Mountains are great teachers. They teach you discipline and perseverance, and help shape your perspective (both figuratively and literally).
Last month, I was lucky enough to take on the cycling trip of a lifetime across the French alps, across Alpe d'Huez, through Col de Sarenne and beyond. Words can hardly do it justice; it was an incredible experience. It tested my endurance in ways I never have before, and left me in awe of nature.
My key goal on the journey was to set a new PB (personal best) for the steep Alpe d'Huez climb. My previous PB was set in 2017 with a time of 58:45. I had over 10,000 miles in the legs that year and was well-prepared for a solid time.
This year, with only 14 weeks of prep, and three years older, I knew I would be hard-pushed to beat that PB. I had to give it my all and rely on the fitness I had been building up over the past year. I’m very pleased to say I cracked it, just, with a new PB of 58:13. It was a huge relief!
Since returning, I’ve found a renewed and enhanced motivation with everything I do. From my own training, building the Raw Sport brand, supporting friends and family with their training, to everyday life.
Naturally, I want to share this motivation with you all and help you with your goals. That’s why Raw Sport exists! See below for my top three training tips from the alps. I hope these lessons serve you as well as they have served me recently.
Throughout the trip, I was blown away by how many messages I received commenting on the adventure and the inspirational scenery. In these difficult times, anything we can use to inspire and motivate us all together is essential, so I was delighted to see this positive impact.
Being on the mountainside for a week reminded me how life is all about varying perspectives. The way I see the world right now in most cases will be different from yours, and we’ll both hold unique views, experiences and lessons within us.
Mountains show us how vast and beautiful the world is and serve as an incredible reminder of the variety of terrains, climates and people out there. This sparked my brain into looking at things from as many angles as possible. It’s so important we all do this as much as possible. We have to realise that we’re all on the same team but all come from different places (physically and mentally).
This ‘mountain mindset’ (as I like to call it) has helped me see the world through multiple lenses from a variety of angles. In turn, this has helped my mental approach to training. I can see why some people use unusual techniques and get creative with their regimes and routines. You have to do what works for you and be true to yourself, especially in times of uncertainty (such as the past six months). So whenever you can, make sure you’re training in the way that works best for you and achieves your personal goals. You’re not training to be like someone else, you’re training to be the best version of yourself.
Gravity is still the best resistance tool out there. And there’s no better place to use gravity than on a mountain. As you’re struggling up the steep incline (whether you’re on wheels or your feet) you feel the sheer power of the mountain’s gravity working against you. It can feel daunting and sometimes impossible. The resistance of a mountain is unbreakable… but that’s the beauty of it, and if you embrace that you can use it as fuel.
As soon as I realised this, the ride became easier and more achievable. I realised that the mountain’s incline was the perfect gift. It was an unlimited challenge and would push me to my limit. It’s just YOU versus NATURE. From that point on, I felt an extra sense of power in every push of the pedal – it reminded me of how lucky I am to be able to do this. And when you’re in that mindset (the mountain mindset), nothing can stop you.
When you’re pushing yourself, you have to make ample time for recovery. Stretch your body and stretch your mind whenever you get the chance.
Plan your rests and use them properly. Adopt a structured stretching routine that allows all your muscles to iron out any tension.
But it’s not just about your muscles. If you can, practice mindfulness when you take a break. Breathing techniques can be very helpful for this kind of thing, so take time to practice them beforehand to make sure you get the most out of your breaks possible.
Of course, nutrition is also crucial. Make sure to treat your body like a high performance car throughout the whole journey. Only put in the best fuel if you want the best results and healthy longevity. For an intense mountain climb, a long run, or resistance training, I would recommend Raw Fuel (all the protein, carbs and overall calories you need). Throughout the journey, I also kept my immune system in check with a collection of superfoods.
So there you have it - some training tips from the French mountains! I hope you enjoy these thoughts as much as I have enjoyed sharing them. If you have any questions, please get in touch with the Raw Sport team.
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And wherever you are, however you’re training or recovering, remember to enjoy yourself!