Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Eat to Win; Conrad Williams Tells Bella Blissett What He Hopes Will Fuel Him to Victory in the 400m Hurdles

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Eat to Win; Conrad Williams Tells Bella Blissett What He Hopes Will Fuel Him to Victory in the 400m Hurdles

Article excerpt

Byline: Bella Blissett

HE'S six foot, weighs 76kg and eats around 31,500 calories of food a week (4,500 per day). Over the past eight years, Conrad Williams has honed the kind of lean but explosively powerful body that leaves competitors in the 400m and 4x400m relay races trailing.

At 30, he already has two silvers from the 2009 World Championships and 2010 European Championships in a trophy cabinet at home. And with former Olympic gold medalist Linford Christie as his head trainer, he's got his sights firmly set on this year's Games. Meantime, there's a lot more work -- and even more eating -- to be done.

"To be the best at the 400m, you need to have the acceleration of a 100m sprinter but still to be lean enough to carry yourself over a longer distance. I eat carbohydrates every few hours for energy and have plenty of protein to aid muscle recovery between training sessions," says Williams, who eats almost twice as much as the average man on a daily basis.

By 8am, he's up and showered in the Lewisham home he shares with his partner and two-year-old baby. He'll dig into a huge bowl of porridge with fruit -- and that's just for starters. Over the course of an hour he'll eat up to four slices of toast and peanut butter and a few fig rolls -- all washed down with an isotonic drink to optimise his hydration levels before training begins.

More isotonic drinks and snacks sustain him through a warm-up and drills session, ("skips", "high knees". "strides" and "arm circles") and a punishing stint of running 200m distances at full throttle with 10-minute rest periods between each. Then it's some good old-fashioned stomach crunches.

"It's essential that I maintain a strong core," says Williams. "In the last 80 to 90 metres of the race, when the rest of the body starts to tire, it's the abdominals that hold the body in an upright position and carry you over the finish line."

His hamstrings -- which propel him throughout the race -- are next on the training hit list. Yet not before a hefty lunch of rice (he buys 5kg bags), vegetables and a whole chicken.

A couple more of his favourite fig rolls follow to prepare him for an evening session of Pilates using a Swiss ball and plyometric training (such as hurdling and box jumps) to enhance the elasticity of his hamstrings. Generating maximum leg speed means he needs to skim, not pound, the track -- almost like flying.

Occasionally he'll DJ at friends' parties or go out in Brixton but he hasn't had a holiday in years. Alcohol is vetoed, as are late nights, in a total commitment to his daily training schedule.

It's certainly not the life he expected to have when he left Jamaica to live with his mother and older brother in London at the age of 14. He played on the basketball team at Blackheath Bluecoat school before working as an ice cream seller and a youth worker. …

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