Searching for Balance

Chances are that if you ask any typical Coloradoan what they like to do (particularly ones here on Elevation Outdoors), they’ll say, “Oh you know, the usual…things that other people in Colorado love to do – hiking, skiing, biking… any of the fun outdoor stuff.”

I feel so fortunate to live in this beautiful state. I moved here from New Mexico about 5 years ago, but my family would visit Southwest Colorado (picture Ouray/Silverton) every year of my life since I could toddle. Ever since I was a little kid, I’d ask my parents, “When can we move to Colorado?” After I finished my undergrad, I was finally able to make my dream of moving Colorado come true, and ventured to Boulder for graduate school. I sheepishly admit that I moved here more because I wanted to live here than for the program at CU.

The trouble is that to really excel at one of your outdoor passions, the others will inevitably fall to the wayside. How do we prioritize? So much to do, so little time! You’re probably thinking, “This is simple. I ski/snowboard in the winter and I hike/mountain bike/camp in the summer. What’s the big problem?’ From the standpoint of a recreational athlete, it can be that simple. However, as a professional athlete (and in my case, a professional mountain biker), it’s a whole other battle. Winters have been spent shivering, trying to stay motivated, and pedaling for 3-5+ hours a day trying to accumulate a base for cycling with moderate cross-training while others are more concerned with the base at the ski area! Summer activities are usually focused on racing hard, recovering, and trying to train in between. This leaves little room for other sports, especially ones that can take away from training on the bike. I will ashamedly admit that while I have done a lot of hiking in my life, I STILL have not hiked a 14’er because it always interferes with racing and training. I hate that, and that WILL change this year. I’m a person who has had a love for multiple outdoor activities over the duration of my life, namely skiing, trail running, yoga, hiking, riding bikes, tennis, soccer – you name it! I didn’t grow up cycling, I grew up doing all these other exhilarating sports. I discovered my love mountain biking 7 years ago when I began riding as cross-training for distance running. It’s my number one passion and I wouldn’t trade the time and heart I’ve dedicated to it for anything. However, I do have other “fish to fry,” other adventures to be had that don’t involve 2 wheels but DO involve salt water, foreign countries, musical instruments, river water, pine trees, sand, miles of trail, cliffs, or high alpine air. Retirement from racing isn’t in my near future, but it certainly won’t be boring.

I’m experimenting a little bit this year with my training…. searching for balance. This winter, I skied a little more than usual and plan to ski about twice as much next year. The outdoor junkie in me is giving me the itch to dabble in my other passions. The thing I’ve been searching for is how do I partake in a few of these things I love to do without sacrificing my racing. There is definitely a fine line between being throttled from doing other sports, preventing me from getting an important and quality workout on my bike versus being stronger from from it transferring that fitness to the bike. Cross-training is highly recommended to bike “racers” in the off-season, but has not traditionally been recommended during the race season. The truth is I can’t stay away. I’m finding myself wanting to go running almost as much as ride, and having to pace myself with yoga and make sure that cycling is still number 1.

The other predicament is that when I do something, I have a hard time doing it and not pushing myself to the highest level. If I go for a run, I don’t want to jog the bike path, I want to run up a mountain and not stop till I get to the top. If I ski, while I try to be happy being intermediate, in the back of my mind I desperately want to learn to do jump and ski with the big boys (but not race). If I ride, I want to see just how much I can take (which is partly why I switched to endurance racing. Colorado Trail Race next summer…? :) ). That makes it even harder to find balance between multiple sports.

Just some food for thought.

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