Ever wondered what a day in the life of an ex-olympian looks like? We (virtually) caught up with long-jump legend, Greg Rutherford to discus life post competing, embracing fatherhood and what a health scare taught him.
Greg, you’re a father of two boys and a girl on the way, an Olympic gold medallist, master chef winner and you’ve also even been awarded an MBE, all this at the grand old age of just 34, it’s very impressive. What stands out as some of the greatest moments in your life?
Ha, thank you! My children obviously come top of the list; it was always incredibly important for me to become a dad, it’s something I dreamed of for a long time and really looked forward to. Having my eldest son Milo run down the track in my last ever competition was really special and it’ll be amazing to show him photos when he’s older. Then, of course, winning gold in 2012 – the fact it was a home games just made it all the more amazing and it still feels surreal to look back on it all. I’ve been really fortunate that from my career has come some very special opportunities too like attempting to swim the channel and trying my hand at some top-level cooking!
Having recently retired from athletics, what do you miss the most?
I guess what I miss most is the feeling you get when you’re in the stadium and all eyes are on you, there’s just nothing like it. It’s such a buzz and such an incredible thing I got to experience. Knowing I probably won’t get that again is a little bit sad, but I treasure the memories of it. The travel was also incredible and meeting so many new people. It’s a brilliant way to learn about culture and make friends.
And what have you happily let go of?
Being away from my family for long periods of time and missing important moments I won’t get back.
When you were growing up was sport always part of your life?
Absolutely. I was always doing something active whether it was skiing, team sports like football or later on, athletics. I’m really outdoorsy and don’t like to be sat down for too long so I think it’s just always been my go-to. I wasn’t particularly academic, more of the class clown. Sports were a great way for me to focus and show I had the potential for something.
What about your food choices, how has this evolved over the years, from you growing up as a young athlete to now that you are a retired Olympian?
I sometimes look back at my old training diaries and find what I thought to be ‘good fuel’ hilarious, I had no idea! It wasn’t until I got a little more serious and had a better coach (Dan Pfaff) that I realised the importance of what we put into our bodies and how they can contribute to our performances. I had an ordinary upbringing so while all my meals were healthy and home-cooked, it wasn’t anything like it is now where there seems to be a real knowledge of healthy eating or fads slipping in and out. I used to be pretty strict while I was an active athlete and wouldn’t necessarily restrict myself but would certainly remove things like sugar, alcohol, too many carbs etc. I could always still enjoy food and treat myself though. And these days I do that all the more frequently!
What are some fave family meals in the Rutherford household?
For me and the boys, it’s definitely something meat or seafood-based – I love, particularly in the summer, making my own beef burgers on the BBQ and it’s something my friends have come to expect when they visit! Roast dinners I really take pride in and my eldest son Milo has always found it fun to pick out his own fish to cook together so that’s always a favourite too. My other half is pretty much a vegetarian, so she tends to have alternative dishes to what the rest of us tuck in to. She’s really keen for our children to try everything at least once and eat a good variety of food.
What’s your all-time favourite meal?
As a treat, because I don’t have it very often, I love a wild Alaska salmon Wellington. You can’t beat it!
Is the source of where your meat and fish come from something that is important to you?
Very much so. I’ve always been keen to buy my meat as locally as possible
– so we go to a butcher’s just up the road. When it comes to buying fish, the origin is really important to me, so I like to buy Alaska seafood as it is naturally sourced and sustainably caught. I’m quite fussy when it comes to the quality of the food, I take on board.
What does a day in the life of Greg Rutherford look like these days?
It mainly revolves around making sure I’m on time for the school run! In all honesty, it’s great to be around for the kids more and enjoy just being a dad; if I’m not doing that then working from home in some capacity, training in the home gym or working out with my friend (who’s also an ex long jumper and now PT Jermaine Olasan). No two days are the same and there’s always exciting projects going on which I really like. Routine’s all well and good but it’s fun to dip my toe in lots of stuff!
Do you still remain very active?
Yes, I’d say so. I try to train at least 4/5 times a week in all manner of ways; cardio, weights, running, dog walks, mountain biking. It’s something which brings me enjoyment so the enthusiasm is still there.
We’ve read that whilst you were still in training your body took quite a beating, how did you help aid your recovery between each training session?
I was lucky enough to have the help of very skilled physios (and surgeons!) but lots of the recovery was also down to making sure I was eating healthy snacks rather than gorging on sugary stuff (there was always tins of salmon laying around that I’d work my way through!), getting lots of rest (easier said than done with kids) and gentle exercises to keep everything ticking over.
You recently discovered a lump in your testicles, which you have thankfully since discovered is a cyst. What did you learn from that experience?
Just that it’s ok to look after yourself. I think it’s human nature to brush things off and not read into aches, pains and symptoms too much when we’re still quite young. I guess it’s a sign of resilience but it’s also an awful idea when really, you just shouldn’t let things fester and worry you. I think this whole year made a lot of people rethink how they look after themselves, what they eat and how much they enjoy getting outside.