Judo is an intensely challenging physical and mental sport. There is no ‘off season’ and high-performance judo athletes are expected to remain in peak condition all year round.
However, judo is also a ‘weight making’ sport, meaning that competitors have to maintain a certain body weight while training and competing. When you add regular overseas travel to that, it’s clear that life as a top judoka presents a variety of challenges.
Scotland's first Olympic judo medallist, Sally Conway, gave Sport First an insight into how she fuels her training in a way that allows her to regularly compete on the world stage.
Training day food diary
Sally, 32, is a bronze medallist from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Rio 2016 Olympic Games and 2019 Judo World Championships.
She now has the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games firmly in her sights as a member of JudoScotland performance team and the British Judo World Class Performance Programme.
This is her food diary from a typical training day:
- Toast (2-3 slices) with butter, banana, sultanas, seeds and honey
(Training session 1)
- Protein bar/shake
- Oats bar
- 3 eggs on toast OR
- Chicken wrap with salad and dressing (extra virgin oil & honey cider vinegar)
(Training session 2)
- Meat or fish with rice and vegetables
- Rice cakes with cream cheese, seeds and dried fruit
I drink lots of water throughout the day, as it’s crucial to keep hydrated with two training sessions a day.
It's all about balance
Sally emphasises the importance of eating well to ensure she gets the most out of her sessions.
“I have to make sure I eat enough food to fuel my training and recovery as this will help when it comes to my energy levels and how hard I can push myself in training."
However, she also highlights the importance of a cheat day or meal now and then…
“I generally eat well as this makes me feel better and train better. But if I want some chocolate, a piece of cake with my coffee, or a pizza on a Saturday night, that’s okay.
"I love having down time and going out for brunch with friends – I love pancakes with eggs, bacon and maple syrup. I think it’s important to let yourself have a little of what you fancy.
"If I’m fuelling myself in the best way most of the time, I don’t believe it’s going to make a huge difference. If anything, it helps me feel better to allow myself these treats now and then.”
Sally is a great example of how nutrition can be used to aid performance and replenish her energy stores. She’s incredibly aware of how important it is to eat and drink the right things but also conscious of the importance of balance, and being able to enjoy occasional treats.