Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Life

It is amazing how training and racing at a high level completely consumes a person's life. As I've mentioned earlier, every day revolves around 3 simple, but yet very crucial, tasks: eating, training and recovery. Everything else will have to "fill in the gaps" and, needless to say, the gaps are very, very small. This requires quite a large sacrifice, both on my behalf and for everyone else that are close to me. Without proper support, both at home and as a rider, it becomes very difficult to accomplish the required tasks, season after season. In a sport where results come after years and years of hard training and racing, motivation can become hard. Setting tangible short term goals as well as long term goals is a must. This provides me with something to work towards, rather then aimlessly trying to suffer through long, cold wet rides or very hard intervals, over and over again. I've tried to explain what motivates me in a previous post: http://roadrace1.blogspot.com/2005/11/rest-day.html But, what do I do to relax? Over the last few years we have all heard about the dangers of physical "over-training". We don't talk about mental "over-training" / burnout as much, but I think we should. Mental burnout will result in us not performing as well in training (not being able to hold the intensity during intervals and the lenght on long rides). I've become much better at "switching off" cycling when I relax. This has allowed me to avoid mental burn-out and therefore help me to sustain the high volumes of training. Since riding is more of a job then a "recreational activity", it can be hard for me to get on the bike every day. What I do after training helps me recharge not only my physical being, but also my mental state. So, what do I do? Well, writing this blog has actually become a nice way to relax. Right now I'm sitting in front of the fireplace, writing and watching "The Smurfs", yes the cartoon about the little blue guys. I'm a big fan of the old, classic cartoons. I really don't like all the new stuff that is being played. I try to spend as much time as possible with my wife, we live a pretty quiet and some might say dull life, but we are happy. I'm very happy going out for dinner with her or watching a movie. I'm a big movie fan, but it has to be in the theater. As I've said earlier, the outdoor plays a very, very significant part of my life. It always has. For the people that know my actual identity, I'm sure you can attest to this. I'm convinced that without the love I have for the outdoors, I would not be able to perform at the level I'm at. I can say that because one of my big motivators for all the training is the joy I get from running, skiing, hiking or cycling is the simple fact that I try and make it a "nature experience" every time. Will I see deer today? Maybe a moose, elk etc? This love for the outdoors also provided me with a solid base of training from an early age. This training has allowed me to handle the current high volumes of training that I need to sustain these days. So, to relax I often take the dogs out hiking or during the hunting season I'm always looking for an oportunity to hunt upland game (birds / rabbit), deer, raindeer etc. These week-long trips through the forests and mountains also provide me with a great base-training. It certainly is just as good as "organized" base-training. But relaxing sometimes means just kicking back with a good book. I love to read and if I'm going to sit or lay down, my favourite thing to do is read. I'm active in voicing my concern about the current state of the youth. The way kids grow up these days should be of concern to everyone. The complete lack of phyiscal activity, poor eating habits etc will create a strain on society in the coming years. I've also addressed this in a previous post: http://roadrace1.blogspot.com/2005/11/rest-day.html We can still turn around this trend, but it means changing everything from what the kids eat and learn in school to how parents behave. Phyiscal activity in school is a big joke. The volume of PE per week needs to increase, lots. The food and drinks available in most public school are terrible. And what about what happens before and after school? How many kids eat a simple, healthy breakfast? And what about a good home-cooked meal after school? Parents needs to encourage physical activity in the kids. Soccer-practice twice a week does not cut it. It is proven that activities organized by adults leads to children being inactive 80% of the time. We need to encourage / teach children about the outdoor. Fishing, hiking, camping and hunting - anything that can get them out of the house and away from the Playstation and McDonalds burger. All while creating a fun, exciting atmosphere. So this is something that I enjoy particpating in and it gives me a chance to "forget" about cycling for a while. And finally, I'm a bit of an exotic animal freak, I love the world of exotic animals and try to learn as much as I can about it. As a side-note - Peder Pedersen, President of the Danish Cycling Union made a comment today regarding the Roberto Heras case that I agree 100% with. He said that he wished athletes that are caught cheating would stop seeding doubt about the testing procedures and just face the facts - they got caught. When riders like Heras start to "bash" the doping testing procedures he is hurting our sport even more. So, Roberto: It's time to face the music.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations for the mental and physical strength required for such an effort.I read your blog every day and i admire you for your courage and your point of view.
Do you participate (later in season) in any kind of racing?Because only the training is not enough.You have to race , because i think the "racing kilometres" are very crucial to performance generally.If you take a look at the "pros" early season racing is a kind of preparation for them.Are you a member of a team or are you planning to join in in the future.I wish you many well paced kilometres and good mental and physical health.

16:58  
Blogger mags said...

Thank you very much for the kind words and support. I appreciate it!
And thank you for reading what I write, I hope it's somewhat interesting. :) Usually my season ends in September. I'm a 100% "roadie" and do not do any mountain bike riding (for competition) or any cyclo-cross. So starting October, going through March - I'm strictly training. The early season races start in March/April and I usually use them as training as well. My big season goals usually fall in July. Everything leading up to that is either "C" or "B" races. I'll address my specific plan for the 2006 season later this year. This time of year, training is more than enough. I have no need for any more races this year, the goal now is to build for the coming 2006 season. I've got several training camps in warmer climate coming up, of course. Although there are no races until March/April, I have no problem training at race-pace when that is required (later in the build-up). I do race for a team, at a fairly high level. But for obvious reasons, I would like to keep my and my team's identity hidden. It allowes me to comment on things I shouldn't otherwise...

22:18  
Blogger Tim Jackson- Masi Guy said...

Mags,

Excellent post. I can remember many years of the same focus as I attempted to "make it".

I'll be wishing you well this year from this side of the pond.

17:09  
Blogger mags said...

Tim,

Thank you very much for the encouragement. I appreciate it greatly. :)

22:25  
Blogger ashwinearl said...

Fascinating reading! I will definintely check in on your BLOG for my daily dose of inspiration. Sometimes just reading about someone else who sacrifices everything for a dream helps me motivate to train for my own little dream.

12:34  
Blogger mags said...

Hi,

Thank you very much for the kinds words. I really apreciate it and it motivates me to continue writing this blog. When I started writing it, I wasn't sure if people would like to read it. You are right - I too find inspiration in other athletes' "ups and downs". I hope you reach your goal as well and even if you don't - don't forget that sometimes it's not about getting there, but the journey you took trying. As a side-note, I actually don't view my decisions and life-style as a "sacrifice". Many people ask me how I can give up things such as late nights out, beer, bad food etc etc. I don't see it that way, I'm very grateful that I can do what I want to do and get paid for it. For me, I wouldn't want any other life. Of course, some days are harder then others, but everyone has those. Full time athlete or not. I view myself as lucky, most of the time. :)

13:34  

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