Katerina Nash, winner of the recent cyclocross World Cup at the Trek headquarters in Waterloo, Wisconsin, says having fun and keeping a balance in life is the key to staying successful in endurance sports over decades.
Nash, 41, has won world-level races in cross-country skiing, cyclocross, and mountain biking, including appearances in the Olympics for skiing and mountain biking.
Stay Focused, Have Fun
Here are the tips she told Molly about why she’s been able to excel in endurance sports for so long:
Stay Focused on the Prize
Know your goals and keep them simple. You don’t have to be “good” every weekend or every event. Plan out your season or plan for that one event.
That way, when training gets difficult or the weather doesn’t cooperate, you still have that goal to keep you working
Embrace Those ?Eye of the Tiger Moments?
Get after it when you need to. During the long endurance runs or rides, just move. You don’t need to go hard, nor do you really need to think. It’s a great time to listen to podcasts or music, watch a movie while on the trainer or treadmill, or have a long conversation with friends.
But when it’s time to go, whether in your event or interval training, go hard. It’s going to hurt, so push yourself through the challenging times to bring yourself to a higher level.
Accept That You?ll Make Mistakes
You’re going to crash, do something wrong in training, or get hurt. Accept it, and deal as best you can. As I’ve said so many times, we’ve made all the mistakes. From taking a bad line in a cyclocross race to tripping on a root during a trail run, or turtling an oar on the water, you’re going to make mistakes.
When you accept that these are going to happen, you probably won’t freak yourself out. You can stay calm, learn from the mistakes, and grow as a person and as an athlete.
Make Your Years Work for You
Use your experience to your advantage. Most of us are beyond those prime athletic years in our 20s. But if you’ve paid attention to the previous piece of advice about learning from your mistakes, you’ve probably gained a lot of experience. You’ve dialed in your pre-race routine, you know how or what to eat.
Get a coach. I know this seems self-serving, but in past years, when I was building up for nationals or another big event, I’ve hired coaches. Just the ability to not think, to trust someone else to take care of the planning is a great way to focus on your training and recovery
Focus on Health, Not ?Race Weight?
Don’t worry if you have ice cream or an extra whiskey. Don’t worry about carrying some extra pounds. Be healthy – because it helps your overall health – but don’t give up the occasional secret pleasure!
Find Your Balance
Don’t just ride or run. Find something else to balance you. Write. Sing. Hang out with your family. Go to movies. I gave up a lot of fun nights out to race my bike. I don’t regret those nights, but I sure wish I had stayed out later!
I hope the themes here are getting clear. Nash is talking about finding a balance in all things. Don’t binge on lots of whiskey every night, but enjoy a glass. Don’t spend all your time training, but get out there and do the work.
Love Your Sport
I may love this one the best. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to stop riding because my head got too serious or because of health problems. But I just love to ride my bike. I love to get out and run on trails.
Nash is saying that you’ve got to love your sport, whatever it is. Be passionate and have fun.
It’s All About Balance
Most of these come down to balance: stay balanced with food, drink, and training.
And have fun. Always just love what you’re doing. Endurance sports are too damn hard to not enjoy yourself.
At Simple Endurance Coaching, we have taken ourselves way too seriously, way too often. But we’re at a point where we keep training balanced and fun.
For our clients, we build in fun days, off days, hard as hell days, and always working toward your event goal.