We have all heard that voice.
It usually starts out as a whisper at the beginning of a tough workout, trying politely to negotiate terms or retreat all together. It gets frustrated at the end of the warmup when it realizes it is being ignored. Its tone becomes stern and volume increases to a yell as you take up the pace or load up the barbell.
Your muscles have no idea what is in store for them, but the voice in your head knows the ensuing perils of things to come. It begs: “We have had a long day,” “It’s not worth it,” or “What’s it all for?” It wants to throw in the towel, go home, and take a nap.
It usually isn’t hard to get past the first set of the session, whether it be smashing weights, cranking the pedals, or chasing pavement. But this is the critical time in the workout. Quitters listen to the voice and give in; champions know it’s going to hurt and drown the voice out.
The battle continues as your heart pumps faster and sweaty fingers curl into fists. Your nostrils flair open, drawing in more air, and sweat drips from furrowed brows.
You’ve angered this voice that sits in silence most of the day, content with the comfort zone of normal activities. It thinks it knows best, and it now demands concession.
But it doesn’t know best. You know this deep down, and you know the only way to achieve your goals is to squelch the screaming from the voice and ignore its commands to slow down or to leave that 2.5 plate off the bar.
Setting these goals was easy when the voice was quiet, or asleep, or speaking to someone else; pushing through requires focus and passion, but now the voice’s white flag waves viciously as you can almost hear the tearing of hamstring sinews at the bottom of a heavy squat.
Starting the second lap of your last 1600 your vision blurs and your eyes roll to the back of your skull. You can almost see the thought of quitting go by the front of your brain.
You’ve been there before and it doesn’t get easier, but ignoring this voice is an essential part of getting better and faster. Your passion is a critical silencer of this voice that begs you to stay in your comfort zone, and the right tools to power your passion makes the silencing a little easier.
Sometimes the voice of complacency grabs a hold of your earlobe and loudly screams straight down into you, but the X2’s always seem to yell: “Keep going!” a little louder.
It seems like with just a blink of an eye, summer is over (which, as a professional ski mountaineer, I’m not too sad about). I strive to be balanced as an outdoorswoman, and pushing myself in the summertime makes me appreciate winter even more.
Looking back, here are my top ten highlights from summer 2016.
10: Road Biking a Century.
Riding my bike for 100 miles was one of my big goals this summer. And the way I completed the goal was unintentional – I was on a two week road trip across the Canadian Rockies, equipped with road bikes, climbing and camping gear. On Canada Day, we were staying in Canmore, and I suggested we ride our bikes to Lake Louise for lunch. I did a quick look on the map to determine the mileage. I didn’t look long because I was eager to get going, but I thought the ride was around 40 miles one way (so 80 miles total). We set out on one of the most beautiful stretches of mountainous road I’ve ever seen, starting with a bike path and then going on to a two way highway. In the forest, we saw a grizzly bear. It was my first grizzly bear sighting, and I was thrilled to see it while on this epic ride! After 50 miles, we still had a little ways to get to the Lake. It turned out to be a 109 mile road bike ride. And I enjoyed every moment of it. Road biking reminds me not to fear the past or present, but to focus on the present moment.
9: Getting back on the sharp end after breaking my foot
In fall 2015, I broke a small bone on the ball of my foot. I was sidelined from climbing for awhile, and it was hard to deal with the feelings of inadequacy. One of the highlights of my summer was getting back on the sharp end of the rope after the injury. Injuries can be so difficult to deal with, it’s important to celebrate the progress and healing instead of dwelling on the setbacks.
8: Climbing Mt. Athabasca
Climbing Mt. Athabasca in Canada A fantastic outing on rock, snow and ice through Canada’s amazing glaciated terrain. Athabasca delivered!
7: The Timpanogos Traverse Mt.
Timpanogos is a huge mountain that lies just south of my Salt Lake City, UT home along the Wasatch front. It’s more than just a summit, it’s a massif with several of the highest peaks in the Wasatch range along it’s summit ridge. In August, I ran from the North summit to the main summit and down the Timpooneke trail. I love moving fast along a mountain top, and the Timp traverse was one of my favorite objectives of the summer.
