December 19, 2023

Katie O’Brien on Rowing Training Over Christmas

As we embrace the festive season, it’s inspiring to see athletes like Katie O’Brien, a world champion para-rower and Intersport Elverys brand ambassador, maintain their training schedules.

In this exclusive interview, Katie sits down with us shares her experience and tips on balancing rigorous training with festive celebrations.

You don’t want to miss it!

Plus, you’ll be happy to hear that Katie takes her training serious, but also her downtime!

katie o brien rowing training


Q: Katie, could you introduce yourself and share your most memorable sporting achievement?

A: Hello, my name is Katie O’Brien, a para rower, and an Intersport Elverys brand ambassador. Just this summer, I gained qualification to the Para-Olympic Games in France in 2024

My most memorable achievement was becoming the world champion in 2022. Receiving my medal and spotting my best friend in the crowd was a moment I’ll never forget. I didnt know she was going to be there, so that was a moment I will never forget. 

Q: How do you manage your training routine over the Christmas period?

A: Over Christmas, my routine stays the same, except for Christmas Day. I train 2 or 3 times a day, combining water sessions, rowing machine workouts, and gym workouts. We do get one day off, which is usually Christmas Day, however, I usually train on Christmas Day so I can fully enjoy St. Stephen’s Day instead and be nicely relaxed with my family then.

Q: What’s the biggest difference in your training during the Christmas period?

A: The major difference is training alone at home, instead of the group environment at the National Rowing Centre. It’s more mentally challenging, but it’s a good time to be with family. Training in a big group environment is much easier, because you are egging each other on, rather than being along in my sitting room trying to make the session as intense as possible. 

It’s more mentally challening than physically challenging for sure. There are 27 of us training everyday together in the National Rowing Centre in Cork so that is a lot different to a rower in my sitting room!

Q: How do you balance training with holiday celebrations?

A: I prefer to finish my training early in the day. This way, I can relax and enjoy the rest of the day with my family without worrying about training. There is nothing worse than leaving a session until the evening time and being worried about getting it done, so it’s about ticking the box early and then enjoying the rest of the day.

Q: What’s your approach to diet during this festive season?

A: I don’t restrict myself too much. I eat what I like but remain conscious of maintaining a balanced diet. It’s important to enjoy the festive treats, so anything that’s nice and around me I will eat it! I am specifically looking forward to a post-Christmas Day sandwich, a lot of chocolate and I also love the Christmas pudding witjh brandy, butter cream and custard!

Q: What advice do you have for athletes to stay consistent in their training over Christmas?

A: My advice is to stay consistent and not fall off the wagon. Even if the sessions aren’t perfect, keeping up with the training is crucial. Remember, hard work always pays off. Allocate specific times for training and having fun. It’s essential to balance both well. Be conscious about your schedule and enjoy both training and celebrations.

Just keep chipping away every single day, whetherit’s only 10 or 20 minutes, it all adds up in the long run, but the key is to not totally fall off the wagon, even if your sessions aren’t going well, consistency pays off.

My advice for people just starting out this Christmas or New Year is to take it slowly and build it up. You don’t want to go full hog straight away or you’ll end up broken or injured. Nice and steady incremental gains are what you should aim for.

Q: Who or what inspires you the most in your training?

A: I draw most of my inspiration from my teammates at the National Rowing Centre. Training alongside athletes with world championship and Olympic medals is incredibly inspiring. It’s hard not to be inspired by those people when you’re training with them everyday. They are my biggest inspiration.

Q: What are your training plans for the New Year?

A: We’re starting the New Year with a training camp in Italy. I am heading for two weeks with the rest of the Para team so hopefully we will get in some really good water sessions 

Q: Finally, what’s the best sporting gift you’ve ever received?

A: The best sporting gift I’ve ever received was a basketball hoop one Christmas.  We spent many hours playing outside with this and I think a lot of families probably had one and they can resonate with this. Definitely the best sporting gift I’ve ever got. 


As Katie O’Brien illustrates, balancing training with holiday festivities is about discipline, consistency, and enjoying the moment.

Her insights offer valuable lessons for anyone looking to stay active during the festive season.

Explore Intersport Elverys for gear that supports your training journey, inspired by champions like Katie.