I would have considered myself an off-road virgin…until last year. For 10 years I’d been racing triathlon on the road with the odd trail running race mixed in. It was about two years ago that I started to get curious about off-road multisport, went to watch a race and then borrowed a mountain bike and did the 2007 XTERRA World Championships in Maui. Still, 2008 passed by, and it wasn’t until January 2009 that I got my own mountain bike, hopped into an extreme trail running race, did a 12-hour MTB race on a 4-person team, and finally did an awesome off-road sprint triathlon in a pristine park just outside of the craziness of Los Angeles, CA, that I was fully hooked, almost immediately to the point of no return (to the road!) More importantly, I’ve been inspired to inspire others to venture with me and enliven their typical multisport experiences.
I raced off-road more than I trained off-road in the beginning. I quickly realized I had to seek out new people and places for these new adventures and in doing so, I ended up finding a whole new world, and I love that I have so many more years to enjoy it!
I continue to be amazed by the endless options I now have to enjoy training, racing and challenge myself as a person and an athlete. In July last year I raced an on-road sprint triathlon near the ocean in Carlsbad, CA, the following weekend I was up in the mountains in Big Bear, CA racing an off-road duathlon and after that I did Muddy Buddy Boulder with family on our vacation! In August I did the King of the Rockies mountain bike race in Winterpark, CO and the SkirtChaser 5k in Denver the same evening. And in September I did an 8 mile trail run called, Race to the Top of Mt. Baldy, just outside of Los Angeles, CA, all uphill, with 4000’ of climbing up to the summit at 10000’. The terrain and views were absolutely heavenly and super hard all that the same time. I had no idea what I was in for, and I loved it! That was followed up that same month by an off-road duathlon (run-MTB-run) in Comfort, TX and an on-road sprint triathlon in Connecticut for charity. I’m having a blast meeting all types of people who love to do what I do and seeing new parts of this beautiful planet we live on.
One key thing that made my transition to off-road so easy and allows me to be so diverse in my activities, is my performance training. Before sport-specfic training like swim, bike, run, I focus on training my body to be athletic, powerful, injury resistant and therefore capable of doing whatever my mind asks it to do. This gives me the confidence in myself and my body to jump into new challenges with two feet and without worry of injury. My key workouts (3-4 times per week for 60-90 minutes) include a joint focus on all the elements the body needs to get the job done. These include mobility, flexibility, stability, strength, elasticity and cardio capacity followed up with sport-specific drills for proper mechanics and movement efficiency. Doing these workouts makes me a better swimmer, cyclist and runner. So with the rest of the time I have, I go out an have a blast in my training any which way I want. It all works together. A body that moves well, is more capable of coordinating movements in new sports, like mountain biking and trail running for example. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t made learning mountain bike skills a piece of cake! I’ve taken quite a few spills, but my body has handled it well and my progress has been fast and fun. The best part is my training on the trails, which tends to include much more climbing, has transferred greatly to my power ON the road. It’s a win-win situation.
Props to the race organizers committed to putting on these off-road races. They put a lot of passion, sweat and time into putting them on and often don’t see the numbers of participants that their on-road attract. I’m on a mission to help them flourish and continue to be able to offer them!
Stay tuned for more experiences, both on and off-road this year, along with more of what I’ve learned and continue to learn. If you haven’t gone off-road yet, hope you’ll join me!