6: Backpacking in the Sierras
In late August, I met up with photographer Meg Haywood Sullivan to do a 4 –day 3-night backpacking trip in Yosemite National Park. Backpacking is hard work, and it reminded me how much I love the challenge of surviving in the alpine with just the contents of my backpack.
5: Attending the first Wild Women’s Project in the San Juans of Colorado
In July, I visited a high backcountry hut in Colorado with a group of 16 of the outdoor industry’s most influential ladies – pro mountain bikers, trail runners, backpackers and environmental activists. It was like summer camp for grown up women, complete with s’mores, arts and crafts and yoga. I loved visiting the Opus hut and was so inspired by all the new personalities and mountain terrain.
4: Speaking up for Bear’s Ears
In mid-July, I attended a public hearing hosted by Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel in Bluff, UT about the Bear’s Ears area, and spoke up, urging for permanent protection of this beautiful area. I visited Mexican Hat, UT, Valley of the Gods, and Gooseneck State Park during the trip, and fell more deeply in love with this part of Southeastern Utah. Attending the public hearing was a way to learn more about all the diverse interests in the land, and it was an experience I will never forget.
3: Bugaboo Spire
This year’s summer solstice also happened to fall during a full moon, and we planned to be on Bugaboo Spire during that time. It was also the 100 year anniversary of the first ascent of the Kain Route, which is the route we attempted. The Bugaboos had had an abnormally warm spring, so climbing had been in good condition in the weeks leading up to our trip. Right before we got there, it snowed three feet and buried the route. Instead of cancelling the trip, we decided to go up anyway. It was slow going through the snow and rock, and we didn’t summit, but we had the whole park to ourselves, and spent the entire day experiencing the mountain in all its glory. Needless to say, I can’t wait to go back to the Bugaboos!
2: Taking my two year old nephew to the climbing gym
When my nephew, Peter, came to visit, he showed interest in climbing up and down a ladder in my mom and dad’s library. To encourage him further, I took him to the climbing gym. It was challenging teaching a two year old how to climb, but I’m delighted to pass my love of climbing on to the next generation.
1: Overcoming my fear of mountain biking and getting back into the sport
When I first moved to Utah fifteen years ago, I spent a lot of time trying to learn how to mountain bike. Maybe it was partly due to not having a properly fitting mountain bike, but I fell all the time, and eventually quit. This summer, I decided to pick it back up to round out my summer training repertoire. Being so much higher off the trail, combined with the speed and exposure, has always terrified me, but I went to confront my fear, and had a ball doing it. Sometimes it’s good to revisit those things that scare you.
That concludes my summer recap! I’m grateful to be able to participate in so many different mountain sports – I find that variety is the best thing to preventing a plateau in my training!
We all want to have a greater ability to enjoy the things in life that we are passionate about. Most of us have some level of passion for fitness, but more than just having a passion for fitness, being fit can enhance our ability to enjoy other areas of our life that we are passionate about.
I’ve seen people’s lives transform and improve dramatically as a result of becoming fit. Do you want to enjoy your family, friends, and community more? Then get fit!
One of the biggest benefits of becoming fit is confidence and a greater ability to handle our lives. Having a greater level of confidence in yourself and your abilities directly transfers to an increased ability to pursue the things we love in life. No one ever said I wish I wasn’t fit, but many have said they wished they were in better shape, and how they could do more if they were.
Having a passion for fitness doesn’t mean you have to be a professional athlete or even compete in a sport necessarily. It just means you are passionate about leading the best life that you can, and understanding that having the freedom to move your body brings greater ability to enjoy all the good things in life.
We are physical by nature. Our bodies are meant to move. By design our bodies are meant to be pushed, to create locomotion, to get stronger, and that physical strength enhances every other aspect of our lives.
The passion for fitness and how being fit and healthy improves our lives can be traced back to the time of the ancient Greeks and probably beyond that even. What was the first Olympics other than a display of the love for being fit.
