What’s it like to eat, train and think like an Olympian? I wondered the same myself. When Winners gave me some chat time with 400-m hurdler Sarah Wells, who just launched her own fitness line called Believe at the chain, I had to find out exactly what she does to be so positive, so energetic and so fit.
As someone who works out between four and six days a week, I would say I’m fit. But obviously not at Sarah’s level. But could I do it? Could I eat how she eats? Could I train how she trains? Could I get that competitive edge? (That’s something I admittedly don’t have much of right now.) In my 10-minute interview, I found out what her visualization techniques, six-hour workout and her diet are really like.
Sarah meditates in a quiet spot, not necessarily in the dark. She sits, closes her eyes and visualizes her race. “I use checkpoints to put my mind in competition,” she tells me of her method. “I start the watch and visualize my race. I visualize how I feel, coming off the hurdle, running into the hurdle.” She also repeats a word in her head to keep her focus. “This word helps me not let my momentum give in to fatigue.”
Drive! – at the starting line
Attack! – in the middle of the race
Take off! – at the finish line
I need visualization much earlier than I anticipated. I woke up at 3 a.m. riddled with anxiety. All I could picture at the end of the day – or worse, somewhere in the middle – was me cramped up, bowled over and embarrassing myself for even trying to do this “A Day in the Life of an Olympian” challenge. Since I need the sleep to accomplish doing so much physically in a day, I picture myself in the last hour: calm, healthy and proud. I got through the next day’s list in my head, breaking it down into hour-long parts, and somehow I lull myself back to sleep. I’d say that was a success.
It’s wrong to call how Sarah Wells eats, a diet. It’s a food plan. She’s constantly nourishing her body with easily digestible nutrients that provide her with a load of energy – 2,500 calories or more actually. And she’s always drinking water with lemon and lime to make it more alkaline (a theory that ph-balanced food and drink can reduce inflammation in the body).
Here’s the breakdown:
Breakfast (She eats right away, since she’s starving when she wakes up)
Protein pancakes made with a banana, two eggs, 2 tsp oat flour, chia seeds, coconut oil, blueberries or chocolate chips
Vitamins: omega fats, calcium, vitamins K2 and D3 and a multivitamin to help her body run efficiently and recover faster.
I was so nauseous from waking up at 5 a.m. to workout that I skipped breakfast. I head to the gym for 6 a.m. I come home and eat breakfast instead. I skip the smoothie, as the pancakes were enough. Seriously.
A healthy banana bread muffin and water
I skip this. I’m still full from the pancakes.
Protein shake with a piece of fruit
I have a protein bar and strawberries waiting for me. I skip this too. How many calories were in those pancakes?!
Sandwich with chicken, pesto, apple, cheese, lettuce, spinach, with a side of fruit or side veggies
This, I force myself to eat. But after already working out for two hours, I’m surprisingly not hungry. But I do it.
Hummus with veggies or corn chips
At the point I’m about to have this, I suddenly get struck with an intense hunger, and veggies and dip won’t cut it. Instead, I go for a protein bar and a half pint of strawberries, which I was supposed to have earlier. Protein bars always seemed too heavy, but this hits the spot. An hour later, and I’m ravenous again. So I have a grain bar, which I was going to have instead of the banana muffin – props to Sarah for having those homemade! She’s a better woman than me.
Chicken with rice and broccoli
Bowl of granola
It’s late by the time I have dinner, so I enjoy the granola as a kind of dessert. And I was hungry for it.
“I train five to six hours a day,” Sarah tells me. “Often, they are all in a row.” She continues, listing how her hourly segments are organized: warm-up, reaction time, hurdles, interval drills (running 55 seconds), pyramids, strength and core (functional training for small muscles), in the weight room (three times a week), and a cool down.
Since I’ve never done hurdling, doing six hours of it wouldn’t make sense for me. I’d barely be able to break 30 minutes of this sport, let alone six hours. I need to do something I already do, such as fitness classes. I’ve done three in one day before, so this seems more achievable yet an immense challenge. So I did a bunch of classes, and a bit of other stuff, with lots of breaks in between, from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. There’s no way I could do it back-to-back like Sarah. At Goodlife in Hamilton, I did these classes: BodyPump weightlifting, CXWorx mat work, Newbody step class, and a yoga class (that one finished off my day. I also did Pilates at Evolve Pilates, and a strength-cardio circuit at with trainer Paula Sinclair. To make up for some time, I also ran along the Hamilton pier.
So while I didn’t die, I did find something inside me that I hadn’t seen in a long time. I got that feeling back from when I was a kid. You know the one. The one where you’re outside riding bikes, running like mad playing tag, avoiding mom and dad’s calls for dinner. It was this feeling of exhaustion and excitement. Part of it was pride, because, well, damn, I did this! And the other part was a lot of fun. I’d totally do this again. Sign me up for the everyday Olympics! #glowXolympics