John Nunn, 38 • Current residence: Bonsall, California
Hometown: Evansville (Harrison High School, class of 1996)
Nunn is a three-time Olympian in the 50-kilometer race walk event: 2004 (26th place), 2012 (43rd place), and 2016 (43rd place).
How did you get into competitive race walking? I got a scholarship to University of Wisconsin-Parkside based off my high school running times. The coach thought I would be able to transition well into the walks if I was willing to give it a try.
Can you provide insight into food you consume, what exercises you do, and what gadgets you use for optimal training? First, I have a horrible sweet tooth. I always have to watch my sweets and hone my self-control. Post-Olympics, I have been a bit out of control. (Editor’s note: Nunn operates a cookie company with his daughter Ella. Check out ellascookieco.com.) When I am training, I eat really healthy. There is not much red meat. I stick with chicken and fish meals with a rice or gluten-free pasta and always have vegetables on the plate. I love sandwiches and usually will make a fun gourmet sandwich for lunch.
When it comes to actual training, I try to get in around 100 miles a week. I use a heart rate monitor and a muscle oxygenation device to monitor what is happening in my body during workouts so I know if I need to tweak the workout as I progress through it. I also sleep in an altitude tent that lets me breathe at an altitude around 8,500 feet. It helps to up my red blood cells and allows me to train with a higher maximum output.
You finished 43rd at the Rio Olympic Games with a time of 4:16:12. How do you feel about your performance? This was not the ending I had hoped for in Rio. I have trained smarter and harder over the past four years than I have ever done before. I felt ready. It was frustrating. The first 30 kilometers, I felt very comfortable and relaxed and was moving at a great pace; then it’s like my gear shift slipped into neutral and wouldn’t shift back into drive. I know a great 50-kilometer race is sitting in me. I don’t want to retire until I can reach in and pull it out.
What does veteran Olympian John Nunn wish he could tell first-time Olympian John Nunn? You don’t have to be so hard on your training if you are willing to train smarter.
When you come back to Evansville, what are some things you enjoy doing? I really enjoy spending time with the friends who are still there. I have been fortunate to travel the world and experience many different environments and cultures, but there is never anything like coming home and seeing friends and catching up on life.