We spoke to British Olympic athlete Christine Ohuruogu about her nutrition, exercise, running kit and her career as a British sprinter.
What do you eat before training or a race to get you through it?
I always eat really light whether it’s a race or training. If it’s in the morning, i’ll have a yoghurt and sprinkle some nuts on top or scrambled eggs, and if it’s in the evening, i’ll have a salad with fish.
What are your best recovery foods?
I have a protein & carb blend shake immediately after training with some fruit like tangerines. I always carry snacks on me so I don’t ever get too hungry; nuts are great for this as you feel full on just a few. Stay away from the salty nuts though, they are not as good for you.
What’s your opinion on the state of nutrition advice available to women?
Thankfully there is a lot of information availabe, the danger is feeling bamboozled due to information overload. My advice is stick to the basics, monitor your progress, then tweak as needed.when people introduce drastic changes, whether it’s diet or an exercise regime, they quickly find it’s very difficult to maintain and they give up.
What motivated you to get into sports, and then to specialise in 400m?
I have an affinity for athletics and that is a great motivator. That and passion has seen me through. As for specialising in 400m running; that came about one night at club training when we were picking a team for the following weekend’s competition, and nobody wanted to run the 400m, so I volunteered and very quickly became the resident 400m runner. It turns out, I was pretty good at it.
Where did you train, and can you recommend any good coaches, teams or tracks to train at in or around London and the UK?
I always trained at Mile End in east London, because it’s convenient to home. It’s great because as well as the track, there is a lovely surrounding park area and the canal close by, which are all great for running. I’ve also trained lots at the Terrence McMillan stadium in Newham, which has one of the best running surfaces in the world; Mondo. We are very fortunate in London, because there are lots of running tracks; they are good quality tracks and are well maintained.
For good coaches or teams, I would find your local running club and ask for advice. Ask the athletes at the club to direct you. Most coaches affiliated with running clubs have personal experience or had some form of training to lead a training group.
Are you ever too young or too old to start athletics?
No, you’re never too old or too young to start athletics! Begin with deciding what you want to achieve in athletics; if it’s to become a world record breakers at the elite level, then starting young is encouraged. However, if you are already too late to start young, starting at any age doesn’t matter.there are competitions for all ages up to masters. I have friends who have retired from elite level and have continued to compete. I am encouraged by those people when I see them doing very well.
Your training must be pretty varied. Is there a typical week for you?
My training is very varied and it’s shaped by the time of year it is; for example winter to summer is about quantity and volume to build a good base. This time of year, as we edge closer to competition season, we work on quality. My week is very regimented and structured, with input from coaches, physios, and strength and conditioning coaches which has all been planned in advance.
How do you manage the mental pressure of competing?
I am really looking forward to the World Championships in Beijing this year. It’s a nice feeling to defend a title, as it shows I’ve already done it once and that’s excting. Regarding managing the mental pressure; I have programmed my mind and body to always train like I’m number two, and that drives me to work harder to become number one.
What complementary sports would you recommend?
Yoga is great, it helps with relaxation and recovery. Bringing the body back down to neutral, which the importance of is sometimes understated. Swimming or aqua jogging is also a good complementary sport as there is no impact on the body, it encourages good blood circulation and you can increase or decrease the intensity and still not work your muscles too hard.
Sportswear for women has definitely become more fashion-forward. Are you glad this is the case?
I am very glad. I love going to the gym and seeing women take pride in their gym gear. Women can look good going about their daily business or on a night out, and why shouldn’t they look stunning in the gym too. Be bright and be seen. Every day I go to training I sport a different pair of bright or bold or funky adidas leggings. The pair I’m wearing right now have dots and strips and zig zags all over them and I just love them.
What are your favourite pieces to wear at the weekends?
I’m currently loving my new adidas Ultra Boost shoes; they are super comfy and great for the gym and cross training. When I’m working up a sweat on the track in my funky design adidas tights, I’m grateful for the cooling effect of the adidas climachill t-shirt. During the weekends i’ll wear my grey adidas Superstar Up shoes, which work great with jeans or leggings or for added colour, i’ll wear my dust pink adidas Up shoes.
Do you train to music and if so, what’s on your playlist?
Due to technical issues I’ve had the same shuffle playlist for a very long time! It’s full of upbeat music including funky house, and songs like Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia. Music that makes you feel like you can run through walls basically.