Interview | Eleanor Faulkner

Ellie Faulkner has been an elite athlete for a number of years, and has already got two Olympics and two Commonwealth Games already under her belt (picking up 4 x medals at the Commonwealth Games...

Establishing herself as one to watch as a 19yr old at the 2012 London Olympics, Ellie has been a permanent fixture in Team GB ever since. We managed to get a few moment with Ellie to talk about her diet and nutrition as a double Olympian...

Ahead of a race, what sorts of food/snacks are you having & when (do you have to give it a couple of hours before you get into the pool)?

"Ahead of a race, I tend to eat a normal breakfast of cereal or porridge and some toast. I try to eat approximately 3 hours before racing just because of personal preference. As for snacking, I do this more so within the 3 hours before to keep the flow of everything going. This might be on bananas, dried fruit, fruit bars (nakd) or nuts". 

Do you have to carbo-load, or similar in the build up to a race meet?

"I personally don’t carb load, I see it as sort of a myth unless you doing a marathon swim. Some times in the past I did this when swimming a 10k but now I predominantly swim in the shorter distance events 100, 200, 400 so I don’t need to". 

What do you eat after competing? 

"After competing, immediately after my race I might have a banana or another fruit bar as a form of immediate recovery. But by the time we finish the heats and head back to a hotel or home it tends to be lunch time so then eat lunch".

Does your diet change much between off & on-season?

"I mean, nutritionist really don’t advise it to change considerably. But personally I try to let go a little. I will enjoy a few of the luxury’s that you wouldn’t normally eat when in season just so then you don’t starve yourself of them otherwise your cravings of them will be unbearable!"

Did you diet/nutrition have to change when you switched from the 800m to the 200m race?

"Yeah, I mean any races above the 400 your training is much more intense, you're racking the mileage in the pool day in day out and your body needs to have enough food stores to be able to do the sessions well and to the best of your ability! So my diet is considerably different. Mainly in the carbohydrate intake throughout the day and a general eating more". 

What are your thoughts on protein bars & shakes?

"Well.....protein bars and shakes. Some of the protein bars taste good but I just prefer to get my protein from food sources than eating a bar. There are plenty of foods that contain protein so there isn’t really a need for them. As for shakes, again personal preference but I had some stomach issues a while back with them so just decided they weren’t necessary and to find the protein in other foods and snacks".

Do you eat much at the gym/after the gym?

"I tend to snack on a source of protein after all exercise has finished to help recovery. And my gym tends to be after my swim sessions". 

What does a swimmers gym session look like for you (lots of weights, or cardio, or a mix)?

"A swimmers gym sessions is different to the body type of person or the event the person is swimming. For myself personally I don’t really do lots of weights and I wouldn't know what to do if I tried. My body type allows me to build muscles very quickly and easily so I tend to stay away from he big heavy stuff. My gym programme is made of circuits of legs and core body weight and movements that will help when in the pool". 

What is your cheat meal?

"My cheat meal tends to be on a weekend, normally a Saturday unless racing! I enjoy a nice Indian curry.....but I’m not a huge spice fan!"

What meal(s) do rely on the most at home? 

"I wouldn’t say I rely on meals but I tend to cook similar foods most of the time it tends to be easier when I come in so late from training. A few of my weekly meals are steak and sweet potato, chicken and prawn stir fry and spaghetti bolognaise". 

Do you have a favourite recipe?

"I do indeed.. the sauce I use for my chicken and prawn stringy is home made and I love making it......it’s a secret though I can’t tell you!"

Is there anything you actively avoid?

"I tend to avoid fatty food and fast food!"

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How important is hydration at your level?

"Hydration is key at this level. It makes a difference being only slightly dehydrated. Even in training. If your slightly dehydrated the best training isn’t going to happen so it is key we are sufficiently hydrated but not over hydrated!"

You've been an elite athlete for a number of years now, has you diet changed or developed in this time?

"So my diet has changed over the years yeah! When I was younger I found I could eat anything I wanted as when your younger your body is deciding what it does with the food we eat and how it uses our energy stores. As I have got older, you realise you have to look into the food your eating and make sacrifices where necessary especially on the fatty food and sweet treats in order to get the best recovery for the next training session. Hence why on off season the indulgences I get to take advantage of....but not too much!"

Do you have any pre-race rituals?

"I tend to do some silly back twist which cracks my back before I race. I also tend to wipe my face and then stare down the lane!"

Do you have a favourite place to compete in?

"The best place I have ever competed in was the London 2012 Aquatics Centre. There is nothing that can beat the feeling when you walk out in your home country at an Olympic Games and the thousands of people are chanting GB and knowing you have all those people behind you!"

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