It’s been a totally different year for everyone in many ways. In terms of sports, I can say that it is the most irregular year of my life. However, we have already started the ‘back to school’ , with the aim of getting my fifth medal in the next Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games. We started in this way the season that we could call ‘Heading to Tokyo’, by Saúl Craviotto.
What is the life of an Olympian like?
The routine of the entire season is quite similar, sharing it with the rest of the teammates on the national canoeing team. I spend at least six hours of training a day divided into two sessions in the morning and one in the afternoon, from Monday to Saturday.
We only rest on Sundays and some afternoons during the week. The rest of the time I dedicate practically to my other passion: my family , who are another fundamental pillar in my life.
Besides this, I have to juggle things to dedicate time to other obligations, among which are mainly my work as a National Police officer, where I am currently in a group called Participación Ciudadana (Citizen’s participation), as well as the rest of my duties to sponsors and related parties.
Three pillars for success
Based on these pillars, I will try to explain what a typical day in my life is like now that I have started to get ready for towards Tokyo 2021.
Physical preparation of the body
Training is what takes up most of my day.
The national canoeing team train is in Trasona, a reservoir in Asturias where we have our sports training centre with everything we need to prepare for our competitions.
The calendar and training days are set by our coach, Miguel García, and I have been working with him since 2001, so he knows me as if he had given birth to me.
How many hours does an Olympic champion train?
Basically, our training is divided into three weeks a month of loading and one unloading (training of less intensity, but still, we train the same). In this sense, depending on the period in which we are facing the competition the intensity and specific tasks will vary.
In my sport, contact with water is very important and thinking about the next Olympics I will compete in K4 (canoe made up of 4 participants ), meaning that teamwork is essential. For this reason, of the three daily sessions at least two are in the canoe , where we work on coordination, speed, endurance, outings and all kinds of techniques and training to improve our performance as a team.
Keep in mind that in this discipline we have to make 160 strokes per minute and they must be perfectly coordinated and marked.
The rest of the day is dedicated to the gym . Strangely enough, in canoeing we do not only work arms and back, but also gluteal legs, abs, pectorals ; through strength sessions, hypertrophy, core training …
What does a professional athlete eat to achieve success?
If for an athlete the training part is fundamental in the physical section, other of the fundamental pillars for their body cannot be neglected: nutrition and hydration, which are the fuel that drives that engine; and rest.
Fortunately, I have plenty in this regard, since I have the support of my wife: Celia , who is a nutritionist and makes sure that my diet is the most balanced and adapted in every moment. Also, I have the HSN support, which provides me with all the nutrients and supplements necessary for every moment and need.
Type of diet
In general, my daily routine consists of 5 meals:
- Substantial breakfast .
- Lunch during training days in the morning.
- Main meal which is usually at the Sports Technification Center.
- Snack when I get home after training.
- Light dinner.
My diet also depends on when I am or the exercises that I have done that day. For example, when I do deep exercise I increase the amount of carbohydrates ,whereas if exercises are more than strength or explosiveness , I need to fill the body with foods rich in protein.
Always looking for balance and eating varied and a bit of everything (pasta, rice, vegetables, vegetables, meat, fish, fruit, legumes, etc.).
In addition, I have the perfect complement in terms of supplementation with HSN , since I find all the products so that nothing is missing in my daily routine.
I regularly use Evowhey 2.0 from SportSeries, which has a lot of flavours, among which I love Latte Coffee and Caramelised Cookie.
Supplements for elite athletes
I also use supplementation to make up for deficiencies that I have at certain times.
Approximately every month I undergo medical controls and tests and the HSN multivitamins are of great help to me, for example, if in some moment I have a lack of iron in my body.
I also tend to use creatine before competitions or at times when strength work is high, or caffeine before moments of high intensity or competitions, as it keeps you active and more concentrated.
I have always taken good care of my diet, although without becoming obsessed, and I even indulge in some treats from time to time.
I love eating! I also live in one of the places in the world where you can eat the most delicious food: Asturias, so it is impossible to resist good meat, local stews, cheeses… and I have a weakness for sweets! But I always use it as a “reward” after a hard week of training, or at specific moments, being aware of the stage at which I am and that afterwards, excesses will have to be sweated out! 😉
How many hours should an Olympian sleep?
Regarding rest, I believe that it is not given the attention it deserves and is just as important as training to make sure you rest and recover it is best to sleep, since during sleep the muscle enters a relaxation phase that facilitates cell regeneration.
It is said that you have to sleep at least 8 hours a day, although I usually need to sleep 9 hours. Also, I try, depending on how tired I am, to take a short nap at noon of no more than 30 minutes.
Mental preparation of an athlete
Every day I attach great importance to mental preparation, because strength is not just a matter of biceps.
It is key to divide goals, manage pressure, enjoy the journey, not obsess and believe in yourself. It is something for which a specific period of time is not dedicated per day, but I do try to always keep it in mind since each day one learns more.
There are constantly more athletes who work with a psychologist. I’ve never done it, although I totally believe in its role. In my case, age and mistakes have helped me the most in this regard.
How to manage pressure in professional sports?
Everything is concentrated there, you cannot fail, or have a bad day or make the slightest mistake. Therefore, the mental factor that supports this pressure is very important and, in most cases, the one that differentiates failure from success.
But this emotional variable is what makes us human, without it we would be like robots and competition would have no meaning, and probably neither would life.
Motivation from day to day
For this reason, when starting any challenge, it is important to find motivation and have a clear idea of it, since it will be what gives us the mental strength to achieve the objectives.
It will be experience and trial – error that will help us manage obstacles. But it is important to have that motivation, that inner flame that makes us wake up every day with energy and enthusiasm.
The important role of the family for an athlete
I believe that it is no less important than the body and the mind, since if you build a success forgetting and ignoring your close relationships, you end up being a failure, since sporting successes last for a while, but in the end when the lights go out you’re left alone.
Also. What good are successes if you can’t share them with the people you love and who love you?
At 15 years old I had to leave my native Lleida and my family to focus on being in Madrid with the Spanish team. It was an enormous sacrifice and something that made me see the importance of the family and what we need both from them and their support. Fortunately, I have always had it, even with the distance and in both victories and defeats.
Now I am a father and I can imagine how painful it was for my family to have me away from home. For this reason, I love enjoying my family for as long as I can. I enjoy having breakfast at home all together, taking my daughters Valentina and Alejandra to school , playing with them when I come home from training, cooking together or spending Sundays the four of us as a family.
Key to success
Ultimately, these are the three pillars on which the building of my path towards achievement of objectives is founded. The balance between these three factors is what allows me to give my best in the key moments, where I generally stake four years’ work in just over 30 seconds.