Getting in shape with endurance god Travis Macy

getting in shape

Travis Macy, seen riding in Colorado, has some sage advice for getting in shape. Photo courtesy of Travis Macy

He's the Leadman—the 2013 winner of five events in six weeks consisting of 282 miles of trail running and mountain biking around America's highest incorporated city: Leadville, Colorado. Travis Macy is an endurance training, ultra-marathoning, trail running, mountain biking, and snowshoeing professional. His resume is legendary, ranking him among some of the best athletes in the world, but that’s not all that defines him. Macy also balances a full-time job as an online high school English teacher, and is a father to two young children. Yet somehow he manages to make more than the most of it.

Indeed, when I asked people about Macy, his storied resume was not the first thing they mentioned. Instead, they all said, “He is such a nice guy!” In a world where earning medals is so highly valued, it's a breath of fresh mountain air to hear how modest Macy is.

Recently the Evergreen, Colorado-based endurance athlete has taken to sharing his experiences, expertise, and passions with other outdoor athletes of all ages and abilities on his website.

Here, the endurance athlete shares some sage advice with GrindTV:

Getting in shape

When it comes to getting in shape, Macy advises us to train with a buddy. Photo courtesy of Travis Macy

As a family man with a full-time job, how do you stay motivated to train?
I'm motivated by the fact that I spend most of my time working toward meaningful pursuits. Having kids is a reason to pursue your goals and dreams—not ignore them. I want to be able to say, honestly, "I have dreams, Wyatt and Lila, and I am pursuing them wholeheartedly because of you. I want you to see that I fail all the time, at least as often as I succeed. I want you to see that I keep on hammering, looking constantly for new and creative solutions, knowing that I will eventually win, even if only through perseverance, grit, and by outlasting the competition." The only real failure is passing through life on cruise control.

Getting in shape

For Macy, getting in shape involves being fit enough to win the title of “Leadman,” which goes to the man who covers 282 miles of trail running and mountain biking at altitude the fastest. Photo courtesy of Travis Macy

With children comes germs. How do you stay healthy so that you can train consistently?
If you're a parent and/or working professional, you're probably never going to get out of the house if you wait for the perfect conditions. I feel tired and somewhat run down most of the time, but exercise is a big part of what energizes me to be my best as a parent, teacher, and coach. Sleep plays a huge role in recovery, so emphasizing that (as much as possible) is helpful. Nutrition also goes a long way toward allowing the body to rebound. I rely heavily on the super-starch carbohydrate Vitargo for fuel intake before, during, and after exercise, and I always eat a lot of carbohydrates and protein immediately after exercising, when the body is most in need of macronutrients for rebuilding.

What are a couple healthy go-to snacks and meals that keep your energy up while endurance training?
Quinoa has been my recent favorite. I put it in salads, Greek yogurt, eggs, and just about anything else I'm cooking. I'm a sucker for Mom's pumpkin muffins—I like to keep a stash of them in the truck, so the kids and I have something to snack on.

For the people new to outdoor sports, what are three tips to allay "newbie" fears?
Just do it! A lot of people spend too much time thinking about the things they want to do, and never getting around to taking action. Figure out the first step to take, choose a date on the calendar, and go from there. Second, connect with people who are already in the sport. People who are into outdoor sports are excited about sharing their passion, and even the most competitive athletes are typically approachable and happy to talk. Third, get the right equipment—it can make all the difference between a great first experience, and a miserable one. If possible, utilize local shops for expert advice. Also consider sites like Craigslist for deals on used equipment that probably still works very well.

getting in shape

Getting in shape for Macy involves using the “4:30 a.m. Rule.” Photo courtesy of Travis Macy

Balancing work and family is tough enough. What are some creative ways to sneak in extra training during a busy day?
I do a lot of my upper body, core, and rehab work when hanging out with the kids at night. It's easy to do crunches while playing with a baby, and my son loves doing push-ups with me. I have a treadmill and bike rollers in the garage, and I do quite a bit of training at naptime. Most important, I emphasize quality and specific purpose with each workout. I make the most of limited time by doing a lot of running and biking intervals, and by completing quality workouts at high altitude in the hills.

One of your training strategies is to give up “choice.” Can you explain this?
Finishing a long race (or anything challenging, for that matter) is much easier if the option of quitting has been ruled out. Resilience and perseverance are mindsets that you can be trained in to, just like with your muscles or cardiovascular system. I use the 4:30 a.m. Rule (when the alarm goes off, literally or figuratively, you MUST get up and take action, even—and especially—when you don't feel like it) to maintain personal commitments on a daily basis. In a nutshell: Get good at doing things that you don't feel like doing at a given moment, but will be helpful to meeting your goals in the long run. Once you get going, The 4:30 a.m. Rule is as seductive and addictive as it is simple.

getting in shape

Travis Macy; photo courtesy of Travis Macy

For those who need additional extrinsic motivators, what do you suggest?
The first key is goal setting. If you really want to succeed, include specific steps and outcomes: "I want to exercise more and get in shape, and I will do that by attending spin class Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at lunch and by going for a run on Sunday afternoon. I will know I have met my goal when I can ride for an hour without stopping." Stipulating when, where, and how you will take action is essential. Extrinsic motivators become important as distractions and conflicting desires begin to pull you from the commitments you’ve made. Some people's exercise programs include rewards like a tasty Starbucks treat after hitting all workouts for the week, or a family vacation tied in with the race they trained for.

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