The Greek philosopher Socrates said it perfectly when he said:
“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.”
I couldn’t say it any better than that. “It’s a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the BEAUTY and STRENGTH of which his body is capable.” That’s passion right there!
Find a way to make becoming fit and strong a passion in your life. Get involved in something physically challenging. That could be going to the gym, running a 5k, or a marathon. Maybe you decided you are going to climb the highest mountain near you. There are countless ways to challenge yourself physically. Don’t sit on the sidelines. I challenge all of us to get up and move on a daily basis.
Find what powers your passion for fitness, and let that power drive you to achieve greater happiness in your life.
As a Professional Athlete and Business Owner, I find myself dissecting situations all the time. What went wrong? What went right? How can I get better? The number one thing I can attribute to my successes has been a willingness to try. Without a playful curiosity with the unknown, we’d be frozen in stagnation. (e.g. how will the race go; what happens if I try this with my training; what will this person say about my proposal, etc)
There are two ways that people fail:
1. Giving up before giving it a try.
2. Looking for the win in the wrong place.
Number one has always been easy for me, but number two is something I have had to make a conscious mind shift and train myself to do.
1. Giving up before giving it a try
To achieve anything meaningful in our lives, we set goals. Maybe we want to get a promotion at work, run a faster 10k, lose weight, or finish our first mountain bike race. When we set goals, the goals are important to us and we get attached to the outcome. What happens if we don’t reach that outcome? Fear claws our vulnerabilities and we start to worry what people will think; maybe we weren’t “cut out” to do this; maybe we’ll never get there. These concerns and excuses are all a fear of the unknown. Sometimes, we get so paralyzed by some of our dreams that we won’t even attempt to reach them. Our limits are often self-imposed due to a lack of confidence. I’ve been there in many different areas of my life. The best reward is proving yourself wrong. It’s not always comfortable to push our limits, but that stretch zone makes us capable of so much more in our lives.
Ten years ago, the dream of becoming a pro mountain biker seemed impossible but through hard work, it happened. If you told me 5 years ago that I would be a World Champion in endurance mountain biking, that I could go off a 6’ jump on my bike, or that I would race in over 20 countries, I would have laughed in your face and said, “yeah right!” The stretch zone will surprise you and show you that you are capable of more than you think.
The point: the more you do, the more you believe you can do. Each time you stretch yourself, each time you grow just a little bit, your frame of reference expands a little more. Psychologist Abraham Maslow believed that what brings us satisfaction and happiness as human beings is to strive to reach our potential. That’s why when we aren’t go-getting, we feel like something is missing and we are looking for inspiration.
“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.”
2. Looking for the win in the wrong place.
There are two main intimidating parts of a big goal: the time it takes to get there and getting started.
The second part of overcoming failure is redefining your win. What happens along the way when you fail? If you are truly intent on a growth, you will have letdowns along the way. Failure is only permanent if you allow it to be. How do you survive failure? It lies in within your focus. An example is my last race. It was a big goal of mine to win but when race day came, I had no legs and despite my best efforts, I finished in a lackluster 5th place. I was irritated because I knew I was capable of so much more, but I didn’t let it ruin my day. Instead of focusing on where I should be, I chose to look at things that I was doing well. It was pouring rain and I had been working on slippery, technical riding. For the first time ever, I felt confident and enjoyed the sketchy, slick descents. How else can you soften the blow of failure? Always do your best. Your best on one day may be different than your best on another day, but that is okay. With each challenging experience, it gives you something to fall back on the next time it gets hard. How many times have we thought, “Well I survived [x], I can get through this.” Adversity is good. It’s what makes us stronger.
Our perception is our reality. The goal should be to grow and get better, not to be perfect every time.
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
Lately, I’ve been discovering the joys of road biking around my home of Salt Lake City, UT. I’ve never been a serious road biker and it’s a whole new world to me that I didn’t fully understand until immersing myself in the sport. Now, I’m hooked and I want to encourage everyone to try it out! Before I got my own bike, I demoed one from a bike shop to get a sense of it. May was national bike month, but I think every month of the summer can be a good month to ride.
