How to train like an Olympian- feed loadings of peanut butter and listen to robots

Want to be the next Simone Biles or Adam Peaty? You might manage it if you follow the unconventional tactics employed by Rios star athletes

Hire a Catholic missionary as your coach-and-four

Most athletes who want to improve their performance do not consult retired geography teachers turned missionaries. But it worked for David Rudisha, and for the other Kenyan athletes who have won 39 medals at the last four Olympics under the tutelage of Colm OConnell. OConnell , now 67, came to Kenya from Ireland in 1976. He has no personal background in athletics or formal training as a coach; he started working with athletes as a means of seeking his vocation as a missionary.

David Rudisha with his coach-and-four, Brother Colm OConnell. Photograph: Michael Steele/ Getty Images

Still, Rudisha and his compatriots help find his advice invaluable and now Rudisha has retained the 800 m gold that he won in London, others will hope to mimic his techniques. They are, OConnell told the Financial Time earlier this year, artistic rather than scientific. I concentrate more on the person or persons and what they guess, he said. If you cant find any local missionaries, see if any of your old teachers are hankering for a career change.

Abuse your mothers

Santo Condorelli gives his dad the finger before the 50 m freestyle semi-final at Rio. Photo: Gabriel Bouys/ AFP/ Getty Images

Listening to a favourite anthem, donning your shinpads in a particular order, sneaking off for a crafty cigarette: pre-competition superstitions are a banality even on the amateur sporting scene. If the superstition bit is ridiculous, there is something to be said for a reliable routine that gets you into the right frame of mind for the tournament ahead. Canadian swimmer Santo Condorelli gives “his fathers” the finger. He has been doing it since he was eight, and bigger boys were beating him.[ He said :] Youve got to build your confidence yourself and say eff everybody else that youre racing, Santo said. He said: Every day youre behind the blocks, give me the finger and Ill devote it back to you. If your own parents dont tend to spectate at your sporting events, see if your partner would mind if you telling them to bog off. Condorelli missed a bronze in the 100 m freestyle by 0.03 seconds, it should be noted, so you might want to do it twice merely to be sure.

Ingest hornet vomit

Naoko Takahashi wins the marathon at Sydney. Photograph: Andy Lyons/ Allsport

Forget Maximuscle: if you really want a competitive edge, you need to think outside the box. When Japanese marathon runner Naoko Takahashi set a new record at Sydney 2000, she was taking an amino acid derived from the larva of the Asian giant hornet. While surveys arent definitive, one found that the stuff could increase oxygen intake and lessening fat in older girls. These hornets can travel at 25 mph for up to 60 miles while hunting, so it makes a weird kind of sense. No term on whether anyone has tried cheetah puke.

Cup, or whatever

Michael Phelps during the heats at Rio. Photograph: Imago/ Barcroft Images

Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian of all time. Michael Phelps had weird purple circles on his back. If you could get weird purple circles on your back, perhaps you would be better at yoga. What Phelps and others are doing, as has been widely reported, is cupping: business practices were obtained from ancient Chinese medicine where a suction cup pulls blood to the surface of the scalp, supposedly speeding up recovery. Cool! There is no conclusive evidence that it actually works, though, so feel free to merely draw on yourself with marker pen.

Stop waxing

Members of the GB womens track cycling squad. Photo: Patrick Semansky/ AP

In their relentless pursuing of the marginal gains that have made them such a dominant force-out at the velodrome, the British cycling team have given their female athletes somewhat peculiar advice: stop getting bikini waxes. Saddle sores had been a persistent problem for the cyclists, and Jane Sterling, a top consultant in vulval health from Cambridge University, told British Cycling that hair removal wasnt doing them any prefers: pubic hair helps move sweat away from the scalp and stop the kind of rubbing that was causing problems. It worked like sorcery: not one of the squads elite cyclists has suffered a saddle sore in six months.

although maybe shave

Synchronised swimmers Anna-Maria Alexandri and Eirini-Marina Alexandri of Austria. Photo: Stefan Wermuth/ Reuters

You was likely to tailor your personal grooming to your preferred athletic, though. Swimmers are well known for having scalp as smooth as that of a newborn seal. In fact, this isnt because it helps reduce resistance, as we all assume their hi-tech swimming costumes take care of that but because the process removes dead scalp, bringing their nerves closer to the surface and making them feel more in touch with the water for a largely psychological benefit. You wouldnt want to take this too far, unless you want to feel like the byproduct of one of Hannibal Lecters skin suits, but you will definitely feel slower in the water with a beard.

Pretend to be in Popeye

Modern pentathlete Samantha Murray, AKA Olive Oyl. Photograph: Leszek Szymanski/ EPA

Hes a lovely lad, but when he gets out on the pitch hes a completely different person: footballs governing excuse of hooliganistic behaviour can usefully apply in other fields, too. Modern pentathlete Samantha Murray has a novel take on the form: when she develops, she supposes of herself as Olive Oyl. I dont know that Olive would be my athletic model of option, but each to their own. Murrays coach started it: He said I genuinely reminded him of Olive from Popeye, she explained. Ive get dark hair and usually quite pale scalp. The conception of Olive emerged and I just liked the notion of stepping into Olives shoes when I compete. Murray is vying on Thursday; youll know shes ready for action if you spot her stealing her boyfriends spinach.

