Interview | Malene Degn

 

Mountain biker Malene Degn always knew she would compete professionally in a sport which has been her passion since she was 9 years old. Now 21 and competing for Ghost Factory Racing, we had a few moments to chat to the popular athlete about how she fuels herself as an elite mountain biker…

Malene, thank you for taking the time to chat with us; the night before you compete, what do you tend to go for? “Primarily carbs, such as rice, pasta or bread. My competitions consist of one hour & thirty minutes at full-gas mountain bike riding, which means I have to use every part of my body, my muscles in this time, to get as fast as possible from the start to the finish line. The fastest way for my body to do this, is if my storage of glycogen is full, so that’s why I make sure I have a good meal of carbs the night before a race.”

If you eat a big plate of carbs the night before, what sort of foods are you having the morning of a race, if you eat at all? “I eat between three and two & a half hours before my race starts and I don’t care too much about what I eat; I just eat what I feel like and whatever is available at the hotel’s breakfast buffet. I normally go for some yogurt, oats or bread, some water and a coffee.”

So what are you have post-race, after 90 minutes of hard mountain biking, can you have whatever you want? “When my race season starts, it’s a pretty packed calendar, which means I have a race almost every weekend, so my post-race meal is important because I need to fuel up in order to be ready for the coming week. My go-to meals are: a protein shake, some actual food and sometimes a beer!”

A number of athletes have spoken about how a lot of people tend to overlook the amount of water they drink when they train; how important is hydration to an athlete at your level? “Super important; I’m a person who looses quite a lot of water when I train (aka, I’m sweaty as!”), so I’m aware of my hydration levels on an everyday basis. I perform better on the bike when I’m hydrated, my skin is happier and my digestion is better; it’s a win-win situation.”

A lot of athletes have spoken about the important of sleep to their recovery; do you find the same? “For sure - sleep is the body’s moment to grow and get stronger, I make sure I get 8-10 hours of sleep a night.”

Going back to your nutrition, what are the meals or recipes you rely on the most at home? “I love veggies in the oven, pasta & some sort of meat on the side, easy, fueling, and gooooood!”

What is your cheat meal? “This question is hard because I don’t really know… I don’t have a particular ‘cheat meal’, I eat all sorts of different unhealthy things; if we have Nutella in the house I eat it, or if the local bakery has made some new muffins, I’ll have one of them too.”

You mentioned that you have a protein shake post-race; what are your thoughts on protein shakes, bars and gels as a pro athlete? “I use protein shakes a lot, when I come through the door after training the first thing I do is shake up some protein with some milk, then I can have a shower and make a proper lunch or dinner. I use gels mostly when I race, but also in hard interval sessions I like to have a gel just after that last interval (to fuel up my glycogen storage!)”

Is there anything you actively avoid as an athlete, either because you are allergic, or its unhealthy or you just don’t like it? “I try to make my own food, I go out for dinner with my boyfriend but you never really know what they do with the food at the restaurant so I try to avoid it. Besides that, I am pretty chill when it comes to food and drinks.”

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