Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rebecca Rusch: "The Queen of Pain"

An Inspiration to All Women Athletes

I was honored to spend time talking with Rebecca Rusch during Interbike. At 42 and known as the "Queen of Pain", Rebecca is a 2-time Leadville 100 Mountain Bike race winner and women's record holder; and a 3-time 24-hour solo mountain bike world champion. As she chases adrenaline, she continues to remain on top of the world! Let's take a look into her career:

MR: How did you get your start in mountain biking?

RR: I started out adventure racing with Eco-Challenge in 1997, when adventure racing faded, my sponsors suggested mountain bike racing. Ironically, I didn't like the bike portion of adventure racing. I had the fitness, I just had to learn the technical aspect of mountain biking

MR: You obviously learn quickly! Would you give us a glimpse of your training during race season and in the off-season?

RR: My race season is pretty much year-round, so my training primarily consists of biking. I train about 20 hours/week; about half on the road, which includes more difficult workouts such as intervals and easier workouts. I also do cyclo-cross and downhill racing as part of my training. However, most of the races around home, in Ketchum, ID, are for fun. My cross-training workouts in-season consist of functional strength training and yoga. In the off-season I enjoy swimming, cross-country and back-country skiing.

MR: This leads me into your nutritional “training”. Give us a little insight into what you do to stay fueled during a 100 mile mountain bike race and your multi-day races.

RR: As I have gotten older, I realize just how important nutrition is, not only for performance, but also for health. About a week before the race I’ll clean it up by limiting alcohol and caffeine. I take my aminos and a multivitamin/mineral supplement, and make sure I’m well hydrated.

I break my race nutrition into a couple time frames: less than 12 hour and over 12 hours:

· Leadville 100 (less than 12 hrs) – is a “short” race that starts early. I’m not getting up at 3a.m. to eat a full breakfast prior to the race start, so I may have a light smoothie for breakfast. I keep the majority of my nutrition for this race as liquid and gels. I need a fast start in this race, which is where my Red Bull shot kick starts the morning!

· Longer than 12 hours - I can eat solid food during these races, which I prefer. I will usually have eggs, toast, and fruit about 3 hours before the start. When I come through the aid stations my support team has turkey, avocado, and plain baked potatoes. I tend to crave salty, fatty foods during long races. And something that’s easy to eat!

MR: You definitely have it dialed in during the race, what about recovery nutrition?

RR: If you don’t give 100% in your recovery nutrition, you won’t get 100% out of your workouts. It took me years to figure this out, but now I take my recovery as seriously as my training. Hammer Nutrition’s Recoverite is my recovery drink of choice, immediately post-race and after every hard workout. Then I make sure I eat a regular meal within 1 hour.

MR: Are you as focused in the off-season with your nutrition or do you relax a bit?

RR: The past few years I’ve realized the importance of nutrition for general health. I focus on buying organic whenever possible, eating local and decreasing processed foods. And I’ve recently begun a supplement regime.

MR: Most athletes have a guilty pleasure, what is yours?

RR: Actually, I like strawberry Recoverite with hot chocolate, especially when it’s cold. I also make homemade pizza!

MR: That sounds great, I’ll have to give it a try! One last question that I’ve always wondered, when you make it to the pro level do you still get nervous prior to your race?

RR: Oh yes, I get nervous before every race, that really never goes away!

MR: I would like to thank you for your time and discussing your training: physical and nutritional! It’s been my pleasure!

[Interview conducted on September 23, 2010].