We’ve managed to catch up with Morgan Mitchell, the incredibly powerful and elegant vegan Australian Sprinter, to see what’s new.
Morgan took a break from running around the world to grant us some rare insight into her personal challenges, her athletic goals, and her no-nonsense attitude towards individual ethical responsibility. We chat about everything from her sources of inspiration, her day to day routine, and how she manages (hint: like a boss) to live a cruelty-free life.
So, tell us: what is the life of a sprinter like?
The life of a sprinter is pretty full on. Every move you make away from the track impacts how you perform on it. You know, in terms of diet, sleep, relationships, etc.
It is hard to stay balanced but when you get it right, it's perfect.
I train every day except Friday, and 3 out of 6 of those days I have between 2-3 sessions in a day. People would consider it crazy, but it is all part of the job. I wouldn't change it for anything.
Where are you based these days?
I am still based in Melbourne at the moment, for about half of the year from October to March, and then we typically head to Queensland for a training camp which runs for 2-4 weeks. After that, I usually head straight to Europe to start my international campaign before the major meet of that year.
So, from May to August or September I am overseas somewhere, training and racing around Europe, and sometimes even America and Asia.
It really is tough, because you only spend 2-3 days in one country, but I always find the time to explore a little bit. Otherwise I would go mental!
I cannot even imagine how hard you must have to work to be where you are. Would you say that you’re living your childhood dream?
Yeah, to be honest, I really am. I remember wanting to go to the Olympics when I was younger, and to look back now and see that I have ticked that box is just crazy to me!
I have this dream journal which is like a bucket list (I am forever adding new things to it), and in 2016 alone I had ticked off about 6 things! It was huge for me.
Athletics has opened so many doors, and all of the early mornings, tears, and long hours definitely paid off.
What was the best and the worst thing about Rio 16?
The best part was being able to mix with some of the best athletes in the world, and making it to the absolute top. It was literally a dream.
Being able to call yourself an Olympian is pretty special!
The worst part was my semi-final race. I got way too ahead of myself, which caused me to ditch my race plan and have things go completely south.
It didn't go to plan at all, but I came back in the relay and made the final with an amazing bunch of girls, so I guess that kind of made up for it. You live and you learn, right?
You had a couple of challenging months recently in the lead up to, and after, London (world athletics championships). How do you find balance in such a demanding, competitive world?
Yeah, it was tough. People forget I'm only 22 and haven't been on the competitive circuit for that long at all. I'm still trying to figure out who I am, off the track as well as on it, and it is so hard.
I should've talked to my team a lot earlier about my feelings, but I didn't and that sucked. I now put my happiness first no matter what.
I know athletics is my job and I love it, but I also add in other hobbies to keep me sane and keep things interesting. People get to see a different side of you, and I found that it helps me separate myself from the ‘athlete’, because it got to the point where I felt like I was being judged as a person dependent on the time I ran, or the place I came in a race.
That was an emotional rollercoaster and I got lost in it. But I'm getting there, and getting better! :)
What’s the most played track on your motivational playlist?
Oh, you got me here; I have such a versatile playlist! From ‘Yiruma-river Flows in You’ to ‘Deadweight’ by Parkway Drive. But I’m really into Johnny Cash's song 'Hurt' at the moment, so I think I will have to go with that.
It is forever changing, ha.
Who inspires you?
My mum really inspires me. Her story is amazing and I love her so much. She has been a good role model for me over the years, and I basically owe everything to her and my old coach, Peter Burke.
What’s your diet like?
My diet is quite strict during season, as it is important to be at race weight. I am a vegan, obviously, and I have a dietician (she is a wonder woman) who helps plan my eating around my training/racing!
I am quite simple too, and have grown up loving my fruit and veg! So for me, eating a balanced diet is easy. In off season, though, it's armageddon. I will allow myself to eat whatever I want because I only get 2/52 weeks to do so.
Any guilty pleasures?
Dates filled with peanut butter and covered in chocolate. Oh, and anything from Mister Nice Guy’s Bakery. That place is a blessing and a curse.
There is an old myth out there that you need to consume meat to be healthy. As a professional athlete, do you feel any pressures to follow a certain diet?
I don't feel the pressure at all...usually when I get asked where I get certain vitamins and minerals from, I put the question back onto those asking, and they struggle to answer it themselves.
I'm happy with the choices I’ve made (being vegan), and I am running personal bests and lifting heavy in the gym, so I'm not complaining!
What is your definition of ‘ethical’?
Doing the right thing and spreading love.
How do you incorporate this concept into your life?
I am just more mindful about the decisions I make. I am not selfish about my choices when it comes to the environment, otherwise it just plays on my mind and that sucks. From food to fashion, I try to do the right thing.
It can be tough at times, just like anything, but I like the challenge.
Do you think the world is moving towards a more conscious, sustainable, and kind future?
I personally think it is, and it is amazing. I think we definitely have a long way to go but that’s all a part of it. A person not being ashamed to go left and do the right thing is just refreshing and really good to see.
Most women are absolutely against animal cruelty, but inadvertently finance horrific animal cruelty by making certain choices when it comes to fashion and cosmetics – simply because there is a lot of misinformation out there. Do you have any tips or advice on what to avoid / where to find reliable information?
Just do your research! It irks me when people say: 'yeah, but I can't watch it'. I'm like, well then, why endorse it if you can't even bare to watch it?! It makes no sense to me...
God bless Google, I mean, if we can spend hours online shopping for the perfect materialistic item, then you can spend just as much time educating yourself on where it comes from and what it is doing to the environment.
Peta has been a blessing for me. They literally have an answer to any question. Also, using social media to find vegans and vegan brands with a high social media following and connecting with them is good, because they post information on the daily.
So, what’s next for Morgan?
Oh. Good question. I will have to start preparing for the Commonwealth Games as soon as I get home on the 1st of September. Then just take it day by day really, and prepare for the European season after the Games. Exciting times, ha!
And, of course, what are your 3 favourite vegan handbags from Ethical Gallery?
My favourite vegan handbags are:
And, of course, my gifted love-heart bag – still my number one! Every time I stepped out with it in Europe, someone would complement it!
In preparing for next year’s Commonwealth Games, Morgan proves that hard determination and a positive attitude will always get you far.