a banana too.

After my morning session I like to walk down to the local shop and get something to eat for lunch – I’ll grab something to cook later for my dinner while I’m there. I like to plan that at the same time. Most of the time I just get something on the day – I don’t do a weekly shop.

Back in my rental unit I’ll eat lunch - I might have a ham sandwich and cut some lettuce up too; something that’s not too heavy ahead of my next session. Then I laze around for a little bit, call my folks, do my emails and watch a bit of television for a couple of hours.

I like to watch ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’, that’s normally on television before I start to get ready for my next session which starts about 15:00. If I do a track session in the morning, normally the afternoon session will be on the roads. Whatever we do, the day goes pretty quick.

Coach is out with me every time – he rides a bike and I push behind him. There are plenty good places to ride around nearby, there’s a bike park too, so I can ride without getting in the way of traffic. It’s quite cool here at the moment – I’m not used to the cold mornings. Where I come from the coldest we have is 25 degrees, whereas here it’s about 15 degrees so it’s a bit of a change that I’m still getting used to.

We might be out for about an hour, then I head back home to cook dinner. I like chicken so I cook a lot of that, or steak and veggies. I won’t lie – I’m a pretty bad cook, but I like my food. The only pasta I can cook is carbonara, I like salad too because it’s really easy to make, and of course veggies are easy too.

In the evenings I’ll normally watch television – I like cartoons like ‘The Simpsons’. I really don’t socialise that much here as I’m not from here, but most of the time after a hard session I just want to be by myself anyway. I find that I get too worn out if I plan other stuff. I want to use the time wisely and focus on training.

I’ll have my shower and hop in to bed about 21.30 or 22.00 hours and I’ll listen to music as I go to sleep. I don’t like sleeping in silence, so music helps me doze off. I have an active mind, and I always plan the next day in my head. That’s something I’m trying to work on - just to take each day as it comes. Then I wake up the next day and do it all again.

McCracken is set to be one of 1,300 athletes from 90 countries who compete at the 2015 IPC Athletics World Championships which take place in Doha, Qatar, between 22-31 October.