Here are my top ten reasons to get on a road bike:
- The access. There are roads everywhere. You don’t need to drive to the gym or to the trailhead to get your workout on. You can go right out your front door.
- Running, swimming and biking offer the most bang for your buck for cardio. If you’re short on time but need to get a workout in, road biking is a great option.
- Being able to eat dessert (or whatever you want). Because you can burn so many calories, you can enjoy that cookie or ice cream for dessert. Plus, food tastes better after a workout.
- Low Impact Burn. Compared to running, biking is super gentle to joints, muscles and bones. It’s a valuable training tool for anyone who has had injuries, especially knee, ankle or foot.
- When you’re riding a bike, you can’t type or check your email. The mind doesn’t wander far from the 30 yards ahead of you. This is especially true for the descent and for beginners. You have to focus on the road and all the hazards it presents. This type of forced mindfulness practice is good for the brain.
- Exercising outdoors adds challenges like wind and weather that help push you past mental and physical barriers. Getting outside of your comfort zone is the key to progression.
- Joy/Freedom. It’s hard not to smile when you’re cruising on a road bike. It evokes a childlike sense of wonder and freedom.
- Camraderie/community. Even when I’m riding solo, I feel like I’m part of an exclusive gang. Road bikers are so friendly to one another. It also opens you up to a huge community of people who chose to make fitness a priority and spend their time outdoors. If you want more of this community vibe, it’s really easy to sign up for a group ride, non-competitive or competitive event! In my home city, there are tons of races every weekend for every level of athlete.
- Cross-training. As a professional ski mountaineer, doing long amounts of cardio is the key to being successful on summit day. Most other athletes will find that biking is a great way to develop muscles and endurance when they can’t do the sport they are training for.
- Spandex doesn’t lie. It’s easy to ignore a few extra pounds in street wear, but spandex will call you out on any extra weight.
Have fun and be safe out there!
When I received the new Freedoms, first thing I noticed was how small and compact they were. Instantly a couple things went through my head. Will they fit under my helmet when riding moto and downhill laps on the mountain bike? What was the sound going to be like? Well, to no surprise I’m quite pleased on both sides. Got them fitted into both ears, strap the helmet and slide her on – still comfortable, but most importantly, they stay in place while riding.
It’s no secret I’m a huge Metallica fan. Having said that, I like the music loud and to be sounding on point. I use the MySound App to set up my tunes where metal/rock sounds best. Which is loud and powerful
Set up Freedoms. Put on. Turn on. Disappear out on the trails for hours.
One of my coaches once told me, “There’s no such thing as overtraining, there’s only under-recovering.” If you’re training hard for an event or for an expedition, it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between tired, heavy legs that will re-energize once warmed up and the deep aches of needing a day off. How do you know when to push it and when to pull back? I think every athlete strives to learn how to better recover to maximize training sessions. What I’m learning is that it takes a lot of self-awareness to be able to train and recover for maximum benefits. Here are some of the things I’ve learned:
- Listen to your body. When you’re training, try to really focus on how your body feels. I sometimes log notes into my training logs, especially the small aches and pains.
- Take into account all the other demands in your life. If you have a stressful upcoming project at work, that additional stress is likely going to affect your training. If you are battling a minor cold or illness, hold back. If you have stress in your family life or relationship, you’ll feel that in your muscles. If you just got back from a big trip and a long plane ride, don’t go for your hardest workout. Stress, whether it’s from workouts, travel, work, family or relationships, has a way of causing tension in your muscles. Those are not the times to push your workouts into overdrive, no matter how enticing it sounds.
- If you’re really sore and need a day to recover, try to do a short (20-40 minute) bike ride, recovery run, mellow hike or swim to keep the muscles moving. During these recovery workouts, keep the intensity low. This is not the time to explore or go out with a new partner. Keep it chill, respect your body and you’ll likely find a good benefit from this.
