How Megan Rapinoe Is Training for the Olympics with Fiancée Sue Bird
"Even though we play different sports, I think especially as a little bit older athletes, you know, we have some of the same ailments."
With two World Cup titles and an Olympic gold medal under her belt, Megan Rapinoe is one of the most decorated American soccer players of all time - and happens to be engaged to one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Sue Bird. And now, the "cross-sport lesbian power couple" who met at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is finally headed to the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics together... well, sort of.
"I don't think we're going to be able to see each other. I think each team will be quite strictly bubbled," Rapinoe tells InStyle. "It's not going to be as enjoyable of an experience for us, but we need to keep everyone safe, including Japanese citizens and all of the organizers and volunteers." (The Olympic Village is somewhat notorious for its parties and hookup scene, but this year, organizers are urging athletes not to mingle or have sex.)
Luckily, the couple has been able to spend time together training. "We have quite a bit of overlap. Even though we play different sports, I think especially as a little bit older athletes, you know, we have some of the same ailments - the lower back hip thing," Rapinoe laughs. (Although you'd never know it from their performance, Rapinoe, 35, and Bird, 40, are among the oldest athletes in their respective leagues.) "It's just nice to have a workout buddy, to break things up."
They also see eye-to-eye in terms of how they fuel up and hydrate. "We're on the same wavelength there, which makes it easy," adds Rapinoe, who has previously credited Bird with helping her to clean up her diet and take her game to the next level. "And the house is stocked full of BodyArmor - Sue is benefiting from the partnership just as I am! The BodyArmor LYTE Berry Punch with coconut water and electrolytes is one of our favorites, especially as it gets so hot - and Tokyo is going to be extremely hot and humid."
Of course, they also have a shared understanding of the unique pressure that comes with training to compete in front of the entire world, while also juggling multiple jobs on top of their full-time gigs as professional athletes (in addition to her BodyArmor partnership, Rapinoe is also a new face for Victoria's Secret, for example). "We can both sort of understand what the other one's going through and motivate the other. You don't have to constantly explain things," Rapinoe says.
To minimize stress and prioritize recovery, Rapinoe has a few go-to self-care strategies. "My sister actually started a CBD company that I've invested in out of Portland called Mendi. They have these amazing CBD bath salts with lavender and eucalyptus - I'm definitely a bath person. Being in the water, I think, is the best thing that you can do for your body probably outside of sleeping," she says. "Sleep, of course, is the most important thing. I try to get as much sleep as possible and I use CBD for sleep as well. So those two things are sort of the foundation of my recovery strategy."
Beyond physical recovery, mentally recovering - especially when you're training during a pandemic for a high-stakes will-they-or-won't-they-happen Olympics - is also key. "It's really nice to kind of calm down after a long day and just take a little time for yourself, mentally and emotionally," she says. "I know for myself, and I can imagine for everyone else during this time throughout the pandemic, it's been really draining, and I think 2021 has been in ways even more difficult than 2020, cause we're kind of trying to get back to normal and do all the normal things, but nothing is normal. So to be able to just take my mind out of that and relax for a little bit is really important."
As for how she makes time for her advocacy work, including the new HBO documentary, LFG, chronicling the United States women's national team record-breaking 2019 World Cup win and their fight for equal pay? "Sometimes things are just too important not to do. Frankly, I wouldn't say I have the time, but for all of us, we just see it as our responsibility," Rapinoe says. "I hope that the documentary is a little insight into just how difficult it is to make the time and how difficult it is to focus on your sport and being the very best that you can while having to [fight for equal pay] and just the toll that it takes mentally and emotionally."
Rapinoe adds that she also hopes people can see themselves in the story. "I think the fight has become so much bigger than just, you know, this women's national soccer team and our fight with that Federation," she says. "I think it's become a sort of mouthpiece or rallying cry for so many other women around the country and around the world who obviously don't have the ability to make a documentary that debuts at Tribeca Film Festival. I hope it continues to shed light on the pervasive and destructive nature of discrimination of all kinds, and hopefully be a voice for women - and maybe open up some other people's eyes along the way."