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Allison Campaigns for 2012 OlympicsWednesday, 12 Jan, 2011
A few months ago I decided to campaign for the 2012 London Olympics. I knew I would have my work cut out for me, having been through three Olympic trials before. The biggest issue ahead of me would be getting into competition fitness without a coach, trainer or dietician. Part of that training requires me to lose 10kg. I have been taught a lot about the science of losing weight and training through past AIS and NSWIS scholarship programs, so I knew that losing those kilos wouldn’t be easy!
A few years ago I went for a World speed record in the south of France. For those speed enthusiasts out there, it is imperative to be as heavy as possible so I bulked up to 73kg and carried 15kg of lead on my back. We say ‘Fat is fast!’ because when a lot of wind hits your sail, the extra weight helps you keep control and hence keep the board on the water to keep the speed as you go down the run. As it turned out I was successful in breaking the A Class World speed record three times, before running up the bank and snapping my only fin for that board. But for the Olympic events, I need to be quite a bit lighter, around 60kg. When I decided to campaign for London 2012 and as a consequence I needed to drop that weight fast!
Most Olympic female windsurfers are between 55-60kg, even those at 60kg often say, "Oh I’m at such a disadvantage in light wind!" and here I was at 71kg. We race around a course like boats do, except we can hit the buoys (marks) as we pump our sails to propel the board faster around the course. Everyone has the same board, sail and fin, so it tests the ability of the sailor and not the equipment. Whilst the lighter girls have the advantage in light wind, heavier girls like me tend to excel in the stronger winds. The only problem is, we hardly ever get to race in strong conditions because races are scheduled in the morning. So we race twice at 10am and then 11am sailing back to shore in a nice sea breeze. Very frustrating for someone like me, but if you want to go to the Olympics, you have no choice but to loose the kilos.
So in November last year I started training again, I moved to the city so I can sail on Sydney Harbour most days and work every other day. In the previous Olympic trials I was fortunate to have the support to be able to focus all my efforts full time on keeping my weight down, training and competing. This time I’m holding down three jobs, finding the time to run, go to the gym and train on the water. I have also realised that a 28 year old body doesn’t recover like a 20 year old body! I often wake up in pain and no amount of physio can keep on top of it. Between November and December I managed to loose 5 kg and dropped my weight to 65.5kg. I was running about an hour per day, I focussed on core stability exercises and used my own body weight as resistance instead of weights and I did plenty of one legged squats, lunges, dips, push ups, sit ups, bridges etc in my apartment.
Diet also plays a huge part of training; I have just a few rules to keep me in line. 1) Energy in verses energy out! If you can’t train much that day, you can’t have as many kilo joules; it’s as simple as that. I try to stick to about 5000kj per day. 1500kj for main meals and 500kj for a snack in between. 2) Don’t eat after 7pm. 3) Try not to eat too many carbohydrates; I limit myself to 1 piece of bread per day, for breakfast. 4) No soft drinks, milkshakes, anything with lots of sugar in it. I don’t even drink sports drinks, just water! And limit alcohol to one or two glasses if you go out. 5) I’m sad to say this, but cut the chocolate, ice cream, chips, biscuits etc. It’s ok to have one row of chocolate as a snack, but who just has one row! So I decided to cut it. I found that if I can keep to these few rules then the weight just falls off and with regular exercise the results increase dramatically.
After a hectic month of racing in December I felt my body start to become overwhelmed on my drive back to Sydney from Melbourne. My head became heavy and being so run down with not enough sleep, not enough recovery, the quick weight loss and overall exhaustion, a common flu hit me hard! As a result my only time off for the whole year which happened to be Christmas – New Year was spent trying to recover from being sick. Of course when you can’t run an hour a day and with Christmas, my weight battle was lost and I gained 3kg in one week. So once January hit I started to push myself again and in the first two weeks and dropped 2kg again. Consistency really is the key to keeping the weight off, you really can’t have more than 2 or 3 days off exercise if you want to maintain a steady decrease in size.
Training for now will continue as before; running, gym, dieting and windsurfing as much as I can, I’m sure there will be many more stories to come this year as, starting from march, I have nine Olympic trial events all over the world! Wish me luck!