Ellie Hartnett got her 2023 season off to a flying start with a medal in the Irish Indoor Championships 1,500m followed by win over 800m at an NIA Live event.

The middle distance star has been featured before by Fast Running: this time spoke to Lee Maginnis about achievements, targets, her love of the sport and how she keeps coming back for more.

With 2017 seeing Hartnett’s first senior medal in 2017, in her favourite event, we asked what the athlete herself views as her best ever performance? “It has to be the 1500m silver at the Indoor Champs in 2019”. The 4:19.05 runner is talking about the Irish indoor national champs where she was only beaten by Amy O’Donoghue by a small margin.

What do you put your success and longevity down to?

“I have a willingness to work hard and to trust in the people in my corner,” first highlighting the importance of coach Jame Nolan. “In terms of longevity I think you have to enjoy it . It’s not all doom, gloom and hard work; you have to enjoy what you do. I’m generally a positive person and I think being able to bounce back from losses or failures is one of my strengths.

What are your ambitions and targets for outdoors?

The main goal seems to be a “3K PB as I haven’t had a chance to race one properly since 2018.” Hopefully, given how far Hartnett has come in the previous few years in terms of experience it is highly probable we see a new PB for the nearly two mile distance on the track.

“I’d also like a 1,500m PB and to medal at outdoors at that distance. For the 800m, just to play around with it and have fun!” The 800 clearly brings physical and psychological bonuses to an athlete focusing on 1500 and 3000, as well as demonstrating an improvement in the raw speed needed to medal and compete over the longer distances on the track.

“I want to just stay injury free too” concludes Hartnett. Often the key ingredient to a season of PBs we find.

So what are those current PBs?

1,500m 4:19.05, 800m 2:05.03. 3K 9:35, 5K 16:43

What are your favourite training sessions?

A bit of a classic with a “Split 1,500m: 400m, 400m, 400m, 300m X 2 or (3X500m) X 2.” It’s clear the Irish star likes to work hard and when asked if the preference was solo or group training the answer was unequivocal…

“Group! Any day! It’s so much more enjoyable and makes it much more fun”.

Was your career choice influenced by your athletics?

“Yes I think the world of athletics definitely opened my eyes up to sports physiotherapy. I got injured myself in 6th Year and got to work with a brilliant physio who was able to rehab me back to fitness and it was there that I got the idea that it was something I might enjoy.”

As a physiotherapist an understanding of sport in general can be key, especially the mindset of an athlete when rehabbing or preparing to run a race or play their next match. “I watch other sports: rugby, GAA and would have played Basketball in school. I love dancing too, and did Ballet and Modern up until I was about 16.”

Going forward in running and life

When asked why she stayed at UCD after graduation Hartnett told us that “my coach James Nolan was the head coach there at the time. UCD AC and UCD Sport have been so good to me over the years in terms of support ; strength and conditioning, coaching, facilities and the team dynamic. And I wanted to give something back.”

It is obvious still that Hartnett is as much in love with the sport now, as when she began. Possibly even more so.

“I probably have a greater appreciation for athletics now. It has given me so much: the opportunity to travel, to meet people, to make friends and it influenced my career in many ways.

It has definitely helped shape my character and athletics teaches you a lot of great lessons and resilience. So I think in some capacity, I will always be a runner.”