Taking on the world's best with Hannah Berry

Posted on Thursday, 21 December 2023 under Articles

Professional IRONMAN and ANZCO Foods Brand Ambassador Hannah Berry talks about battling back from injury, taking on the world’s best, and the role great nutrition has played in her pursuit of peak performance in 2024.

Hannah, congratulations on your recent success overseas! Tell us a little about your latest achievements.

Thanks! And yes, it’s been a big few months. It started in Mexico with IRONMAN Cozumel. It was super hot over there, but I felt good the entire way, and was over-the-moon to take my first ever win in an IRONMAN 70.3 event.

Then it was off to Hawaii and the world champs in Kona. Again, it was incredibly warm, and the field was absolutely stacked with world-class talent. This was only my fourth full-distance IRONMAN, but I managed to set a personal best time and break the nine hour barrier, finishing 11th overall (and first amongst the Australasian competitors).

After IRONMAN New Zealand in March this year you made the call to change coaches. What was behind that decision?

It was really just about freshening things up. I’d been with my previous coach for about five years. We had a great relationship, but I needed some new ideas and it felt like the right time in my IRONMAN career to make a change. Training with my new team is a lot different and I’m enjoying the new approach. I’m feeling ultra-motivated and stronger than ever.

You’ve had some injuries to deal with this year. How did you manage to recover so well, and what have you learned about the role of nutrition in that process?

I had an overload injury in my femur coming out of IRONMAN New Zealand in March, and that forced me to completely stop training. During that time I revisited everything from training load and biomechanics to my blood work and, of course, my diet. It was actually a really good opportunity to refocus on the basics that contribute to optimal performance – and nutrition is certainly a key component of that.

One of most important things I’ve realised over the years is that you’ve got to really prioritise eating enough. On big training days you create a massive calorie deficit, and if you continuously under-fuel you’re going to end up sick or injured. It’s something you’ve got to remain aware of every day, making sure you’re taking on enough macronutrients for energy, micronutrients for ongoing wellbeing, and loading up on protein from whole foods, such as New Zealand’s great quality beef and lamb, for recovery.

Are there any favourite meals that you turn to, to ensure your nutrition is on point?

My training days are long and tiring, so I try to keep things as simple as possible. The BBQ is my best friend over the summer period when I live on steaks and lamb racks accompanied by potatoes and a salad. After a big race I find it hard to resist a good old-fashioned burger with a lean beef patty!

ANZCO Foods is the new title partner for IRONMAN New Zealand. Tell us what that means for the event, and the sport in general.

Seriously, ANZCO Foods is the perfect fit for this event! They’re really passionate about good nutrition and providing Kiwis with the knowledge they need to lead healthy, fulfilling lives. Most importantly they genuinely love the sport and the whole ANZCO Foods team has committed to ‘putting the iron into IRONMAN’. Back in March a number of ANZCO Foods employees raced at Taupō, many of them first time IRONMAN competitors, and that really added to the atmosphere on the day. I’m looking forward to them being even more involved in 2024 – and they’re the perfect people to be in charge of the post-race BBQ!

Lastly, what are your goals for the summer race season?

I’ve got some awesome local events lined up in New Zealand, which will culminate with heading back to Taupō for ANZCO Foods IRONMAN New Zealand on March 2nd. I won there in 2021 but had to be satisfied with second in 2023 – so on the back of my great result in Kona I’ll definitely be striving to cross the line first in March and reclaim the title!

Learn more at anzcofoods.com/ironman

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