In August we had the chance to speak with Olympic medalist Travis Jayner.
Jayner skated to fame as a member of the bronze medal-winning 5000 meter short track speed skating relay team with Apolo Ohno. Over the years the Canadian-born Jayner has proven himself to be one of the rough-and-tumble sport’s stars, racking up more than a dozen medals in World Cup competition.
Although Jayner has since failed to make the cut as a member of the 2014 U.S. Olympic team, at the time we spoke, this USANA Health Sciences brand ambassador was still in the midst of his Sochi bid, and spoke to the intensity of his regimen, his daunting diet and go-to gear.
The Active Times: Describe a typical week in your pre-Olympic training regimen.
Travis Jayner: It’s a full time job. There are very few breaks and holes in the day or in the week and even in the entire year. It’s not uncommon for me to be at the rink or the oval at seven in the morning and to be finishing with cool down at seven p.m. it makes for some pretty long days. Warm ups are of the utmost importance. That’s about an hour and then I‘ll hop on the ice for 2-3 hours depending on where we are in the training program followed by some dry land imitations or some kind of circuit or running or biking. Imitating what we’re doing on the ice with our sneakers on to refine the technique and to build the muscles you just fatigued on the ice even more. Then 2 to 4 hours to rest and try to recover and recuperate and potentially back on the ice or a long bike ride or a climb back up into the mountains, weight training or a combination of all those.
I think a big part of it is getting into a good routine and good nutrition. Obviously with supplements I’m getting a big benefit. I feel better all the time, but working into that. You have to build into it. It’s something I pride myself on is pushing my body to its limits all the time and every day—knowing it’s part of the plan and when to enjoy your pain and when you should be recovering. It’s a balancing act, like with anything.
Approximately how many calories do you have to eat?
Oh my goodness. I’m always, always, always trying to consume as much as I can. Some of my teammates give me a hard time because I’m so thin all of the time. I can’t consume enough. It’s gotta be outrageous. At the same time, I’m lucky to be in a position where I don’t have to cut weight. In skating, I’m trying to be as strong as I can and to be as thin as I can to have a better strength-weight ratio so that I’m not sinking in. It’s a fine, technical aspect of skating that is beautiful and also the most frustrating. The technical aspect: that’s what makes speed skating so amazing. There’s such a technical aspect to the sport. You could be the strongest or the fittest, but if you can’t apply that pressure into your skates and into the ice, you won’t be the fastest skater. For us, it’s not uncommon to have people who are awesome in summer training who push the most weight, but they don’t have that fine technical sense. Obviously, we’re always working on it; it’s something that’s hard to learn: to be very efficient on the ice. It’s something I still struggle with to this day. It’s technique—how can I apply the most pressure using the least amount of energy to go the fastest. It’s the greatest feeling and the hardest thing to achieve.
What are your favorite pre- and post-competition rituals?
Really, getting on the ice or off the ice. Coming off, I’m trying to go through my race in my mind—did I like this/ did I not like that/ what kind of adjustments do I want to make for the next race? Once we’re in the heat of racing, you have about 20 minutes in between competitions. You have to figure out how you want to improve and then refocus for the next race.
Name your 3 favorite/most reliable/wouldn't go out without pieces of winter gear.
I feel like for me it’s winter all the time. I always have a hoodie with me. I always wear beanies or hats and a headband and I always have gloves because I feel like my hands are cold. When it comes to caps and beanies, there’s a brand called Discrete. For gloves: under armor and Oakley. That way they’re not too bulky. I can still tie my sneakers with them. Hoodie: Oakley. I wear Oakley on the ice when I practice and when I’m training.
What's been your biggest sacrifice in preparation for the Games?
I feel like I’m a really social person and here in salt lake they have free concerts for almost two months in the summer. With that, I Feel like I really want to go, but I need to rest and prepare for the next day of training. In terms of meeting up with friends and those sorts of social things, I don’t get to do that because I know I’m better off putting my feet up and not being up late at night. I’ve got to be to bed by ten. It’s not so much overtraining for me as much as it is under recovery. If I can get better recovery, I can push myself more tomorrow. I’m just trying to make sure I can do everything in my power. When I look back, I don’t doubt that I did everything I could.