MEET CYCLING LEGEND LAEL WILCOX The Woman Who Raced 4,200 Miles in 18 Days and Won
FINDING MOTIVATION ON THOSE TOUGH DAYS Top Mental Strategies for Your Fitness Routine Since most of us are stuck at home these days, now is a time that it is especially crucial to take care of yourself physically and mentally. Whether your workout routine is embedded in your schedule or you’re still trying to make it happen, always remember that your mind is just as important as your body. On some days, you may feel like anything is possible, and on others, it may feel impossible to even get out of bed. Don’t worry, that’s totally normal! There’s no reason to feel ashamed if you’re struggling with gaining steam and motivation for your workout — especially now! Here are some mental strategies to help you get started with caring for yourself physically during this unprecedented time of forced shut-ins. STARTING YOUR WORKOUT What’s the hardest part of working out? For most people, it’s not the heavy weights or the long cardio sessions — it’s actually beginning. Sometimes, people will wake up and think that the gym or an at-home workout isn’t possible that day as they lay in bed. Some people will psych themselves out of working out because their time is limited, or they worry about how tired they’ll be after the workout (especially after or before a busy day). Instead of thinking of reasons you can’t or don’t want to work out, focus your mind only on the task of starting. Stepping into your workout space will often give you the mental push to actually work out. It’s also best to leave the all-or-nothing mindset behind — a 45- or 55-minute workout isn’t required every single session. Life happens, and even if it’s a short exercise or just a casual walk outside, your workout will actually energize you for the rest of your day. PUSHING YOURSELF TO THE LIMIT Studies have found that the most successful people share grit: the ability to work hard and endure even the most difficult times. Workouts will burn, and the motions may feel uncomfortable or even painful, so it’s crucial to have the grit to push yourself to the limit. Rather than give up, you should embrace the pain and see it as a sign you’re growing stronger. Adjust your inner vocabulary. Anything that seems “uncomfortable” should be reconsidered as “intense” but something you can work through. Of course, be careful of injury pains!
Picture the distance between Oregon and Virginia on a U.S. map. Now, picture crossing that distance on a bicycle. Odds are you either can’t imagine it or you conjured up a monthslong slog, but in 2016, ultra- endurance cyclist Lael Wilcox crossed that distance in just 18 days and 10 minutes — the second-fastest time in the history of the Trans Am Bike Race. As hard as it is to believe, the 4,200 mile stretch from Astoria, Oregon, to Yorktown, Virginia, is actually a racecourse. Every June, roughly 50–100 cyclists undertake the journey, pedaling through a total of 10 states. It’s an insane obstacle course of cars, mountains, and weather events that riders go through alone, without required checkpoints or designated rest periods. When Wilcox won the Trans Am in 2016, she became the first woman and the first American ever to do so. According to NPR, the victory came down to a combination of endurance and luck. In the final days of the race, she was in second place behind Steffan Streich when exhaustion sent him pedaling out of Bumpass, Virginia, in the wrong direction. When the two met on the road at 3 a.m., a panicked Streich turned around and sprinted neck and neck with Wilcox toward the finish. After a few miles, she pulled ahead and won. In response to those who said a woman could never win the Trans Am, Wilcox told NPR, “If you beat ‘em, you beat ‘em. That’s what happens. And then everybody has to change the way they think.” Perhaps the most impressive thing about Wilcox, even more than her 2016 win, is that she didn’t start cycling until she was 20 years old, when her boyfriend at the time gave her a bike. Since then, she’s competed all over the world, logging a total of 100,000 miles in 35 countries. When she’s isn’t racing, Wilcox encourages teenage girls to try cycling with scholarships and group events. In November 2019, she even starred in “I Just Want to Ride,” a 38-minute film following her quest to win the 2019 Tour Divide Race. To learn more about the film and what makes Wilcox tick, visit LaelWilcox.com.
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