Christmas with an Olympic athlete

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We catch up with our Healthy Sleep Ambassador, Katarina Johnson on how she’ll be spending this Christmas this year.

While we’re all snuggling up in our Christmas jumpers Katarina has to keep up her training and make sure her training suits the weather conditions.

It becomes more about life conditioning of the body. A lot of long runs to get the lungs going. A lot of drills to condition the body to move in the right way and also gym work to strengthen every single muscle in the body!

I don’t dread the cold weather this year because I’m in the sunny south of France!’

Illness and injury are always a risk in sport, with one cold or bout of the flu threatening to halt training programmes and push back progress.

‘I am quite careful and cautious when using gym facilities. I always take a hand gel with me everywhere and make sure I use it before my hands go anywhere near my mouth/face! Injuries in the winter are less common for me. It’s just about being sensible and speaking up to the coach if I’m feeling run down that week. I am aware of not pushing my body too far over the edge too – still working hard but finding the proper balance.

Sleep is so important, especially because I have started doing two sessions a day now. I have to have a 40-minute nap in-between sessions to recharge and allow my muscles to recover properly before starting again.’

Even at an Olympic level you have to be able to give yourself some time off (even if it’s just one day!) – so how will Katarina be spending Christmas?

‘I will be spending Christmas Day in my aunties house with my entire family. There are around 20 of us give or take. Thankfully I am not in charge of the cooking or hosting so I just show up and enjoy! There’s no real prolonged ‘time off’ for me. I will get Christmas Day off but you have to keep the body ticking over. The tracks tend to close over Christmas so it will be more runs in a local park or going the gym and less technical work.’

Kat’s dogs are her pride and joy – so what canine presents will she be treating them to this year?

‘I’ve already bought them little tartan bow ties to go around their collar. And probably just their favourite treats. My next door neighbour bought them a doggy selection box last year, which I thought was pretty cool.’