Friday, February 7, 2014

What Does a Junior World Champion Speed Skater Eat?

It has been a long wait, but thankfully the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are nearly upon us. It is such a privilege to see top athletes compete and perform at such a high level. One of my favorite events to watch is short track speed skating. Short track speed skating is a competitive form of ice speed skating which consist of 500m, 1000m, 1500m, 3000m, and the relay.
So just how do these elite athletes fuel themselves? I got the privilege to interview a remarkable and talented young athlete – John-Henry Krueger, 18. But first, here is just some Krueger’s career highlights so far.
At only age 5, Krueger began skating in Pittsburgh, PA, and it wasn’t long until he began taking first at national level events.
2005 – National Pony Champion (age 10 and under)
2008 – National Midget Champion (age 11-12)
2009 – North American Juvenile Champion (age 13-14)
Since then, John-Henry has claimed 3 World Cup relay medals, 3 Junior World Championships, and is a Junior American Record Holder where his time of 40.588 in the 500m is the 5th fastest of all-time, and the fastest 500m of all-time for a skater under the age of 18. Remarkable to say the least.
Krueger had his sights set on the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi, but unfortunately, Krueger was diagnosed with the swine flu mid-January and fell short of making the Olympic Team. Although this was a major setback, Krueger is fully recovered and recently took first place in the American Cup 2 held in Blain, MN. John-Henry is set to compete in the US Junior Championships in the beginning of February held in Milwaukee, WI. But more than anything, Krueger has his sights set and locked on the 2018 winter Olympics.
1. From the very beginning you started competing and training, how important was nutrition? Was nutrition less important when you were first starting out compared to now?
When I was younger I wasn't too informed on nutrition, I was just out there to skate. But just because I wasn't paying attention to what was going in my body doesn't mean my mother wasn't. She always gave me healthy meals with just about everything in food pyramid except for some of the deserts. Lean meats pasta and loads of vegetables. I wasn't a picky eater.”
2. How important is staying hydrated when practicing and competing?
“Well you always hear how a large part/majority of your body is water. So staying hydrated is very important. Staying hydrated is good for your circulation and optimal muscle performance. It also reduces the risk of injury so I always try to drink lots of water especially during time of hard work and stress.”
3. Is there a certain pre workout meal you have? If so, how long before training or competing do you eat a pre workout meal? What would be your favorite pre workout food?

I wouldn't say I have a key pre workout meal. I always try to stay diverse when it comes to food. I will normally eat lots of carbohydrates and vegetables before racing. Normally very little or no meat right before. I try to finish my meals 2 to 3 hours before I leave for a race but I will snack along the way all day.”
4. Is there anything you eat for recovery following training or competition? Such as consuming protein shakes, fast acting carbohydrates, etc.
It depends on the workout if it was a really hard day I finish up with a protein bar or shake but on lighter or medium days I stick with bananas or granola bars.”

5. Do you follow a specific diet or do you just go off of feel for what your body needs in regards to nutrition?
I mainly don't have a strict diet. I will eat any variety of vegetable, meat, carbohydrates, and dairy. I think diversity is good for the body and food is too delicious to put limitations or restrictions on it. I do listen to what my body needs it terms of food but if my stomach is craving a cheeseburger I tend to ignore those signals.”

Gavin Van De Walle is an ISSA Certified Fitness Trainer, a NANBF Natural Competitive bodybuilder, and a dietetic student at South Dakota State University. Following graduation, Gavin will pursue his Ph.D. in nutritional sciences while aiming to make a positive impact on the over well-being and nutritional status of the American people along the way.