Not So Secret Training

March 10 — 2015 | Whistler, BC

Sarah's offseason consists of more than snowboarding this winter.

I’ve spent the majority of my winter this year learning to love (and hate) riding the bike to nowhere. It’s been engrained into the inner dimensions of my soul at this point. My relationship with the bike to nowhere really picked up after I made the choice to start training with Monika Marx, after Dylan Wolsky of the Nomads sang her praises to me.  It’s pretty safe to say that most of us are acutely familiar with the weaknesses we have on the bike (and in life) – I wanted to target my weaknesses, specifically for sprints over 5 minutes, and learn how to be better at racing (and having a good time) after 3 hours in the saddle. It’s been quite a journey so far.

It’s pretty easy to complain about the notion of “training” when there’s that entire world of real bike riding to be done out there. There’s this other little notion that a lot of core (especially in Whistler!) mountain bikers share – and that is that training just isn’t cool. I’m pretty sure I’ve been made fun of more than a few times for putting so much energy and time in at the gym, eating as well as I can and riding that wretched bike to nowhere: “why can’t you just have FUN riding your bike?”

All of this time sitting alone in the gym and riding solo (or with willing friends, of which there are a few!), I’ve learned some pretty cool stuff about myself and about trying hard at anything in life. I’ve speculated a lot over the last few months about how events like the upcoming NZ EWS #1 is going to go. I’m still new to this discipline, and I can’t even begin to claim the experience that some of the girls I’ll race with are bringing to the table.  With all of that said (sometimes over and over to myself), here are a few of the things I learned that have made me better at life since I started training this past October:

Pressing re-set on food in the early weeks of training.
I did this back in October/November while being stationed with no travel plans here in Whistler. I said no to eating out for 3 meals a day for a full 31 days. I did bulk cooking sessions on my days off from training, and I adhered to a pretty set list of foods I would/wouldn’t eat (basically only animals from farms – like, with a farmer – and plants from the ground: no sugar, dairy, wheat, legumes or alcohol). I followed this program, but you could use whatever suits you. It changed my attitude about the food I put in my body and highlighted some good practices that I can implement in my day-to-day for training, travelling, riding with my friends and racing.

Work with a coach who has worked with athletes who do what you do.
I’ve adhered to many training programs over the years like anyone serious about a sport would. I’ve had amazing coaches and I’ve been a coach, so I’m pretty particular about what kind of feedback, training, and support program works for me. Monika has had a plan for me since day one, and we’ve stuck to it. What I do on my bike(s) and in the gym varies from month to month, but the focus remains the same, and we watch the same key measures throughout the process.

 

Being organized is key.
There are millions of distractions in life that can derail you from winter training. I try to keep my life ordered with a list of priorities, and then I build each day around them. I set up the times I need to work and perform doing my real job, then I make sure I build my training times around those and I make sure I have time for the most important people in my life. It’s worked out really well so far.

Sometimes you just need to show up and remember why.
Even on days when I’m super beat after weeks of endurance blocks integrated with lifting and more riding, I make a point of showing up to the gym on the days I’ve scheduled into my calendar. The effort always appears after I’ve worked through my private whining/self pity session and I just get on with it. I try to remember what the last few stages feel like at an enduro event – or the last 60 seconds in a downhill race; keeping on point keeps me coming back for more. I always leave the sessions I’m the most reluctant to show up to feeling pretty stoked.


 

Rest like it’s your other job.
This is one I actually really suck at, but not in a bragging, “I’m so fit and it’s just so hard to rest”, kind of way. I tend to get fired up on cool stuff, fun people or rad things to do. Who wants to sleep when you’re off somewhere cool with the best people? I never want to sleep when there’s a better time to be had (classic FOMO), but when I can, I make a point of it. At least 9-10 hours a day is key when I’m in the middle of a training cycle – or I tend to go back to point A (which is where I start sucking at stuff again).

Can I say that following these little pieces of advice is going to be the secret to producing a great result at an Enduro World Series event? Hah…maybe? There are so many factors that go into being the best at any race of any level – and experience, technical skill, fitness, and attitude are only a few of them.  My bottom line: I like to think that all of this training is going to keep me smiling for a way longer time at races and on rides with my friends. That’s why we do anything, right? We do this because it’s fun as hell and we don’t want to stop…so I’m not gonna!

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