(PCM) The Olympic swimmer didn’t take a day off for six years leading into the 2004 Athens Games, and stepped his training up a notch for the 2008 Beijing Games, during which he smashed Olympic records and brought home 8 gold medals.
And then, he stopped. Michael Phelps abandoned his intense training, gained 25 pounds and lost his motivation.
In a revealing interview with Details Magazine, Phelps talks about what it was like doing “literally nothing,” and how he got back on track to storm full-force ahead into London.
On taking off after Beijing in 2008:
“At that point, I just didn’t have anything. It was weird going from the highest of the high, the biggest point of your life—winning eight gold medals—and then saying, ‘All right, where do I go from here?’ I wasn’t motivated. I did nothing, literally nothing, for a long time. I gained 25 pounds. A friend of mine and I were playing football on the beach in Miami, and somebody got a picture of us and put it all over the place. And he’s like, ‘Bro, you gotta start working out, man. You are fat.’”
“So I started going through the motions again. I would go back for a week or two and then stop. I’d show up for dry-land practice and then just sneak out the back door so nobody saw me. I was watching Rocky II the other day—the one where he’s fighting Apollo for the second time and he’s just going through the motions. It reminded me of how I was.”
How he brought the motivation back:
“I realized that I probably hadn’t reached my full potential. There was still more in the tank. As I come to closure on my career, am I going to look back in 20 years and say, ‘What if?’ That’s something I don’t want. This is it. I’ve always said I wouldn’t swim past 30. I don’t want to be that guy who’s hanging on, but I want to reach my max potential. I don’t care how much pain I have to go through or the sacrifices I have to make. I’ll get it.”
And as far as the rumored 12,000 calorie-per-day diet? Not true, says Phelps.
“People make a big deal out of what I eat, but it’s not that crazy. I had a three-egg omelet and three pieces of French toast and coffee this morning. For recovery, I think it’s a big deal to eat within a half-hour after you exercise. Otherwise I just try to put carbs into my system before I swim and then load up on the protein after. I don’t count calories. Whether it’s Sour Patch Kids or Reese’s or a bag of chips, if I feel like eating it, I’m going to eat it.”
Read the full interview at Details.com
<>Photo CreditL David Fisher / Rex USA / courtesy Everett Collection, 2008 Beijing