Sabrina Kolker

Vancouver-born Kolker has been competing in women’s rowing in the Women’s Eight for 8 years. Her athletic accomplishments include a fifth place finish in the women’s 8 at the 2006 World Rowing Championships in Eton, England, seventh place at the women’s 8 at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and 2004 Champion at the Canadian Monster Erg in Victoria, B.C.

What is your training schedule like week-by-week?

My training schedule varies depending on the time of the year (whether we’re gearing up for a major competition or we are in winter training). Currently with the World Championships about a month and a half away we are training 10 sessions a week on the water. We practice on the water once on Mondays, twice on Tuesdays, once on Wednesdays, twice on Thursdays, once on Fridays, twice on Saturdays and once on Sundays. On days with only one practice on the water we are encouraged to cross train. On these days I’ll hop on my road bike for about an hour. Also everyday I do core work, stretching and/or yoga.

What advice could you give an "average" person looking to improve their lagging fitness routine?

I think the most important part about making a workout "your own" is to find an activity you enjoy doing. Also, try to surround yourself with people that can motivate you and give you that extra lift when you’re not feeling totally up for a workout. Whether it’s running, strength training, tennis or swimming, try not to do the same workout every day. Mix it up, attempt a new route when you go for a run, throw in some hills when you are on the bike. Easy adjustments that will yield better results! If you can’t find a training buddy, then work-out with your favourite playlist. Music is a great motivator for me, too!

I think when you’re training, it is so important to set goals. They don’t have to be pie-in-the-sky goals, but ones that you personally feel as though you can achieve. I always set goals for myself and ones I’d like for our team to accomplish. Sure, they don’t always happen but they do help me stay focused on the task at hand.

What are some tips and tricks when it comes to nutrition?

I eat 6 smalls meals a day and that works for me. Also, I try not to eat after 8pm as I hate going to sleep on a full stomach.

* My favorite breakfast food is an egg white omelette stuffed with tons of veggies, cheese with 2 pieces of brown toast.The difference of nutritional value in whole wheat versus white bread products is amazing and will help your workouts, too. Always try and cook whole wheat-pastas, breads and cereals and try to avoid anything overly processed or considered a simple carbohydrate ("White" bread, crackers, snacks etc.).

* It is imperative that after a workout, make sure you eat something to recover. Our nutritionist advises us that the best recovery food after a workout is chocolate milk. Who knew! Apparently it has the perfect combination of protein, fats and carbohydrates for a proper post-workout recovery, plus it is delicious. Another favourite snack of mine is a smoothie and they’re so easy to make: Frozen strawberries, 1 orange, 1 banana, skim milk and yogurt. It’s important to fill up on protein, but remember that carbohydrates are not your worst enemy. They help give you fuel and are a great energy source. If you’re looking for a quick snack before a workout, eat a banana. One of my favourites!

Karen Furneaux

Karen Furneaux, Canada’s leading female spring kayaker, is a two-time World Champion and a two-time Olympian. A native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Karen began kayaking at the age of 12.

What is your training schedule like week-by-week?

I paddle 4 hours a day, one morning and one afternoon session. Between those work-outs I am either running of lifting weights. My training is quite intensive with interval sessions and lactate tolerance sessions. In the wintertime, I swim, cross-country skin and weight-train. As well, I paddle in Florida starting early spring.

What advice could you give an "average" person looking to improve their lagging fitness routine?

Warm up properly with slow movements and then more active movements to get the blood flowing. Stretching afterward is key or try yoga. In kayaking we use a lot of core muscles so work on the stability ball is great for that as well as back health. Use a health care professional like a sport chiropractor or massage therapist who specializes in sport work. As well, osteopathy is great for working through any pain and injury. Anyone can incorporate interval training into their workout programs and they can train like a high level international athlete and receive all the great benefits of cardiovascular health and muscular strength gains in power and endurance. One of my favourite interval workouts is when you do sets of 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50-second "bursts" of activity. This could be squats, jumping jacks, push-ups, lunges or anything that really elevates your heart rate. In-between these sets you only get 1-minute rest and then you start again. Repeat this 3 times in total. It is a great variety to a regular routine and it will keep you interested. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water!

I attribute my motivation and success to having my dream so clearly laid out in front of me. Every day I arrive to paddle I always think of standing on the Olympic podium. To be motivated each and every day you need to find a reason and a passion.

What are some tips and tricks when it comes to nutrition?

It’s a very simple philosophy: Drink tons of water. I drink around 3-4 litres a day.

* Eat whole grains with each meal and fresh vegetables with loads of dark greens and bright colours (think Spinach, broccoli, kale, red peppers and avocados).

* Try fruit for dessert and eat only those varieties that are in-season. The taste is so much better.

* Don’t be afraid to splurge at dinner, just make sure you did a big workout during that day. The guilt-factor decreases tremendously.

* Make your own salad dressings. It is the easiest way to save calories.

* Never, ever skip meals.