The fuel of champions
"Why champions aren’t afraid to buck the trend."
Our favourite sporting heroes are the embodiment of health and vitality – all glowing skin and boundless energy. But how do the rest of us reach our physical and mental optimum without a team of nutritionists on hand? As the official water of England Hockey team and sponsor of the Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 we called timeout with our 2016 British Olympic gold medalists for tips on looking great and feeling ready for action. You’ll be glad to know even the professionals reach for the chocolate every now and again…
The difference between winning and losing
No strangers to a grueling training and travel schedule are field hockey internationals defender Zoe Shipperley, forward Sophie Bray and their captain, goalkeeper Maddie ‘Mad Dog’ Hinch. “A World Cup is like an Olympic Games in terms of preparation,” says Hinch; “it’s the little one percenters that can get you over the line.”
So, what’s behind that one percent? Teammate Zoe believes it’s what goes in that counts. “Nutrition and hydration are massively key for everything we do,” she says. “We weigh in before and after matches, so we know how much fluid we’ve lost and how much we need to replace,” which could be up to two kilos, according to Bray.
Perhaps that’s a bit scientific for the likes of you and me, but not surprisingly the principle of taking your hydration seriously is something we’re thoroughly behind!
Staying hydrated on the go
Speaking of hydration, everyone knows that the key to staying focused is staying hydrated, but even elite athletes need reminders to take a sip, especially when travelling. “You can find you’ve sat there for hours and actually, you’ve not drunk anything out of your bottle,” says captain Maddie Hinch. “Water does make you feel better. There’s definitely a difference – whether that’s the way your skin is feeling or how tired you are,” she concludes. And Bray agrees, “It’s important to maintain hydration to avoid things like cramp” — a margin the squad can’t afford to lose to the other 11 World Cup teams.
Time your food to fuel you
What can we learn from pro athletes when it comes to eating well? The team nutritionist’s advice is refreshingly simply, advising that we should modifying intake according to activity levels. “Your meal size should be a representation of what you’re doing in the next few hours,” says Shipperley. We know it to be true of course; we wouldn’t rely on a salad to fuel us before running a marathon. We’re encouraged too by the notion that the players have cheat days. “We’re human,” Shipperley continues. “My favourite indulgence food is 100% chocolate.”
How can we put it into action?
With only a few months to go to the World Cup in London, we asked the England Women’s Hockey team to share with us their top five shortcuts to feeling fantastic whether at home, on the go, or on the field:
1. When you’re travelling, plan in advance with easy snacks and water. Refuel every two hours — even if it’s just nuts or a piece of fruit.
2. When you’re fatigued you might not feel like taking on water but you have to, little by little. Set yourself reminders in your phone.
3. On a flight, carry an empty bottle and ask the cabin crew to keep filling it up.
4. Reward yourself for staying on your game. It’ll make changing your behaviour easier.
5. Wash negativity from your life. If you feel good and you’ll play well and exude confidence – whatever your game!
Good luck girls, we’ll be cheering you on in London!
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