Let robots control your mind

Robby Smith, US Greco-Roman wrestler, at Rio. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/ Getty Images

Not for you the tired motivational thud of Eminem or David Guetta: you are an Olympian, ish, and your taste in music is more mechanical. Take your inspiration from the US wrestling team, who rely on a site called generates sound use an algorithm and new spatial audio technologies to produce breathtaking soundscapes that also stimulate the brain, it says. A plethora of different bots play various instruments. The theory is that by aligning the musics own vibrations with the brains natural frequencies( you what ?), you can help adjust the subjects state of mind towards focus, relaxation or sleepiness. The US wrestlers have mostly been using it to get to sleep. Voices like hogwash, but the evidence is there, and the US wrestling team swears by it, and were not arguing with the US wrestling team.

Stay paranoid, stay healthy

South Korean archers Chang Hye-Jin, Choi Mi-Sun and Ki Bo-Bae. Photograph: Yves Herman/ Reuters

You likely havent got any significant athletic events coming up in Rio, but if you did, and you were worried about get sick, you could follow the South Korean squad, who are currently wearing tracksuits infused with insect repellent in the hope of warding off Zika. There are, similarly, rowers who are bleaching their oars when they come out of the water to avoid contamination. Better safe than sorry why not try wearing a gas mask at the gym?

Kickstart, dont false start

Unless youre Usain Bolt, you may need to crowdfund. Photo: Rex/ Shutterstock

Marginal gains do not come at a marginal expense, Im afraid, and if you are planning to follow Olympian in their scrupulous attention to athletic detail, you may also have to follow them in their often desperate hunts for the necessary funds to pay for it. Usain Bolt probably isnt among them, but there are 140 athletes in Rio who have raised more than $780,000( 600,000) between them on GoFundMe to cover their costs for the Games. Next period youre thinking of asking for sponsorship for a fun running, consider framing your effort as the beginning of your four-year cycle towards Tokyo 2020. Hopefully, your new missionary coach-and-four will take you on for free.

Eat nothing but peanut butter

Peanut butter on toast: a high-density snack. Photo: Getty Images/ iStockphoto

Never mind the jostling between nations peanut butter is winning these Olympics. The US gymnast Simone Biles eats it with a banana before her training sessions. If youre allergic to peanut butter, I feel sad for you, she tweeted two years ago. Her countryman, the swimmer Ryan Lochte, eats it in the form of Kind bars. Great Britains long jumper Greg Rutherford has spoonfuls straight from the jar. Last year, Rutherford even became a peanut butter salesman, promoting Sun-Pat.( Although the picture he tweeted last August doesnt look like anything from the Sun-Pat range to me)

Another Olympian to extol the benefits of PB is Biless team-mate Aly Raisman. Britains often winning triathlon squad led by the Brownlee friends doesnt just like peanut butter, it has an official nut butter supplier , no less.

What is it about peanut butter that attains it appeal to the worlds top athletes? And will feeing it turn you into one? Chris Cashin, a registered dietitian who lectures in athletics nutrition at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, has witnessed the peanut butter fad firsthand. Ive even got two sons who use gallons of it, she says. Athletes commonly spread it on carrot or celery sticks, add it to smoothies or eat it in its natural habitat: on toast.

A spoonful of peanut butter: fat, carbohydrate, fibre and protein. Photo: Martin Jacobs/ Getty Images

In truth, peanut butter has no further magical properties in itself. Generally speaking, “its just” ground-up peanuts, plus maybe a bit of oil, salt and sugar and peanuts are just a lot of fat, carbohydrate, fibre and protein. What is special about this paste, however, is its convenience. Besides mixing easily into sweet and savoury snacks and drinkings, it savours good, requires no preparation, lives for months in your locker without rotting and, crucially, combinings all those useful food groups in a very small volume, meaning that athletes can snack on it for energy and protein without get so full they waddle all over the track. The unglamorous truth about peanut butter, as Cashin sets it, is that it adds a lot of calories without too much bulk.

Other high-density snacks are, of course, available. Cashin mentions cereal bars and energy balls( which are spherical bars, as far as I can tell) as well as something called fat bombs. Thats a new one, she says. Its a mix of perhaps some coconut oil, coconut and fruit. There are other nut butters, too, such as almond or cashew, which do a similar undertaking, albeit usually with a little less protein.

Most people already have a more mundane, and cheaper, alternative in their home. One of the best snacks is actually some cereal and milk, says Cashin. Milk has natural whey protein, and carbohydrate, as well as in the cereal. Some athletes is to be able to refuel with milk. Lots of studies have shown that it is a good source of ga, post-exercise.

Of course, if youre not developing somewhat seriously, it may be that you are by no means struggling to get enough calories in your diet. Rather, it could be the reverse. In which case, scoffing lots of peanut butter surely wont build you any fitter fatter is a possibility. However, if you are doing a lot of exercising and require a boost from somewhere, here is whats on offer 😛 TAGEND

MyProtein , 4.79/ kg


Looks like you would buy it in a chemist. No palm petroleum, salt or sugar. 30 g of protein and 579 calories in 100g. Cheap.

Meridian , 5.49/ kg

No added salt, sugar or oils. 30 g of protein and 579 calories in 100g. Basically identical to MyProtein, but a bit more expensive, so maybe it savor better?

Biona , 5.99/ kg


Organic, if that matters to you. No added sugar or petroleum, but a bit of salt. 26 g of protein and 623 calories in 100g.

WholeEarth , 7/ kg

No added sugar, but some salt and sustainable palm petroleum. 28 g of protein and 643 calories in 100g.

Sun-Pat , 5/ kg


A natural source of protein, they say. 25 g of it and 611 calories in 100g, to be exact. Also information sources of salt, sugar, peanut petroleum and stabiliser E471.

Skippy , 6.60/ kg

Sugar, hydrogenated palm petroleum, salt they put the lot in. In the end, you get a spread with 25 g of protein and 632 calories in 100g.

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