Fuel for Gold pt.2: Q&A with Matthew Glaetzer and Sir Chris Hoy

Matthew Glaetzer, fast becoming an Australian track superstar, sits down with an undeniabl…

Matthew Glaetzer, fast becoming an Australian track superstar, sits down with an undeniable legend of the boards, Sir Chris Hoy. Cyclist eavesdrops as they talk track leading up to Glaetzer’s most important test yet at his home Games.

Following on from Part 1, the two discuss the finer details and ins and outs of what it takes to compete on a world-class level, and to maintain this performance, particularly all things nutrition. There are few better qualified to offer an insight into the preparation required up to and through gold medal events than Sir Chris Hoy. 

As this goes live he has just defended his Commonwealth Games gold  in the keirin and 1km time trial, complemented by a bronze in the team sprint, and while a hot favourite in the sprint, faced a disappointing defeat in the early rounds.

Chris Hoy: How does the team support your nutritional education?

Matt Glazier: We have a fantastic nutritionist with Jill Leckey, she has come on board and supported us really well. Getting into the details of what we eat. Making sure that it is balanced and at the right times as well. So it is having a bit more of a focus on what we eat and when we eat rather than just having a standard meal that you think is ok. On days off as well, there is a focus on making sure you eat enough but not too much to start putting on a bit too much fat and trying to keep that good balance going.

CH: How have you found using Science in Sport products so far? Have you got any favourites or any ones that you use regularly?

MG: SiS is a fantastic company and since they have come on board it has been great. The products are fantastic. The ones I use the most, pretty much everyday is the Whey Protein and the REGO after gym and track sessions so it has been fantastic to have that there ready as soon as we finish training to make sure that we support the training as best we can and it has been working really well.

CH: You’ll have to try the new Whey20 gels, they are coming out soon but we have had them in the UK for a while but they are my favourite. Just dead easy, really quick and simple to get your protein. 20g of protein per serving, but that’s my new favourite. Top tip when it comes out.

MG: I’ll have to suss it out.

CH: How important is it to you as an athlete that your SiS products are Informed Choice approved?

MG: It’s completely essential, it’s making sure that we have confidence in the product that it is safe and tested and because we get drug tested essentially every competition we do, we log in our whereabouts, where we are each night so they can come test us in the morning so we need to make sure that we are confident and the product is 100% clean and we can have faith in knowing that its safe to use. There is nothing worse than having an accidental positive test for using this product that you thought was good, but has this hidden supplement in there that may not be on the label even so it’s critical for us in the world we live in.

CH: For me personally as an athlete over the years, it was the biggest reason why I used SiS products, because I could trust them. It has to be the priority knowing that everything you are putting into your body is 100% safe and there is no risk of a false positive as you said. That would be your career, your reputation and everything gone so that is why I chose SiS.

MG: Exactly, it is the number one factor we look at when we are talking about nutrition. It’s like, OK is it tested first, is it batch tested, does it have that Informed Sport branding. So yeah, it’s critical.

CH: What are your top tips for preparing for a race? Doe you have any rituals, superstitions? What is your routine like?

MG: I don’t have any superstitions. I’m very, well in the past I have been a bit unorganised in forgetting things to the track. So it’s just the simple things, making sure that before you leave to go to the competition, you just go through, take time and say look make a checklist, I’ve got everything, all the equipment I need, all the support and nutrition I need. That’s the base start but for me I time out my warm up. I make a schedule on my phone as to what time I get on the rollers and what time I do certain aspects of my warm up. I plan all my preparation down to the minute up to my race time. That can be flexible because racing can go over schedule or under schedule so it’s all different.

CH: How do you manage your energy intake throughout the day? Because as a sprinter, at a world cup or a major event you could be warming up at 7am and you could be finishing the final ride at 10pm. So you’re racing so many times, up and down, up and down for 12 hours, 14 hours sometimes. How do you keep that energy going when you are not able to have a great big meal?

MG: It is tough, and you can get caught with not eating much at all because you have maybe half an hour, 40 minutes in between races and all of a sudden it’s 3pm and you’re like I haven’t had lunch and I had breakfast at 6am. What am I doing? So you need to really have a conscious effort of making notes of when you can eat. Quick bars and gels are perfect, so the SiS range that we have. Come in from a race and you just keep topping up your fuel. Get those gels in and it’s all about the scheduling as well. You need to have that regular balance because you have breaks here and there but they don’t come too often.

CH: It’s obviously a bit warmer down here than it is back in the UK at this time of the year, how important is hydration to you when you are training?

MG: It is massive; it’s a big focus with me especially in the gym sessions as well. I want to drink at least 3 or 4 bidons that I have. I use that as a gauge, how many times have I refilled because we are sweating so much. This velodrome there is no climate control, so it a freezer in winter and an oven in summer and with the humidity as well that sometimes is here (in Adelaide) it can be pretty extreme conditions for training in. So there is avoidance of cramping and injury through good hydration so it’s critical and we have a big focus on it.

CH: How important is carbohydrate to you in maintaining your energy levels?

MG: It’s big, as an athlete some people think you need to be lean and all that sort of stuff and cut back your carbs, but for us you need to fuel yourself and on a big training day my breakfast is quite large and the lunches are quite large because I need to make sure that I am fuelled for the days training.  So carbohydrates is what we need to get the training done and keep us fit for the next few days too.

CH: Do you have a rough idea of your calorie intake on a normal training day?

MG: It’s about 4,500 calories on a double training day.

CH: And for a sprinter, people think that sprinters just sit around for most of the day, do a couple of efforts and then sit around chatting but your volume of training as a sprinted that you are doing at the moment; particularly right now, high volume, mid-pre season, your working not just high intensity but high volume too.

