How Much Does an Olympian Cross Country Skier Train and What Does He Eat?

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On Friday, the official opening day of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, we featured an interview with Olympic cross-country skier Kris Freeman, a type 1 who is participating in his fourth Olympiad. We thought it would be interesting to delve a little more into Kris’s training regimen, including the foods he eats to fuel the high energy demands of his races.


Nadia: Do you condition year-round?

Kris: Yes, this has been my full time profession now since I was 20 years old. I train full time and take a couple weeks off in April to let any tendonitis or lower back problems heal. Then it’s all systems go on May 1st.

When I’m not traveling to snow camps, there’s a lot of roller skiing, which use the same boots and binding system attached to what looks like a long roller blade and ski poles on the pavement to simulate skiing. A lot of running, biking, and kayaking where I use different cross training methods.

I train about 900 hours a year. What’s ironic is, in the winter, I really don’t train that much because I am always getting ready to race. So the bulk of those hours are shifted into the summer and fall.

Nadia: What do you typically eat when training?

Kris: I view food as fuel. Every meal is planned to prepare me for my next training session or recovery period. If I am actively working out I will eat high glycemic foods. If I am recovering on the couch I eat low-glycemic, high-protein calories. For a typical training day my diet would look like this:

8:00 a.m. breakfast: Two eggs, cottage cheese, cucumber, tomatoes, espresso

9:00 a.m.” Three-hour, 22-mile mountain run, 16 ounces of PowerBar Perform Sports Drink per hour (48 ounces = 90 grams carbs)

12:30 p.m.: Turkey sandwich and vegetables

3:00 p.m.: Espresso

4:00 p.m.: PM power bar (45 grams carb) almonds

4:30 p.m.: One hour double pole roller skiing (20 ounces sports drink = 37 grams carbs)

6:30 p.m.: Steak and vegetables

8:30 p.m.: Non-fat plain Greek yogurt and granola

Nadia: What do you eat when racing?

Kris: On race mornings I eat exactly three hours before my race start. This gives enough time for my bolus insulin to work its way all the way out of my system before the race start. That way I know that only my basal insulin dose is active in my system when I start racing. A typical pre-race breakfast is two eggs, toast, cucumber, and tomatoes. Sometimes I substitute oatmeal for toast.

Nadia: Do you have treats and what is your favorite food vice?

Kris: I do not eat “treats” unless I need quick high-fat, high-glycemic calories for recovery. A dessert is not worth balancing the unnecessary calories with insulin for me. My vice is espresso, which I prefer straight.

Kris Freeman’s racing events calendar starts today:

  • Today, February 9: Skiathlon 30 kilometer
  • Friday, February 14: Classic 15 kilometer
  • Sunday, February 16: Team Relay 4 x 10 kilometer
  • Sunday, February 23: 50 kilometer freestyle

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