To compliment some work I'm doing with Sport Tasman and the Pathway to Podium Programme run through High Performance Sport and Sport New Zealand, I'll be interviewing some of our country's top athletes to find out what they eat!
This will help to provide ideas and inspiration for our budding young athletes and how they can begin to incorporate nutritious & delicious foods into their training and competition schedules.
First up is the young and highly talented Olivia Merry from the New Zealand Black Sticks Women's team...
Where do you currently live? Auckland & Christchurch
Tell us a little about your sport and the weekly training that’s involved? Hockey. We train 30 hours a week which includes 3 gym sessions, 4 turf training sessions, 1 or 2 individual training sessions, 1 game or extra training depending on what type of Loaded week it is. Each week is loaded differently according to the training phase we are in. Red is hard, orange is moderate and green is a light week (these often only happen post tours).
What’s your favourite pre-training or pre-match meal? My favourite pre-training and pre-match meal is cereal. Most of our team lives off the stuff. I am lucky enough to be personally sponsored by Pure Delish which do a fantastic variety of cereals, they also keep me pretty stocked up when I go away.
It’s great to know what our top athletes eat! Run us through a typical training day and what you would eat? A typical training day would normally consist of a Banana Berry Smoothie for pre-training (am session) then cereal and yoghurt post-training. Lunch can vary a lot but my favourite would be avocado, tomato and scrambled eggs on pumpernickel bread (rye bread). This is also sometimes a pre-training snack. Depending how hard training is going to be depends on how much I will eat pre-training, but normally oats and a banana will keep me going through the tough trainings. Dinner (depending on how late it is) will be a chicken salad or a roast vegetable salad with steak. There is a lot of coffee in between as well.
What’s your go-to recovery snack or meal after a game? Recovery food varies a lot depending upon on how intense training has been. If it has been a hard training or the gym, I'll always have a protein shake either mixed with water or if I have time it will be made into a smoothie. If training hasn’t been too intense, it will be a banana and glass of milk. Usually by the time I get home from training, an hour has passed and I will eat a full recovery meal.
Do you have a stand-out cook in the team? We have a few budding bakers in the team and one of the girls is very good in the kitchen and that is Jordy Grant. Always experimenting whether it’s a Julia and Libby recipe or one from Annabel Langbein.
If we peered into your fridge and pantry what would we find? Not a lot at times. Mostly the standard vegetables and fruit, coconut water is a must, berries and heaps of eggs!
What’s your favourite meal of all time? My favourite home cooked meal would have to be butterfly lamb cooked on the BBQ with roast vegetables.
Name your go-to blog or cookbook for healthy recipe inspiration? There are so many blogs out there now but Millie Elder Homes blog Clean Eatz NZ. However, I do think there is also a lot of false information online which can be misleading and confusing for people that are a bit unsure about foods.
Do you have a local café that you would recommend to other athletes? There are so many choices in Auckland but SIP kitchen on the shore is my go to for a quick snack or smoothie and in Christchurch, Hello Sunday Café is probably my favourite.
Do you have any advice for staying hydrated whilst travelling to games or tournaments overseas? I struggle in hot countries to stay hydrated and rehydrating before the next game is so important so you can preform. However, a product called nuun normally saves me. I will have one in the morning and one post-match before bed to stay hydrated. During flying it is very hard to stay hydrated but I recommend taking your own drink bottle onto the plane and just asking the air hostess to fill it up. I try to consume 1 litre per 3 hours of travel as well as nuun when I am feeling dehydrated.
Do you have any tips for budding young athletes wanting to ward off illness, cold or flu whilst travelling and tackling a gruelling sporting schedule? Nasal spray and sinus rinse (as gross as it sounds) helps me during flying and once I am in my destination as there are so many bugs that are carried through the air on planes and airports so keeping the nasal passage moist is key. Also, during the season it's learning to listen to your body, sleep when you need sleep and to eat more when you're hungry.
Thanks so much Olivia for being the first up! I learnt some valuable travelling tips and discovered new products that could be really useful to other athletes!