Izzi is an accomplished distance runner who has won honours in Australia and represented her nation internationally.
As a ten-year-old she ran cross country and by 14 Izzi was running on the track.
After college she accepted a US college scholarship for running and went to St. John’s University in New York. She transferred to University of Washington in Seattle for her second year. In 2016 and 2017 she switched to longer distances and competed in 5000m and 10,000m events.
By 2020 she was a leading runner in her country and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics (held in 2021). She represented Australia in the 5,000m at the placing 15th in her heat and 28th overall.
In 2021 she broke the Olympic 5000m standard of 15:10 comfortably, running 15:04.
Izzi has broken South Australian Records in the 3,000m (8:51) and the 5,000m. In the 5,000 she broke it by running 15:26 then re-broke it twice with 15:11 and 15:04.
She was runner up at 2020 Australian National Championship in the 10,000m and in the 2021 in the 5,000m.
Added to these achievements are some great performances representing Australia at the World University Games. She’s run in the 10,000m in 2017 and 2019 placing 6th and 7th respectively. She was also third in the 2019 NCAA Track & Field National Championships in the 10,000m.
She’s also pleased to still hold the University of Washington 5,000m (15:40), and 10,000m (32:20) school records. She is the 2019 PAC12 Conference Champion 10,000m.
In 2022 she competed at the Commonwealth Games and finished 8th in both the 5000m and 10,000 metres (more here).
“I cut out dairy when I was 16 years old and never looked back. I tried to go vegan when I was 17 but it only lasted a week because I was scared out of it by those in the running community who were afraid of how I would be an athlete and be vegan! There weren’t as many resources or role models out there at the time, and the options for vegan food weren’t as good as they are today. When I moved to the US the food quality was not as good as in Australia.
“I did a research project on the meat and dairy industry and after learning more about that I cut out eating fish and eggs and went vegan at the end of 2014. At that point I didn’t care if it affected my running negatively, I knew it was what I wanted to do. However, it turns out it was beneficial for my running! While going full vegan was brought on by ethical and environmental reasons, I am vegan for life because of the health benefits and the way I feel.”
In the time Izzi has been vegan, she has seen attitudes change towards veganism.
“When I first tried to go vegan almost a decade ago when I was 16 years old, people were very were not accepting of it and I was scared out of it! These days there are a lot of athletes, especially runners and endurance athletes who opt for a plant-based diet. I would say now it is quite accepted. People seem to realize that plant-based foods are the ideal source of fuel for a runner.”
While performance has improved, it seems this may be due to a number of factors. However, it seems clear that fears it would hold her back were ill-founded.
“I have also noticed a difference in my health! I used to get the yearly cold or even more frequently, now since being vegan I’ve only been sick once in the last six or seven years! My athletic performance has improved astronomically but that is likely more to do with other factors such as training and years in the sport. I do think that my plant-based diet helps me to recover faster and helps my body continue to perform at its best”.
Eating to win
“A few of my favourite meals to make for brunch are tofu scramble with avocado toast, a big smoothie bowl with frozen banana, berries, almond milk, protein powder, and topped with homemade granola. Favourite dinner meals are lentil bolognese with spaghetti. I make this with onion, garlic, grated zucchini and carrot, passata sauce, lentils, dried and fresh herbs, chilli, s&p and topped with homemade vegan parmesan/nutritional yeast!
“Other favourites are making vegan mac and cheese with a pumpkin based sauce, veggie and chickpea curries or just roast veggies like potatoes and sweet potatoes with baked tofu. Some of my go-to snacks are rice cakes with peanut butter and banana, dates stuffed with tahini and chocolate, fruit and popcorn”.
On race days the fuel is carbs, and Izzi keeps it bland to avoid stomach upsets.
“Lots of carbs like oats, sourdough bread, rice, pasta and fruit, maybe a smoothie, peanut butter that sort of thing. I just cut out the excessive fibre and fruit and vegetables that I would eat on a normal day”.
The fuel seems to do the job!
“My regular weekly schedule is running about 150km per week. It’s broken into two hard sessions (Tuesday intervals and Friday threshold session), two long runs (90 minutes Wednesday and two hours Sunday). The rest is just easy running of 60-70mins per day and 30min double runs on my session days. I usually do gym twice a week or some sort of core/Pilates strength work. As I get towards racing my sessions become more race specific and my weekly volume drops substantially”.
As she continues to grow, Izzi has more plans.
“Not too far down the road is Paris 2024 which I have my eyes on. Another focus of mine now is building my growing coaching business RunAsOne which I founded with my partner Riley last year. We have over 200 runners in our community, and I love helping others enjoy running as much as I do. My studies in psychology have taken the back seat now while I focus on my running career and other pursuits in the next few years.”