32-year-old England and Great Britain hockey captain, Alex Danson, has notched up more than 100 international goals since her England debut at the age of 16. Here, the talented striker, Olympic gold medallist and Meridian foods ambassador provides an insight into what a typical day in her life looks like.
I train 11 times a week, which includes five 2-hour training sessions with the team on the pitch. Having two major tournaments this year (the Commonwealth Games in Australia and later, the World Cup on home soil in London) means a lot of training and preparation, but it’s something that I enjoy and I embrace the challenge. Since becoming Captain of both England and Great Britain, I don’t feel any pressure but I do feel a sense of pride and I try to really always do the right thing by the team.
Although I train a lot during the week, Sunday is my day off and I love to cycle. I’m spoilt for choice in terms of nice walking and cycling routes as I live in Berkshire, a beautiful part of Britain which I like to explore.
Morning: Breakfast then a gym or pitch session
I normally get up around 7am and head straight down for breakfast which usually includes porridge, Meridian Peanut Butter and a handful of nuts and dried fruit. I can’t start a day without a coffee so this is always first on my get-up list!
I then head off to our training venue at Bisham Abbey where we’ll either have a lifting session for 90 minutes or a 2-hour pitch session. During the lifting session we’ll do key lifts – for example, in the run-up to Rio, our strength programme included power cleans and squats to improve our power and strength.
Sessions on the pitch and in the gym are usually high intensity so it’s important I fuel and hydrate well.
Lunchtime: Eat, admin and catch-up with teammates
We always have a break for lunch. Occasionally, we’ll have team meetings during lunchtime, in which case we take our lunch in. We always prepare our food and bring it to the venue, this way we can ensure we’re eating a high carb and protein meal. Typically, I will eat a Quorn wrap with vegetables and hummus, some fruit and maybe a small bag of popcorn. If I’m still hungry, I’ll eat some oatcakes topped with Hazelnut and Cocoa Meridian spread. If we don’t have a meeting, this is generally a time to catch-up with teammates or quickly get some life admin done!
Afternoon: Pitch session, video analysis and physio
We usually have another pitch session in the afternoon which is why lunch and fuelling well is so essential. We’ll train for two hours and it will be a mix of game play and technical skills practice. My favourite part of training is plyometrics and sprinting, which are important for me as a forward.
I’m normally pretty tired post-training session so eating fairy quickly and getting some protein in is essential. After this session there’s normally the opportunity to use the video analysis suite where we can do some prep on future opposition, see a physio if needed, or head home to put our feet up and recover for the next day!
Evening: Dinner, sofa and early to bed
We rarely train in the evenings with the national team, but we do with our clubs (Alex plays for Clifton Robinsons). If it’s a night in, it’s normally taken up with preparing and eating dinner, then sofa, chill, and an early bed. I always try to fill my plate with lots of vegetables and protein to ensure I’m getting everything I need nutritionally in the day. A veggie and Quorn stir fry is always a favourite for me.
I do love eating out, so if the opportunity presents itself I’m the first to head out and try something new. I think variety in your diet is essential.
Last thing before I go to sleep, I’ll prepare all my food for the next day, do a little bit of yoga and stretching and then crawl into bed exhausted and ready to sleep!
Alex is an ambassador for Meridian Foods, producer of palm oil-free nut butters.