Olympic Athletes Share Diet and Fitness Secrets
With the London 2012 Olympics around the corner, I sat down with four world class athletes to hear how they balance their fitness and diet regimens.
Question: What is your diet like to maintain your optimal performance level?
I love plants! I like to eat as raw and fresh as possible, staying away from processed and packaged foods. I’m not a full blown vegetarian, but my meals are primarily plant based: whole grains, legumes, vegetables, nuts, etc. I couple that with small amounts of fish or chicken once or twice a day along with fresh fruit and homemade snacks every few hours.
As I’ve matured as an athlete, I’ve come to recognize the benefits of superior nutrition. I feel better, recover more quickly, and know my body is running on better fuel.
I view food as fuel for my training, and try not to go longer than 2 hours without eating to keep my blood sugar stable throughout the day and maximize recovery. I make sure each meal and snack is a combination of carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat. I also try focus on foods that are anti-inflammatory as much as possible, to maximize recovery and my immune system. Sweet potatoes, grass fed beef and almond butter are staples of mine!
Nutrition is a really important part of my life and livelihood. I typically eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day. I never go more than a couple of hours without eating. The key is to not take in too much in any one sitting and then to not go too long without eating.
I like to “carbo load” before my big workouts and races by not adding to the size of my meals, but rather by adding in more meals. Even when I am not “loading” my typical diet is very carb heavy, as I feel that this is the most important nutrient for a runner. My favorite form of carbs are sweet potatoes.
Question: You are training for the Olympics – what is your fitness program?
As far as fitness goes? BMX is an explosive event, typically lasting 35-42 seconds, so our training is primarily based around sprint efforts on and off the track to mimic that intensity and speed as well as some gym work to build power and strength bases.
My training regimen has been a learning process over the years. I’ve become smarter about strength training exercise selection, bike sprint structure and time on the track. BMX is an incredibly dynamic, quick moving sport, so plenty of focus is devoted to repeated bouts of explosive power. I feel much stronger today than I was going into the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
My training usually consists of running 60-80 miles a week, alternating hard days and recovery days. I run my hard days pretty close to as hard as I can go, and they range from sprints to intervals to tempo runs. My easy days I usually run as easy as my body wants to go, and enjoy being out in nature and in the trails.
In training for each marathon that I run I typically begin my preparations 6 months prior to the event. I usually run twice per day 5-6 days a week logging around a 100 miles a week (which is low for an elite marathon runner). My training is all based around the idea of running two really hard workouts per week and then spending the rest of my running at a casual pace so that I can adequately recover from the workout. It’s the rest that makes me strong. I also take one day completely off per week (okay, I do go fly fishing on occasion, but I don’t consider that exercise).
Thank you to Elishia Matta of Oakley for facilitating these interviews.
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