Heavy Legs

Learning that training does not exist in isolation

I can still remember the feeling. It was 2016, and I was training relentlessly for the UCI Pro Tour of the Gila. I had gotten a taste of the competition at San Dimas Stage Race the previous month, but this would be my first real UCI (International professional level) race and I was training scared.

Day after day, I fought everything. I fought my bicycle on the slopes on Mount Lemmon, chasing the ghosts of these pro cyclists in my mind. I felt that I was not fit enough, and with only one month until the race, I was like a college kid cramming for a test. No matter how tired I felt, no matter how heavy my legs, I felt that I needed to smash myself.

But my gains were small. I was not recovering properly. I spent all my time and focus on riding hard and breaking down my muscles until their last fiber of strength, but I did not let them rest.

I had yet to learn the importance of recovering and resting, and doing everything possible to incorporate a recovery plan into my training.

I survived my race at the Tour of the Gila, but I left a lot of potential on the table. I showed up to the start line over trained, and missing the high intensity that I needed because I did not recovery enough to push my training to the next level.

This all changed in 2017. At this point I was piloting tandem bicycles for the US Paralympic cycling team. I had the full resources of the US Olympic Committee and the US Olympic training center and their high tech facilities.

I had coaches, dieticians, trainers, and every available resource needed to be faster. But most importantly, I was taught to recover. I began to realize that less is more, and I learned to take advantage of all the tools at my disposal.

At the Olympic training center, and at every race, we had access to massage, recovery boots, and Squid compression machines. These tools became as essential to me as my training sessions. My training plan was no longer limited to just the time on the bike. Proper training was all encompassing. It started with a good night’s sleep,  healthy breakfast, and a recovery boot session to prime my legs for days training. It allowed me to push harder and his higher power levels than ever on the bike.

After each session, I ate properly, used the recovery boots again, and got a flush out massage. When I got an injury I addressed it as quickly as possible, and did preventative stretching and strength work. I used the Squid machine to fight off potential knee injuries, and I remained consistent.

This all encompassing approach to training was so obvious but also, so overlooked. Training does not exist in isolation. It is equally, if not more important, to surround your training time with the proper plan and tools to recover fully before your next session.

Using technology such as Squid recovery to help deal with knee and joint injuries, massage, stretching, and proper diet and sleep can be the little details that make the difference between back of the pack and the podium.

But most importantly, they make the sport sustainable. Being run down and overtrained only leads to burnout. Sustainable recovery allows for an injury free consistency that eventually help leave me on the World Championship podium that year.