Wow, this is quite a treat for your Monday motivation levels. Tracy Moseley has been, and continues to be, one of the most successful British racers in the history of mountain biking.
This insight into her training 'regime' throughout her career is not only an interesting read but also one sure-fire way to kick-start your own training schedule - which, if you are akin to 99% of other people, most probably 'dropped off' ever-so-slightly roughly one week into 2013...
TRAINING THROUGHOUT MY CAREER
Words: Tracy Moseley
January is always the time of year when we set our New Year's resolutions and on a sporting level our training plans often become a priority as that first event we have planned to do is now only a few months or even weeks away. Many of my friends and family are still amazed that I have the motivation to keep racing and training year after year, winter after winter. I think if I look back over the last 18 years of my racing career every winter’s training has been slightly different and I think that has kept my motivation and interest high.
Back in 1996, when I first started racing, I was just a kid who loved sport; playing netball and hockey at school and helping out on the farm. I used to ride my bike at races at the weekend and not touch it during the week. There was definitely no training plan back then I just did whatever I felt like.
Anyone who watched me at a race used to say the same thing, “why didn’t you pedal in that section?" or “you could have gone so much faster if you had pedalled". I really didn’t like pedalling. I was a chubby kid and used to get dragged out on XC rides by my brother, always at the back of the group, suffering from start to finish. Back then I was lucky to get a little support from British Cycling and Sue Cook was given the task of trying to help the juniors with some training ideas… I was not great at sticking to the plan and I used to get taken out on some XC rides around Sheffield when I was at university and again my memories are just hours of suffering! Looking back now I was in Sheffield with amazing terrain on my doorstep but I just didn’t make the most of it.
Once I finished Uni and starting racing full time on the World Cup circuit I really had no excuses. I did spend loads more time riding my bikes; endless days at the dirt jumps and a little more XC riding. I had some help with my training and planning from a friend, Adrienne Sidford, who was an XC racer and coach. She helped me loads with setting goals, how to keep focus and the psychology of racing. She tried getting me to keep a training diary and work on my fitness but I couldn’t stick to a plan as all I wanted to do was just play on my bike!
In 2003 I spent a lot of time in the US racing and travelling with Tara Llanes and Lisa Sher, two of the best American downhillers at that time, and I got to see how they trained. I had the chance to go to one of Lisa’s gym sessions and wow;I could barely walk for a week afterwards! It really opened my eyes to what these girls were doing and how structured their training was. I was still able to compete against them and often would beat them at races that year, but it made me think, just imagine if I was that fit, how much faster could I be? I think that was the turning point for me as I realized I needed to up my level of training and start to think about my fitness.
I started working with Brian Philpotts; one of the PT instructors at my local gym. He got me doing loads of balance, strength and proprioception work to incorporate my core strength and flexibility and try to apply it directly to the demands of DH racing. I really enjoyed the training, it was interactive and every session was different. Up until about 2007 I worked with Brian and spent hours in the gym and just added some time on the XC bike around the gym work. I definitely got stronger and 2006 was a stand out year for me winning the first 3 world cups. I went on to win the overall series.
Since then I have tried a few different things. One year I did a winter of loads of weights work in the gym and interval based work on the bike. I was definitely stronger but I think the extra muscle bulk didn’t help me. I still got arm pump and I was just too heavy to be quick on my bike.
In 2008/2009 Helen Mortimer (ex-DH racer working for British Cycling) helped get some support from British Cycling for a few of the top DH riders. I learnt a lot from having chance to meet the physios, nutritionists and sport psychologists. I decided I needed to lose weight and spend more time on my bike and also to ride DH more often to build up the strength that way.
Helen offered to help with my training and it was the first time I really had a proper training plan that I followed. I was also enjoying my XC riding more and more and starting to see the benefits of the training and my body shape change, which gave me the motivation to do more. I started to just take every aspect of my exercise more seriously and the one thing Helen really highlighted to me was the need for “rest". Rest was something I was terrible at doing, I have always been such an active person so sitting doing nothing was hard!
After winning the World Championships in 2010, I had achieved my lifelong goal and I was ready for a change and some new incentives. Most of them were endurance based challenges, the first one being the Cape Epic, then an XC World Cup and following that I was a team relay member at the World Champs in 2011.
All these things helped steer my career in the direction it is heading now – towards a year of enduro racing. My training is now so much more focused on cross country and endurance than it ever has been and I now have the dedication to stick to the plan. I will sit for hours on end on the turbo trainer happily knowing that it will all make me fitter for this summer and help to achieve the goals I have set myself.
It has been a long road to finally get to the place where I really feel like I am training properly but I think the gradual progress is the reason I am still in the sport and still loving it. Thanks to everyone who has helped and given me advice along the way. If I had been forced into a structure too soon, yes I may have been more successful earlier in my career but I may not be still riding my bike now and loving it more than ever.