A Day in the Life of… An Olympic Athlete

Canadian skier Sara Renner tells us about balancing training and motherhood — and the food and fitness tips that work for her.
Olympic Athlete

WeightWatchers.com: You’re going for gold in your hometown province with the 30km mass start and individual sprint events. How did you come to specialize in cross-country skiing rather than downhill?
Sara Renner: Cross country skiing is a physically demanding sport. I love that it’s hard and requires such a commitment. My idea of a good time is going for a three-hour run in the mountains. But I’m a fan of all varieties of skiing and love slipping around on the snow on downhill skis too.

WW.com: The Olympics are just about upon us. How many hours a day do you train leading up to the big competitions? Can you give us an idea of a typical day/week in your life at this time?
SR: A big week for me is about 25 hours, with 3-4 hours of training a day. Most of the hours are done at a pace where conversation is possible. Twice a week we have really hard workouts and then two weight workouts a week. I train twice a day most days. On rest week, I might have 10 hours with only one workout a day.

WW.com: How do you eat to get enough fuel during these times? About how many calories do you consume in a day?
SR: The trick is to eat frequently enough so you never get hungry — about every three hours. Dips in blood sugar are not great for athletes. I try to add protein and vegetables and whole grains at all meals. We have a stocked kitchen of healthy foods so it’s easy to make good eating decisions. I don't count calories.

WW.com: What’s your favorite energy snack?
SR: I make my own granola with lots of nuts and seeds. Add yogurt and fruit and it is paradise in a bowl.

WW.com: What is your training regimen during the off-season?
SR: We take the month of April off. I exercise but not in a structured or planned way. I'll go ski touring or surfing, or hang out all day with my daughter.

WW.com: What do you typically eat during the off-season?
SR: Same as in training but less volume. I feel better when I eat well and I will continue with how I eat after my athletic career.

WW.com: You and your husband [recently retired Canadian Alpine skier and four-time Olympian Thomas Grandi] welcomed your daughter, Aria, in 2007. How easy (or difficult) was it to bounce back physically after you gave birth?
SR: It took longer than I expected to lose the weight after being pregnant. I was gentle with myself and gradually I regained my competition form. I have to be much more organized as a mother. I found the combination of being a mom and athlete manageable but if I added more to my schedule my training would suffer. Having a family gives a perspective on racing life. I feel lucky to be an athlete but even more so to have a family.

WW.com: Which fun winter fitness activities would you recommend to exercise newbies and intermediates?
SR: If you live with winter close by, cross country skiing is a great activity for all levels and ages. My advice would be to simply get outside, whether on your bike or for a walk.

WW.com: How do you protect your skin and hair in the winter?
SR: I always wear sunscreen and glasses. My hair is in a hat so I think it’s happy up there.

WW.com: Do you cook? What’s your favorite family week night dinner?
SR: I love to cook. I like to roast a chicken and enjoy it for dinner. Then I make a broth and enjoy it again in a soup the next day.

WW.com: How will you teach your daughter to live a healthy lifestyle? When will you put her on skis?
SR: I hope my daughter learns by watching how our family lives. We are surrounded by active people and I notice already that she loves to be outside and feel the wind on her face. We love to ski downhill and cross country for short bursts, with hot chocolate as the grand finale.

WW.com: How do you find “me time”? What do you do to relax and rejuvenate?
SR: My training is my "me" time. I use my long skis and runs to relax, think and be inspired.

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