WHAT SEPARATES GREAT PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES FROM THE GOOD ONES? A PROFOUND MIND/BODY CONNECTION THAT’S ATTAINED THROUGH RIGOROUS PHYSICAL AND MENTAL TRAINING. THEY DON’T LIKE PAIN, STRESS, AND PRESSURE ANY MORE THAN THE REST OF US. THEY’RE JUST BETTER AT MANAGING IT.
“When I get on that bike, I know I’m going to suffer,” said Sam Schultz, 25, a member of the Subaru Trek Mountain Bike Team. “The question is how much I’m going to let it get to me and what I’m going to do to mitigate it.”
Like most pro athletes, Schultz has trained his body and mind to resist pain and sustain the kind of focus that enables him to compete at the highest level.
The key to honing that focus is consistent, hard-core, year-round training.
Take Bobby Murphy, director of the Vail Snowsports School, who is in his second term on the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) Alpine Team. He typically works on his technique at least four days a week, three hours at a time.
In addition to powder time, Murphy stays in shape playing hockey twice a week. During the summer, his off-season, he adds mountain and road biking, logging about 45 miles of road time four times a week.
“To stay fit at this level, I have to practice hard throughout the year,” the 42-year-old said. “I wouldn’t be performing at the highest level if I only worked during ski season.”
For Megan Melgaard – a professional extreme athlete who has competed in triathlons, open-water swim competitions, and adventure racing – a typical week includes a mix of swimming, hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking two to four hours a day. “I am constantly working on my endurance,” she noted.
During the 10 months Melgaard, 30, spent training to compete in last summer’s Race Across America (RAAM), a nine-day transcontinental bicycle race, she put in seven hours of biking and swimming most days.
And, as for Schultz, biking alone doesn’t ready him for racing season. He also does two hours of core work and yoga each day to keep injuries at bay.