Diamondback athlete Micayla Gatto is no stranger to setting goals and training hard to achieve great results. If there’s one thing she’s learned in her years of elite competition it’s that what you do off the bike is just as important as what you do on the bike. Here are ten things Micayla does that help her achieve optimal results in her races as well as daily training rides. Whether you prefer to ride mountain bikes, road, tri, or any other cycling discipline, these tips are sure to help you get into a better mental and physical space.
- Eating: I've learned that no matter how hard you train, if you're not eating properly you're never going to feel your best. I focus on veggies, meat, fruit, and nuts for most of my diet; nothing fancy. You need to find what works for your own body, but I can say right now that overly-processed foods and refined sugars are the first thing that should go!! If you can't pronounce what's in your food: get rid of it.
- Hiking, trail running, and swimming: it’s great cross training and it's enjoyable! It's good for your body and brain to switch up your daily routine and movements. Always doing the same activity can create imbalances in your body that can lead to injury or pain.
- Sleep/recovery: I can honestly say I am the worst at getting enough sleep. I learned the hard way that not taking time to rest and recover is only going to set you further back in your progress. It's something I'm working on, because I know it's one of the most important (and maybe most ignored) training tools.
- Yoga: I feel that yoga teaches you about your body more than any other sport. You're focusing so much on alignment, breathing, and using tiny little muscles you never knew you had. When I practice regularly, my body feels amazing, my mood is better, and I feel clear and calm about life. Find the classes and teachers you love, and stick to it!
- Mental Training: when I was racing full time I did a lot of mental training, visualization, and affirmations. The mind is an insanely powerful tool, and, if harnessed correctly, can take you further than you ever imagined. Positivity and egolessness are two of my favourite things to practice. We are our own harshest critics, and getting rid of that negative self talk and judgment will do wonders for your training. Plus being happy with who you are is just nice in general.
- The gym: I've taken over a year off from a regimented gym training program to deal with injuries and mental training, and I'm feeling it (not in a good way!). The gym is an awesome supplement to riding because, once again, it balances out your body, builds strength and power, and my favourite: injury prevention. Going down hard in our sport is inevitable, so might as well build your body up so it can take a hit, recover, and keep going. You see a lot of injuries happening just after the midway point in the season, when bodies are fatigued and starting to feel the exhaustion of travel and racing. The stronger and fitter you stay, the less likely you're going to get hurt.
- Riding buddies: I've never been too big into riding in groups, but if you can find even one person you can train well with, I believe it makes training and your mental game stay strong. Even if you're competitors, you can still be friends and use each other to push and elevate your skills to the next level.
- Music: I live for music. When I'm training indoors or going for a long solo ride or hike, music really helps put me into "the zone". Nothing distracts me from burning legs more than a good beat! Even before going out for a ride with someone, I blast some tunes in my truck to get me stoked. I also use it in recovery to relax, and before races to help me focus. Music is a powerful thing!
- Journal: I'm the type of person who never thinks they're doing enough. Writing down your training every day, how you're feeling, and even what you ate is a great training tool to keep things in perspective. A couple months ago I was starting to feel a bit run down, and I hadn't been recording anything so I wrote out what I'd done the past two weeks; from what I could remember, I had been training over 20hrs a week outside with no days off and hadn't been sleeping properly. I had no idea! Writing down what you do and how you feel is crucial, especially if you're not on a steady training program.