- Stretch it out. I’ve recently got back into yoga for recovery. I do 20-40 minutes of gentle, restorative yoga to help unwind tense muscles. I’ve found it’s a really effective tool in my rest and recovery arsenal.
- Ice. Especially right after a hard workout. As a professional skier, I have so many aches and pains in my knees. If I’m able to ice them for 15-20 minutes within the first few hours after a hard run, ski tour or hike, I find they feel better the next day.
- Hot tub or cold plunge or both. This one is controversial, but I love the feeling of going from a hot tub, jumping into a snow bank, and going back in the hot tub. The sensation of hot and cold creates a delightful tingling and I find it helps my legs and body recover. If you don’t have a hot tub with a deep snow bank to jump into, find a pool with a hot tub and go back and forth between the hot and cold water a few times. It’s a nice treat for your muscles.
- Massage. If you don’t have a masseuse, ask other athletes or trainers for recommendations. When you get on the table, be specific and ask for what you want and need. Many masseuses just do a general “fluff and buff” for clients, but if you need work done on your legs, ask for it.
These are just a few tips I’ve learned and I hope they help you achieve your training goals!
To squat or not to squat is the question often asked among those that exercise and are seeking to improve their physical fitness and performance.I’ve heard all the arguments for squats and against squats, and there is some truth to both sides.
Here are a few of the myths and facts of the squat:
- “Squats are the best overall lower body exercise.” That is mostly true; squats are great for developing the entire lower body, if safely and appropriately executed. Squats have a pretty big learning curve.
- “Squats are bad for your knees.” This can be true, if you are squatting with incorrect form and squatting over your knees too much.
- “Squats are bad for your back.” Again, this can be true if you are using bad form, or too much weight.
Done correctly squats are one of the best exercises to strengthen the core, as well as the ligament and tendon structures of the knee joint.
Steps for a basic squat set up:
- With the barbell resting on a stand, slide under the bar and place in on the traps, just above the rear delts. Grasp the bar firmly with the hands at a comfortable width with the elbows back.
- Inhale deeply (this intrathoracic pressure helps keep the torso from collapsing forward), lightly arch the back by rotating the pelvis forward, contract the abdominal core, look straight ahead, and remove the barbell from the rack.
- Step back one or two steps and stop with both feet parallel to each other (or with toes pointing slightly outward). Your feet should be about shoulder width apart. Bend forward from the hips, and avoid rounding the back in order to prevent injury.
- When the thighs are horizontal to the floor, straighten the legs and lift the torso to return to the initial start position.
- Exhale at the end of the movement.
Keep in mind this is a very simple explanation of how to do a squat. Each person will squat differently based on their body type, femur length and hip width.
Should you add squats to your workout program? Yes!! Not only are squats great for developing lower body strength and power, but they are also great for developing the cardiovascular system.
Lastly, let’s address how low you should be squatting. Everybody including my dogs and my buddies’ 2 year old kid has an opinion on this. The best answer is as low as you can safely go with maintaining proper form. Obviously using lighter weight you should be able to go lower. There is nothing anatomically wrong with squatting all the way to the bottom (ass to grass as it is called).
In conclusion, eat your vegetables, drink your protein and do your squats!
As a professional runner of 12 years, you could say I’m just as much an expert at injuries as I am at racing around the world. Injuries are part of the deal. And I’ve learned that while they are the absolute worst for taking you out of the activities you love most, they are also opportunities. Yep, opportunities. Sometimes you really have to squint to see the silver lining, but it’s there. And since I’m 5 months into my recovery from achilles surgery with NO running (gasp), I don’t have to squint anymore to appreciate what those opportunities are. I’ve lived them. So next time you find yourself sidelined from your favorite sport, here are three tips for how to not only survive, but thrive through injury.
