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STACK is privileged to team up with elite athletes all across the globe. We get the lowdown on the latest trends in training, nutrition and style, and we deliver this exclusive content directly to you. Today, we bring you part two of our interview with Olympic gold medal rower Susan Francia.
In part one of the interview, Francia was in New Zealand gearing up to defend her world championship title in the women’s pair division. She and teammate Erin Cafaro turned in one of the most spectacular performances of the weekend, mounting a furious comeback in the final 300 meters to capture the bronze medal.
STACK: Tell us about some of the training you do throughout the course of the year.
Susan Francia: I love being outdoors, so I do a lot of cross training. I go mountain biking through the trails, swimming in the ocean. [Francia spends part of the year at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.] When you’re rowing twice a day every day, you need a mental break.
STACK: How does your training change as you get closer to an event such as the World Championships?
SF: There are no more cross training adventures. It’s strictly in the boat, doing the most we can as a team. We’re doing more race-intensity practice. Right now I’m doing some rowing and then also some cycling and lifting.
STACK: How do you fuel your body during these rigorous training sessions?
SF: Our coach switched our practice schedule some time back, so we had two morning practices. After the first one, we’d always go to Starbucks, and I would have a coffee and a muffin. I was consuming way too much sugar immediately after the first workout. I would get to the next practice and feel absolutely terrible. I would have a little bit of energy from what I had eaten, but then I would just crash really hard.
STACK: How has the fueling changed since you kicked the post-workout visits to Starbucks?
SF: I really try to eat balanced meals and limit my sugar, because it peaks my blood sugar level, which causes me to crash hard. So I really try to eat protein. I started bringing my own food and it was much better. I switched to turkey breast sandwiches with lettuce and tomato.
STACK: What are some must-have items you keep in your fridge at all times?
SF: I love to grill steak and chicken. For my carbs, I like a variety of different colors of vegetables, such as peppers, peas and spinach. I love Peanut M&Ms, but at least I try to have a good meal before I eat them.
STACK: You shared your early rowing experiences and how you first got started with the sport. What advice do you have for young athletes who may be interested in rowing?
SF: Have fun. I feel like there’s pressure from coaches and parents, and sometimes kids forget they’re there to be active and have fun. Like me, I wasn’t the best at it, but I loved being part of the team. I also think it’s one of the great college opportunities, because with Title IX, it has helped so many girls get into great schools and further their rowing careers.
Photo: Courtesy of Boathouse Sports