Paradise Valley – the home of Altis – is no stranger to being hailed as a sought after location for the elite athlete. Speed and power athletes have long been flocking to Phoenix, making the most of the year-round blue skies which make training at the Altis so inviting. The distance running community is now following hot on the heels of this migration to the Arizona sun – capitalizing on the same environment which makes for such a conducive training location.
Now with the recent appointment of Ricky Soos as Lead Endurance Coach – we are excited to announce that British 1500m runner – Lisa Dobriskey will be making the full time move to Phoenix. We sat down with the Loughborough University Graduate to find out what it is about Altis that makes it such an enticing proposition for distance runners.
Lisa – we’re delighted to be welcoming you to Altis. For those people who don’t know your background, could you start by summarizing the highlights of your career to date?
Highlights in my career to date have included winning the Silver medal at the World Championships in Berlin in 2009, reaching two Olympic Finals, and winning the Commonwealth Games.
A great set of accomplishments Lisa! So moving forwards, what are your aims for the next couple of years?
I’ve had some difficult injury and illness issues over the couple of years, so now I am hoping that I can get a full winter of training in and back to my best for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
So how did you first hear about Altis, and what was the reason for basing yourself here for a 6 month camp here this past winter?
I had worked with Dan Pfaff very briefly in 2011, and my husband Ricky, and I know Steve Lewis well. I also work with 5or6 (the Altis website and branding consultants) so we have a lot of connections to Altis. Last year I met with Dan whilst he was over in the UK, and he helped me with some treatment and advice. I was at a point in my career where I was really struggling, so I decided to spend the winter in Phoenix working with Dan and the rest of the team. Having access to the coaches and therapists at the Altis felt like a bit of a lifeline.
What were your first impressions?
I was overwhelmed by how friendly everyone was and how willing the coaches and athletes were to help. To top this off, the training environment is incredible.
“I was overwhelmed by how friendly everyone was and how willing the coaches and athletes were to help”
Tell us more – what is it about the environment here which makes it so special?
There is just such a willingness to help … I felt like part of a team instantly. I lost my funding in 2013 and felt as though everybody had given up on me. It was incredibly difficult to suddenly feel like an outsider – so to me, one of the best things about Altis is the team dynamic – everyone is so positive and there are no egos. I was made to feel immediately welcome, and part of something special.
So what made you decide to make the move to Phoenix permanently?
For the first time in a while I fell in love with running again! I hadn’t felt like that for a long time. I 100% believe that being at Altis gives me my best chance of getting back to my best.
From a distance runner’s perspective, what specifically is so good about the location in Phoenix?
There are so many beautiful places to run. Lots of trails and parks which give a great variety day to day. I love training in the sunshine and I find the heat a great training stimulus, and found being in a warm environment meant my body always felt ready to train. On top of that, we are also only 1h 45 minutes from Flagstaff’s altitude – which is a great option to have so close to our main training base.
How have the support services helped you?
The therapy team at Altis are amazing. I have had access to chiropractors, soft tissue therapists and acupuncture. The performance therapy trackside was a relatively new approach for me; I’d spent the best part of 10 years being very much “physio dependent” so when my physio left back home I really struggled. I found since being here the ART work, ELDOA stretches, various band stretches, and evening stretching routines allowed me to become far more manageable as an athlete. The sheer volume of knowledge around performance therapy was outstanding. Having access to recovery pools were a great help post flight too.
Lisa, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us – it’s fantastic to hear how positively everything is moving for you. We wish you the very best with your move and are delighted to be welcoming you to the Altis family!
Interested in joining Lisa in Phoenix? We are currently accepting applications to join our middle and long distance group. Apply here.