Interview with Olympic Rower Sophie Mackenzie: training an Olympian
Athletes the country over are gearing up for selection for next year’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Blenheim-born, Sophie Mackenzie, is one of those talented kiwi’s training and preparing with the intention to compete as part of the Rowing Team. We spoke to the two-time rowing world champion on her love of the sport, how to train for the Olympics and her top tips for performance recovery.
How did you first discover the sport?
I am the youngest of 7 siblings and my oldest sister was a rower so I would always go down to the Maadi cup with my family and watch the different regattas. Everyone would see my legs and be like “oh you have such long legs, you would make such a great rower” and I always said “nope, that’s never happening” Then when it came time to sign up, all my friends were signing up, so I did it! I was 14.
What was it like to be at the Olympics in Rio 2016?
It was pretty amazing; we always race in Europe and Rio was a totally different world. It was so fascinating watching all the other Olympic sports. We would sit in the cafeteria and guess which people belonged to which sports because there were athletes of all shapes and sizes. It was just incredible. It was a once in a lifetime feeling that is hard to put into words.
What does rowing mean to you?
Whenever I row, I am happy. It is a new challenge every day and rowing professionally is an amazing life to live. After the Rio Olympics I took some time off to re-evaluate and after that time I knew I wasn’t doing the sport just to win medals – which I think people can get lost in. I genuinely enjoy it. Getting back on the water and getting lost in the rhythm of the stroke is such a calming practice and I just love it.
What does your training schedule look like now?
We row and train six days a week, most days including 2-3 sessions a day. It is roughly 4-5 hours of training a day with two weight sessions a week and lots of on water training. I’m overcoming an injury at the moment and I have been doing A LOT of rehab exercises, walking, swimming and slowly building back into erging and rowing.
What do you do to recover?
After a training session I try eating within 30 minutes. Timing is so important for recovery, making sure you are eating enough and fuelling right. I always make sure I have enough carbohydrates and protein for my body weight. I usually have porridge with a serve of Nuzest Clean Lean Protein, this gives me about 20g of protein, essential for my recovery. I also do a lot of stretching, Yoga and Pilates which always helps me, and I’ll get a massage once a week for injury prevention.
How do Nuzest and SOS help with your performance?
I use Nuzest as a recovery took, usually after a morning session and especially if I am doing a double. I definitely need to get some protein in between, so I’ll make up a quick shake with some banana and down the hatch it goes. Eating is the last thing you feel like doing after a race, but I know I need to refuel so I can recover my best, that is why I love Nuzest. One time I was pulled into the rowing team late notice in Europe and I didn’t have enough supplements with me. Nuzest managed to fly some Clean Lean Protein over for me. It was such a godsend because you never know what food you are going to get on tour, so having the reassurance of quality protein gave me peace of mind. I also suffer from really bad headaches and it’s never nice training with a headache, so I use SOS Hydration sachets if I know I am going to have a long session on the bike or water. I will have one bottle of SOS and one of water, but I always find I drink the SOS much faster and don’t get dehydrated.
Any advice for up and coming athletes?
My biggest advice would be - always make sure you enjoy what you are doing. If you are not enjoying it, you aren’t going to give something your all. I think goal setting is such a big part of being a good athlete and seeing what you are capable of. Not just setting goals you know are achievable but setting goals you think sometimes aren’t and that is what pushes you to get better.
The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and is general advice. It should not, nor is it intended to be, relied on as a substitute for individual medical advice or care. If the contents of this, or any other of the blogs in this series raises any concerns or questions regarding your health, please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.