Christmas with Alex Danson MBE

With the busy festive period approaching, what are your top tips during the indulgent season?

"With it being such a hectic and sometimes stressful time, I think it’s just about maximising the little time you do have to get a quick run or workout in to make yourself feel better. Even if it’s a brisk run out on the pavements or squeezing in some bodyweight exercises from the comfort of your own home, it’s great to release those feel-good endorphins and keep your fitness ticking over".

What is your typical training regime during Christmas?

"We have a training schedule that allows us to head home and spend the festive period with our family. We have a two-week program which involves running, lifting and sprinting. Our sessions usually last about 40 minutes to an hour and we complete one or sometimes two each day. A typical running session may be 3 minutes on 3 minutes off x 6. You complete as big a distance as possible in each 3 minute effort".

How do you relax and unwind at Christmas yourself?

"I’m lucky to live in a beautiful part of Britain in Berkshire and I’m spoilt for choice in terms of nice walking and cycling routes which I like to explore. I also love spending time with family as with me travelling so much and away on long training camps, it’s important to treasure those moments. I have two incredible nephews that I love to spend time with, so I use the opportunity over Christmas to get as much time with them and family as possible".

Recent research by Meridian found that breakfast has become rushed and boring for many people in the UK. As an athlete, how important is breakfast for you?

"Breakfast is without question the most important meal of the day, not only does it kick start your metabolism but it sets you up with enough energy to hit your day feeling ready and full of energy. I would say if you are getting bored of breakfast think of ways to add some excitement to your normal choice. I always have porridge but I’ll always top it with something different. I can highly recommend the cocoa and peanut butter Meridian spread and I always add flaxseed and fruit".

What do you normally eat for breakfast on Christmas morning?

"I usually start my day with a bowl of porridge oats and some Meridian Cocoa & Peanut butter stirred in. As well as being quick and easy to make plus satisfies my sweet tooth, it gives me the essential extra protein I need for the day ahead.

This is no different on Christmas Day and we all eat a similar breakfast as we all head off to do some training after! My sister is a triathlete and its now tradition that while we train, mum and dad either join us on their bikes or head out for a walk. The main difference is we’re normally all donning a Santa hat!"

2018 will be a busy year for you with both the Commonwealth Games and the Hockey World Cup, how much are you looking forward to it as captain?

"Very much so! The success at the 2016 Rio Olympics showed what we’re capable of as a team and I’m proud and honoured to now be captain. Leading the team out at a home World Cup, if selected, will be an incredible honour and we hope we can put on a show for the thousands and thousands of people that have bought tickets".

With so many games to be played, how do you make sure you get the right amount of rest and relaxation to fight fatigue?

"Major competitions are what we live for as athletes and it’s vital that we’re able to perform to the height of our abilities. Nutrition is one of the key ways to ensure you’re able to sustain your performance levels as it helps your body recover and provides you with the energy you need. Aside from that, getting a good night’s sleep! Despite the natural adrenaline that comes with training and playing at a major tournament, the importance of getting some early nights and giving your body the rest it needs can’t be underestimated".

What is your favourite Christmas song?

"Easy… Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You, I’m listening to it now!"

What do you want to achieve in 2018?

"Lots of success! It’s fantastic that hockey’s profile has soared so much since the Olympic Games and we want to capitalise on that momentum. The fact that over 100,000 people applied for the ticket ballot for the Hockey World Cup is absolutely amazing and I most of all I want to do my teammates, friends and family proud as we put everything into trying to create history once again".

Alex Danson MBE is a sporting ambassador for Meridian Foods, the UK’s leading producer of nut butters. To find out more, visit www.meridianfoods.co.uk