MG: Exactly, and because we are sprinters too, we need to maintain our muscle mass as well and you need the fuel to do that. If you don’t quite eat enough, you will start eating away at your reserves and not just fuelling yourself from what you’ve eaten but what you have got in your body already. It is that balance and also with the training loads you need to make sure that the volumes you eat on a big day, isn’t as much on a smaller day just to make sure that you are balanced out and don’t overeat on a rest day.

CH: Do you have anything that you like to eat on a cheat day?

MG: Yeah I have a sweet tooth and I am sucker for a bit of ice cream so that’s actually been one thing that I have had to cut out and back off on. Because I was eating a bit too much in the first couple of years, I had a high metabolism and I was lean anyway so thought it was all good and I could get away with it. So that is my treat day, I’d have a bowl of ice cream after a big day once or twice a week.

CH: Did you ever train or race with Ryan Bailey?

MG: He just finished when I started

CH: You heard about his legendary diet?

MG: Yeah, his fast food

CH: We always thought that it was a bit of a rumour to wind everybody else up. I went to Japan for about 5 weeks and trained with him, lived with him, saw him day in and day out and all he did was eat fast food and drink a certain high profile sugary sweet drink from America and that was it. It was incredible that he was able to perform at that level. Not for long though mind you.

CH: Could you tell us a little bit about your recovery routine after training?

MG: So a gym session finishes and I walk out of the gym straight away and fill my protein shaker up with water and get the Whey and REGO in, shake it up and skull that pretty much as soon as I finish. The rule of thumb is 20-30 minutes after you finish exercising you need to get protein in but that time is reduced if you are a highly trained athlete so need to make sure you get it in as soon as possible. So that is the firs thing that I do to make sure I get the maximum training effect from the training that I have just done. Then we might have a 2 -3 hour break in between gym and track on one particular day so I will come up to the athlete lounge, put the feet up and maybe have a little bit of a nap. Have a uni lecture playing if I am studying at the time. I am studying part time health science, degree in human movement to lead onto physiotherapy, so that is my academic backup plan after sport.

CH: How are you finding that (studying)?

MG: Yeah it is good, it is hard to stay motivated with the study because most of the time as you’d know, you are pretty fatigued and drained to then get up and watch a lecture and pay attention and the mental energy to learn some quite intense things is draining and it’s not easy. But you need to make sure that there is that backup plan after sport because there is that big issue in elite sport with athletes not actually planning for life after your professional sport. So it is critical and I do enjoy it so that is my plan afterwards.

CH: Does it help take your focus away from thinking about bike racing 24/7 to give you a release from that?

MG: It does yeah, and it is critical for me to have a balance as well. It is all well and good to be so passionate about cycling but you need that outlet. Uni is one of them and thankfully I am a local here in Adelaide with the training facilities based here so I’ve got my friendship circles from schools and other circles as well so it is good to have that outlet to keep you balanced.

CH: What about after a race/ championship. Does your recovery routine vary from your training routine? Or is it a similar process you go through?

MG: It is pretty similar. So there is 3 or 4 days of racing and after the last race specifically of a race day, get the protein shake in straight away and maybe do a few stretches afterwards at the track but then we’d pack up as soon as we can and head to the hotel. Have a shower and maybe an ice bath just to cool the core temp and get a good night sleep. Sleep is pretty critical, if you don’t get much sleep, you’re not much good in the morning so it’s a big part of winding down and shutting off as soon as you can after racing. That’s a big thing because you can be wired for quite a while with the adrenaline of it all, the crowd, the lights, and the cameras. It is important to try and shut off and say ok this day is done and start winding down to get that good sleep.

CH: How do you deal with if you’re doing multiple events over multiple days at the Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games, and World Championships? How do you deal with backing up from event after event, day after day and not thinking too far ahead or if you have had a bad day, reflecting on the bad day you have had?

MG: It is a challenge, you need to try and stay in the moment and last Commonwealth Games, 2014 I had a bad one in the sprint and I was knocked out much earlier than I was expecting. I think it was the quarterfinals or something by Jason Kenny and I qualified fastest. It was just a mistake tactically and I was gone, that was a big hit and that hurt but I needed to use that as motivation. I needed to take a little while to be disappointed and upset but I then used that, OK right on, I have the Keirin tomorrow and you need to set your sights on that next event. Just think about what do I need to do now to improve, what’s the next thing that I need to do and go out there and do it well. I really used that as motivation and I was a man on a mission that next day to make up for it. I managed to win the Keirin so it worked out.

CH: Protein was critical for me when I was competing, how big a role does protein play in your training and competition?

MG: Protein is massive for us as sprinters we are all about trying to be strong and powerful and that takes a certain amount of muscle mass. That’s what we try and build and develop in the gym and on the track so the protein supplement that we have in conjunction to that training just enhances that training stimulus and that effect that we are going for in what we are doing on and off the bike. It is having it as soon as we can post training and it is a critical part of what we do really. The Overnight Protein that SiS has is fantastic; we use that pretty much every night. It is just making sure that when your body is resting and recovering in that critical phase of sleep, that you do have that protein in your system to have that extra recovery.

CH: And what’s your favourite flavour?

MG: Chocolate is the go to for me.

CH: Nice, I’m a mint choc kind of guy

CH: Final question, the important one. Who is going to win more medals, Australia or the GB nations?

MG: I’m going to have to back Aussies on this one. We’re gunning for Comm Games so bring it on.

Catch up on Part 1 of the Q&A here, and Matthew’s next gold.