You may remember from last summer that I am a huge Olympics fan. We had a party for the opening ceremonies. It was great. So I really love all things Olympics.
Shortly after the London Olympics, my church announced that one of our members, Charlie Houchin, had earned a gold medal in London. My ears perked up immediately and I knew that I wanted to try to meet this person and at the very least, pick their brain about their sports nutrition. Fortunately, Charlie did not think I was weird when I introduced myself and requested an interview for my very small blog.
We met at a Starbucks in December. He had his new lab puppy and I had Jackson -- so it was a little crazy. But I really enjoyed hearing his perspective on his career, sports, and nutrition. I hope you enjoy it as well and will cheer him on in the next Olympics.
(Note: I typed up Charlie's answers so I'm adding a few words on my own to make more complete sentences from my notes.)
4 x 200 m Relay Gold Medalist Charlie Houchin
What is your training schedule like?
Low key – I took 2 months completely off after the Olympics. I'm taking time to enjoy other things. Starting in January I'll be swimming once a day - 7:30 am swim till 10 or 11:30 am. My style is to get it all done in one workout. This is easier mentally and physically and it's easier to eat healthy. It feels more like an athlete because you are cogniscent of eating and training. I also do land training twice a week. My motto is to be as obsessed as you can with core stabilizer exercises.
What are some of your daily challenges you face as an elite athlete?
Athletes get to lead fortunate and blessed lives. It’s fun to be in a profession where training your body is the main goal. Preventing injuries is a big challenge , specifically shoulder pain is an issue. Another "challenge" I have is saying no to normal life activities because I am in training.
What do you eat before a race and practice? (I had to ask)
Race: OJ, 1/2 bagel, yogurt, and banana at home. Then I go to pool with coffee and an energy gel with caffeine for after my warm up.
Practice: Greek yogurt, banana, cup of coffee
What’s your favorite recovery meal?
Protein shake 1 hour after weights. Then steak, mashed potatoes, and broccoli for a meal.
Do you have any pre-race rituals?
No – when I get to the pool I have practiced the whole routine from stepping on the pool deck to getting on the blocks. I can turn off my brain once I get to the pool and go through the motions, relying on what I’ve practiced for over 10 years. It’s kind of like being a robot for an hour and half.
Now that you’ve won a gold medal, what’s motivating you to continue competing?
I want to continue to work towards what I am capable of and achieving goals I’ve had since I was little. I would like to win an individual gold medal. I needed a few months after the Olympics was over --- I stayed out the water till I couldn’t stand it anymore. I opted out of a championship event this fall to enjoy some other aspects of life. I was figuring out how much I wanted to get back into swimming. I know that I still enjoy it. I want it to be a part of my profession but not the whole thing. I want all areas of my life to complement each other. I'm also working on a start-up venture project.
What was your favorite Olympic memory?
Walking out for the 4x200m relay. I didn't really look up at the stands becuase you can just feel what’s going on. In swimming, you are always working to get to the next level. I realized in this moment that there is no next level. This was it.
What is advice/encouragement you have for people just trying to be fit and healthy? Those pursuing athletic goals?
Get involved in something you like. My days are more productive when I starts with exercise. It gets you off on the right foot. If you're an athlete and you haven’t gotten to college yet, be sure that’s what you really want to do. Figure out what you’re really good at. Let it come to you. Make sure you are enjoying it first.