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Michael Phelps

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All athletes want to retire at the top, and that’s exactly what 27-year-old Michael Phelps intends to do over the next fortnight before he hangs up his, er, goggles for good. He told ShortList about the sacrifices he’s made to ensure he goes out with a bang.

Talk us through your average day in training…

I eat around two hours before I hit the pool, and then spend four hours swimming and also building muscles. Then I break for lunch, do some weights and have a run for another two hours.

Is running a big part of your training?

I run a lot. It was something I really started to do intensely before Beijing [2008], and I have really seen the benefits of it.

Do you do other land-based training?

Before Beijing, we concentrated on doing more work on land, and more work with weights, and we have been increasing it since then.

So what’s your gym workout like?

Now it’s very weight-orientated, along with the treadmill. It’s actually really simple – in theory, I could do my gym workout from my garage.

What advice do you have for readers who want to improve their workout?

With weights, don’t let your focus be on lifting as much as you can as quickly as you can. It’s far more important to be lifting weights with the right technique. Take your time, get the amount of reps and technique right, and the weight will follow. It’s taken me five years to be lifting what I am now.

What’s the most extreme training measure you’ve incorporated?

I guess it’s my whole food-consumption thing. Doctors have said that my training and diet has caused my metabolism to completely change. I eat for breakfast more than most people eat in a day; I eat in a day more than what most people eat in three. To actually change the way your metabolism works is pretty extreme.

So could you give us some nutritional tips?

I don’t know how much nutritional advice people want to take from a guy who eats eight-egg omelettes! I eat whatever I want, but that includes a lot of eggs, pasta, cheese and meat. I wouldn’t recommend anybody follow my diet unless they were doing intense daily training.

What’s the most hi-tech piece of equipment you use in training?

It’s probably not considered hi-tech any more, but when I got my first pair of underwater headphones I was in awe. If you try spending four or five hours a day in the pool, you will soon see why.

What music do you listen to on them?

I am the ‘not-cool white guy’ who is a big hop-hop fan. DMX, Eminem, Dr Dre, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Twista… you won’t find me listening to much else apart from those guys.

Do you do any mental preparation to calm pre-race nerves?

Our team has a “train your brain” philosophy. When my goggles filled with water in Beijing, I wouldn’t have been to able to win gold without mental strength. I knew exactly where I was and how many strokes I had left. Training your brain makes nerves a non-issue.

(Image: Rex Features)

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