How the WNBA’s Alana Beard Beat the Odds to Make the Rebound of Her Life
When the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks Guard Alana Beard tore her posterior tibial tendon (PTT) in 2010, the doctors told her she would never play basketball again. “It was an intense moment, everyone believed the doctors and my team gave up on me.” So she decided to prove them all wrong. “My mind immediately went into recovery mode,” Alana said. Her intense rehabilitation involved six to eight hours a day of work, including exercises in the bathtub—where she would hop to get in and start her rehab by just by moving her foot in the water—and out of it. Strength training was a big part of her rehabilitation, focusing on her upper body and also her mind. It took her two years to come back, but did she ever. In both 2017 and 2018, Alana was named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year. She’s on her way back to L.A. to play in the 2019 WNBA season.
Alana Beard on What it Takes to Be Great
Alana is used to working hard and said that it’s a rare athlete that doesn’t train to become excellent. “Being an athlete doesn’t come naturally. It’s nearly impossible to go from being an “average Joe” to the best in your field without working,” Alana said. “Being great happens because they’ve put in the work. It’s the consistency and constancy of just working, and I’ve always been a worker.”
She started training in high school, but it wasn’t until she arrived at Duke University to play basketball did she “start pumping weights hard,” she said. That’s where she learned Olympic lifting, including dumbbell pressing, pull-ups, kettle bells, hang cleans, and other heavy weight exercises. “We were doing it for explosiveness,” Alana said. She said that building muscle mass in college really helped her. “I was really good in college.”
That’s a rare admission from Alana who is modest about her achievements. What does it feel like to be an incredible athlete? “I don’t know if I ever realized I was an incredible athlete, you do what you love. I was fortunate to have a family to help me build a foundation. When you think you’re that good, that’s when you stop being your best.”
Alana Beard’s Strength Training Routine Now
Now, she focuses on functional training, a combination of strength training with movement. She still lifts weights, but more low weights with higher repetitions to maintain her musculature. “I find the type of maintaining and training I do gives me the confidence I need in my body, the strength, stability and control of my body,” said Alana. She also has “issues with flexibility with my hips” and so functional training and stretching where she adds certain movements to it, benefits her. She is also into yoga and Pilates now. “Yoga works on the mental aspect for my game and every day living.” TRX is another important part of her workout.
Alana also plans to continue her training even if she no longer has to for professional reasons. “I refuse to be an athlete that gives up everything I’ve done for the past 30 years. I believe in being healthy and I want to be able to live as long as I possibly can. One way to do that is through nutrition and consistently working out. Maybe not the same intensity but it’s extremely important to me as well as to my family.”
Alana Beard Advice for Non-Professional Athletes
So what advice does Alana have for the rest of us who also want to live a long healthy life, but are maybe not a top player on the professional basketball court? She too, has a circle of friends who “have never touched a basketball in their lives,” are married, have kids and are super busy. She recommends just figuring out a routine and sticking to it. It’s easier for athletes, she admits, since it is their profession to train. But the sooner you create that habit, the easier it will become, she said, stressing that all you need is 20 to 30 minutes. She suggests Tabata training (High Intensity Interval Training) as the most efficient way to train, just eight minutes a day. “When you shock your body with a quick pace your body reacts.” She also suggests setting up TRX and doing three rounds of three exercises, 20 seconds on then 20 seconds off as a solid workout in the mornings.
Alana Beard Likes a Low-Carb Diet
Thirty pounds lighter than she was at Duke, Alana has fine-tuned her diet to enhance her performance. Other than milk in her coffee, she stays away from dairy. She eats in moderation and skips all sweets (except the sugar in the milk). She cooks every day and eats 85 to 90 percent of her meals at home. Her “game day meal” usually contains a combination of avocado, salmon, beets, mushrooms, onions and two eggs. “My high protein meal becomes my go-to.” Occasionally at a friend’s house or in a restaurant she will have “a spoon or two of rice.”
What Motivates Alana Beard
Alana Beard is inspiring others to be their best as well. She is involved in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) a grass roots program where she got her own start playing basketball. At one point she sponsored six teams, four in Maryland and two in Shreveport, Louisiana where she grew up. She relishes the opportunity to speak to younger women and men, to share her journey so they can feel empowered to embark on their own. “As much as athletes don’t like to be called role models, when I’m on the court I always keep in mind I’m an example for someone.”
What inspires Alana is her own family, she said. “Whether on or off the court, I have a responsibility to my family because of everything they’ve done for me to get to this point.” And she adds, “I’m blessed to be able to get paid to do what I absolutely love.”