- Find the chink in your armor:
When I get an injury, my first reaction is usually full of expletives. But my second reaction is to surrender and look for the root cause. An injury doesn’t just happen. There is a reason, a weakness somewhere that prompted it. A sore achilles isn’t about the achilles. For example, it could be the result of poor glute and hip mobility or mechanics, and if you don’t take care of it, it will manifest in some other way as soon as your achilles calms down. An injury is always an opportunity to fine tune the machine so you can come back even stronger. Have a PT help you with the detective work and make a plan for you.
- Listen to podcasts
One of the things I miss most when I’m unable to run is having time to listen and deeply dive into music, uninterrupted. I have a 2 year old, and own my own business with my husband, so without running, I don’t get a lot of time to really listen to music. There’s something about being out in nature that feels like you are making your very own music video to whatever music you are listening to, bringing it all to life in a way being in the gym never can. Cross training on the elliptical just isn’t the same. So when I’m injured, I listen to podcasts instead. A good podcast gets my mind completely absorbed the way music in nature does, and the time flies by. Not only that but I learn new things. Podcasts literally get me out the door to do the cross training cardio that I would otherwise dread, because it is the only time I get to listen to them.
- Take it out of the lab
Sports can be this great laboratory for being your best self, pushing your limits, setting goals, and refining your body, mind, and spirit for the task at hand. It builds confidence, and perspective. But the point of the laboratory is to take what you learn about yourself and apply it to the outside world. Injury is a good time to put that into practice. Be that kickass climber in the office, or for your family. Attack a problem in your community or your household with the same intellectual curiosity you apply to improving the bike leg of your triathlon. That’s the ultimate test of your athleticism: it’s exchange rate in your every day life.
So while injuries will always suck, (let’s be honest), trust me when I say that these tips will make all the difference.
Yours in Sport,
Photo by Adam Clark
- Don’t listen to your parents when they tell you to go to graduate school and become a lawyer, doctor or businessperson. Don’t listen to anyone. They don’t understand your dream. Only you know what’s possible for you.
- Live within your means. Move to a place where you can do that and ski regularly. There aren’t too many ski towns like that left, but they are out there. Don’t acquire debt. Then ski a lot. Find other pros or aspiring pros to ski with. Contact local videographers and photographers to shoot.
- Figure out your personal brand and start building it. Keep your social media pages and websites updated with information that shows who you are. Research your ski idols and figure out how they built their careers. Contact potential sponsors that align with the personal brand you’ve developed.
- Plan to spend some time each week on the computer. Being in charge of a ski career is similar to running a small business. Prepare to learn how to do your own accounting, marketing, advertising, sales, negotiations and production.
- Set realistic goals for yourself. Start working on them. Figure out what your sponsors goals are, and figure out how you can contribute to their goals. Being able to throw a double cork or skiing the gnarliest line doesn’t mean you should get sponsored. Figure out the value you can bring to the companies you want to work for.
- Keep a job with a flexible schedule that allows you to ski during the day until you can make enough skiing to quit your job. Live with your parents (even though you disagree about your career choices doesn’t mean you can’t be agreeable to live around) or couch surf with friends. If you travel, keep it cheap. Offer to make dinner for the hosts whose couches you will be crashing on. Do dishes, keep it tidy. Leave any “base camp” you visit cleaner and better than you found it.
- When you’re not skiing, and you’re trying to make ends meet, Hustle. Pick up odd jobs. Organize and run yard sales for your friends and families to make some extra skrilla. You’d be amazed at how much you can make for piles of stuff people want to get rid of. Get a food sponsor. You gotta eat.
- When you do get that call from the photographer, it’s time to get some shots in the bag. Be professional. Show up on time, with your gear organized. Don’t be hungover. Don’t talk too much, listen to the direction from the photographer. Now you are going to realize that being a pro skier isn’t exactly what you think it is. Powder days are spent moving at snail paces with film crews. Shooting is about finding quality snow and terrain, not how many laps you can get in.
- Develop a thick skin for rejection and public criticism. You will hear a lot of nos, from sponsors, from photographers, from other athletes. Keep doing what you love and persisting. Have fun and be safe. Make sure you have health insurance and consider disability insurance.