It’s all about managing transitions
Being an ultra athlete is about minding transition time
Coming home from Idaho, having truly enjoyed the Fat Pursuit Workshop, and wanting to continue living in the headspace of adventure, I downloaded and listened to the audiobook, Rusch to Glory, by one of our workshop coaches, Rebecca Rusch. I highly recommend it.
She talks a lot about her life and amazing adventures as an adventure race athlete and then an ultra distance mountain biker. Nicknamed the “Queen of Pain,” her ability to race harder and suffer harder has led to a rich race résumé as an athlete. But when you read her words, or, as in my case with the audiobook, hear her talk about her experiences, or listen to her coaching at the workshop, you realize her strength and courage go way beyond her palmarés.
Everybody will take from this book what they need for where they are in life and their own experience, and I do believe the book challenges us to think about what our next epic quest will be. And also, how will we conquer that epic quest? It doesn’t have to be a bike race. It may be building something at your job, or writing a book, or making a big presentation. To each their own epic.
For me, the quest continues to be excelling at racing my bike and living adventures, a way I express myself in this world, in addition to creating and contributing in my profession. This has always been a challenge, and sometimes I have heard myself say in my mind, “You’re a doctor. What are you thinking of trying to be an athlete?” And, “I just don’t have time to train.” I named that inner negative voice “Reviewer #2,” which does make me laugh at her just a little, and in so doing, the nickname disempowers her as well. Some of those voices originated outside of my head, like when I was earlier in my career, but through the years I realize at various moments I have chosen whether or not I still listen to that negative voice. We manifest what we tell ourselves. And at different times in my life, the voice is louder or softer. During the first year of the pandemic, I let that voice take over as my focus went completely away from riding my bike, impacting my own health in the process. I put it at bay for the most part when I made my first attempt of the Colorado Trail Race in 2021. Then last year as I worked through important transitions in my volunteer work the voice won again… until I traveled to Corsica and rode bikes with friends, which became a pivot point for me, and then later in the summer bought a gravel bike and fell back in love with racing again.
Anyway, back to her book… I give you that context, because I think in her writing, I found a solution to be able to live the life I want professionally and also athletically, as it is how I express myself in the world. The two must coexist.
When doing any sort of ultra race, in addition to amazing skills, one has, aerobic capacity, strength, and tenacity, nutrition, equipment, and a support team. Yet one of the key strategies in the race is to mind your transition time. When you race 24-hour races or 100-mile ultra events, you have to stop briefly to refuel, or pick up water, bottles, restock nutrition, and all of that, and one of the keys in a race is to make sure that that downtime is minimized. You don’t want to waste time in transition, because your competitors may pass you. I experienced the importance of transition time when we raced in the Race Across America, and in every ultra race since, but I don’t know if I was acutely as mindful of it as Rebecca describes she is when she races. What I took away from this is that there certainly is a lot of extra wasted “transition time” in my day-to-day life. When I say “I don’t have time to ____,” how much time do I spend looking at my news app or looking at social media stuff? It turns out that there are definite transition times that could add up to another workout or two, not to mention better mental health with getting off of these extraneous media stimulants.
That’s not to say that downtime is unimportant. It certainly is. But it all gets back to being intentional, and the value of pursuing intentionality.
So with this realization, I’m finding that I can quiet that Reviewer #2 narrative, that I tell myself, and my new mantra of “ be mindful of transitions” well help me stay on course. We choose our priorities.
Do you see any areas of transition time that are holding you back from your goals? How will you make your training plan and race plan?
The other message I took away from her book, is the value of a team, or a “crew van” as I have written about in the past, and her strong relationship with her coaches. So with that I have decided to bring on a coach to help me on this path back to the Colorado Trail Race, and that is a topic for a future post.