Olympic and world champion, Katie Archibald got into cycling after winning handicap races on a Highland Games grass track. She writes a column for Cycling Weekly each week
Through British Cycling I work with a lot of different folk. Of course there’s my team-mates and the squad coach, but there’s also the strength and conditioning coach, the physiologist, the physiotherapist, the performance analyst, Diane at reception, the nutritionist…
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There’s a whole world of ‘performance support’ out there and when you gain access to a national Olympic team the door to that support opens wide.
The nutritionist I work with is called Kath. I have no memory of Kath actually saying this but we’ve attributed to her the catchphrase, “there are no bad foods just bad choices”.
In some senses, this means you can’t blame the four cheese pizza you had last week for the lower back tattoo you got on holiday.
In another sense, one that Kath seems to give far more backing to, it means eating Jelly Babies to fit in extra carbs around a hectic race day might be a good choice, but having Jelly Babies for dinner because you couldn’t be bothered cooking is a bad choice.
Kath helps us with race-day fuelling plans, with muscle-building plans, with tracking our body composition, with nutritional amendments around illness or injury; with lots of areas that require precision and expertise.
However, I think the reason “there are no bad foods just bad choices” gets the air time that it does is because it applies to your day-to-day nutrition, the importance of which outweighs all of these areas combined.
On top of that, getting the day to day right is far more difficult because it’s boring and requires the least sexy of the sporting virtues: patience and consistency.
So at this World Championships, instead of our usual week of hotel buffet raiding (“I didn’t pay for this meal but I still feel determined to eat more than my money’s worth”) we hired a performance chef. Well, actually, we brought along ‘Performance Chef’ Alan Murchison.
We had bircher muesli for breakfast every day and then Emily Nelson and I became Madison world champions.
I hope Alan (and his co-chef Sean) come back next year.