Born in Preston and raised in Clitheroe, modern pentathlete Samantha Murray burst onto the international scene in 2012 when she helped the Great Britain team to European and world gold. Since then she has continued to carve out a name for herself, winning multiple world and European gold medals, including the individual title at the former in 2014. Samantha competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games, coming away with silver in the women’s event.
In her latest blog, Olympic silver medallist Samantha Murray discusses the importance of good nutrition for an Olympic athlete
See more of her profile by clicking here
After a festive season where it seemed there were sweet treats everywhere you turned, now is the time to kick start the New Year on the right foot.
I have to admit, I do have a bit of a sweet tooth and I’ll treat myself in moderation. For example we enjoyed chocolate cheesecake after our meal the other day.
But it’s about balancing what you are eating and being sensible really and that’s what I did over the festive period. When you are training so much during the week, it’s important to make sure you stay focused with your nutrition and getting the right things into your body.
What do you typically eat during the day?
I always make sure to eat breakfast. I love porridge oats with some fruit or nuts and then a bit of honey for sugar. I have to admit I am a bit of a coffee addict too. Aldi in fact do a really good award winning coffee so I’m always making sure to stock up on that. I’ll have some fruit in the morning to keep me going and then for lunch it’s a case of getting carbs, protein and veg into you.
Our modern pentathlon training base is at the University of Bath and they have a good sports cafe where there’s a really good choice of food so we’re able to maintain our nutritional intake throughout the day and working week. For example there’s a healthy bolognese that I have with bulgur wheat and then add a bit of cheese on top, as the right fats are important too. I might also have a bean salad with it and then another coffee!
In the evening and away from training, I do enjoy a spot of cooking and I’ll be busy in the kitchen in the New Year. I have a lot of friends who are athletes so we’re always looking to fuel up. The other evening we cooked a creamy salmon dish with wholemeal brown pasta. There was a bit of parmesan cheese on top too but it ticked the boxes for carbs and protein and then we had some green vegetables on the side. You have to make sure you eat enough as you are going to be burning it off in training and competition.
Where do athletes differ from non-athletes in their eating patterns?
Athletes are different from non athletes in that we will have snacks throughout the day to keep our energy levels up; for me it's important to eat little and often as this keeps me going through to the next training session. So we might have an energy drink, some dried fruit like berries or a protein bar or protein shake. There’s also obviously a simple thing like a banana which you can’t go wrong with.
As well as food though, it is very important to stay hydrated so I try my best to keep sipping water throughout the day.
Where do you differ from other athletes?
Compared to perhaps other sports where you have to be quite lean, I have to make sure I am strong and powerful. When you are sitting on a horse you have to have good all round power and it’s the same for the other disciplines like fencing. I’m not going to be your typical skinny sportswomen as that’s not required for our sport and, as a result, you have to make sure you are getting enough calories on board. We’re lucky that we get plenty of nutritional support and it certainly helps towards making yourself the best athlete you can be.
In next month's blog, check out how Sam’s plans for the new season are progressing