Are Your Asymmetries Holding You Back?

Asymmetry is an issue that is often painless, in and of itself, and can therefore be very easy to overlook.  However, to the trained coach or physical therapist, it is well-known as one of the most probable underlying causes of acute injury during physical activity.  In fact, it is the #2 risk factor for athletic injury, with previous injury coming in at #1.  What is asymmetry? How does it develop? What can be done to address it?

Asymmetry, in the physiological sense, is a condition in which a muscle on one side of the body is significantly stronger or weaker than the corresponding muscle on the other side.  It does not have to be, and usually isn’t, limited to one pair of muscles.  It is perfectly possible to have stronger glutes AND hamstrings AND spinal erectors on one side.  Furthermore, strength is not the only thing that can be “asymmetrical”.  It is also common to see athletes with greater (or lesser) mobility in a joint on one side than in the corresponding joint on the other side.  In short, asymmetry is an imbalance between the left and right side of the body.

Most people are asymmetrical to some degree, if only in the sense that they express a preference for doing things with their “dominant” hand or foot.  Almost everyone naturally feels more comfortable using one hand or the other to perform tasks that require fine motor control.  Baseball players throw with either their right or left hand – few can proficiently switch between them.  Hockey players are more comfortable with one hand lower on the stick than the other.  Downhill MTB racers have one foot ahead of the other in the “attack position”.  Over time, without some sort of training intervention, the dominant side and the non-dominant side begin to diverge in terms of mobility, flexibility, motor control, and/or strength.  As this divergence increases, the athlete unintentionally reinforces it, compensating for the weakness of one side by overusing the other.  Dysfunctional movement patterns eventually develop, which will ultimately cause injury, given enough time.  Injury can then actually create NEW asymmetries by causing the athlete to rely on the uninjured side to to the daily work of both sides.  This is likely one of the main reasons that previous injury is such a strong predictor of new injury.

So, asymmetry is natural, to some degree.  However, that doesn’t meant that there’s nothing we can do to fix or alleviate it.  While many sports and recreational activities will, by their very nature, encourage asymmetries to develop, a well-thought-out strength training program can counteract those imbalances, ensuring well-rounded development on both sides of the body, regardless of the demands of the sport.  There are landmines (the blow-you-up kind, not the exercise) in this approach, though. Training a certain movement with an external load (added weight), such as a squat or press, without first correcting any dysfunction in the current movement pattern can actually compound asymmetry and increase your risk of injury.  That’s why it’s important to have a coach, trainer, or therapist who can objectively assess your movement patterns, asymmetries, and other issues, and then correctly prioritize them to optimize your performance without increasing your risk for injury.

If you’re concerned about a strength or mobility imbalance that could be holding you back in your sport, set up a free intro consultation with us to talk about how a personalized strength training program can help fix those problems and get you firing on all cylinders.

Ski Season Prehab: Protecting the ACL

It’s a nightmare scenario for any skier:  an audible pop right after a quick change in direction, followed by a buckling sensation in the knee joint and, most likely, plenty of pain.

During intense athletic activity, the knee joint is often exposed to tremendous amounts of force, especially during directional changes and/or deceleration.  When that happens, the role of the ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) is to prevent the tibia (shin bone) from separating from the femur (thigh bone), which is generally not a good thing.   When the force absorbed by the joint exceeds the surrounding musculature’s ability to resist it, the  ACL becomes vulnerable and susceptible to injury.  You can read more about the kinesiological mechanisms of ACL injury here.   Skiers and snowboarders are at a particularly high risk for ACL injury because of the constant directional changes involved in these sports.

However, the good news is, there is a way to greatly reduce that risk.  We know that a combination of excessive shearing and rotational forces on the knee joint can cause an ACL injury, but what is the underlying issue that makes those forces “excessive”?  The answer is strength.  Weak hips, and weak hamstrings in particular, can lead to a general inability to stabilize the knee joint and safely absorb force during deceleration and directional changes.  Read more about that here.

The bottom line is (simply) this: the risk of ACL injury, on the slopes or anywhere else, can be greatly reduced by increasing strength in the hips and legs.   An ACL tear is almost always a very expensive, season-ending injury, and many athletes never fully recover from it.  If you aren’t working on improving your strength to help prevent this type of injury, you should be.

To learn more about how a well-planned strength training program can help protect your knees (and other joints) while also taking your training and performance to the next level, check out our website at sisustrong.com or sign up for a time to chat with us for free!

 

Why Do We Harp on the Hip Hinge?

I know you’ve all wondered this. Why in the hell do we care so much about the hip hinge? Why are we constantly in your ear about it when you aren’t doing it perfectly?

Lower back pain is one of the most common ailments that brings new people through our door. It’s a problem that affects millions of people, and it can be especially troublesome for athletes (recreational or professional), who are constantly pushing their bodies to the limit. It can range from an occasional nagging pain to totally debilitating and it keeps many athlete from performing at their peak. Luckily, however, it’s usually one of the easiest problems to fix, if you know what you’re doing. Enter the hip hinge.

What causes lower back pain?

It is different for everyone, but a couple of things are probably at least contributing, if not totally to blame for a given case of lower back pain.

Inactive and/or weak glutes – in our society, it has become increasingly common for a person to spend the majority of their waking hours seated in a chair. Many people spend their entire workday seated at a computer, then sit in a car and drive home, where they sit down and have dinner. Being in this position for hours on end over an extended period of time will eventually cause the hip flexors to shorten. As the hip flexors shorten, the glutes must relax to accommodate the extra tightness.

Over time, this leads to inactive, weak glutes that are not capable of producing the amount of force that they should be. This, combined with #2, leads to over-reliance on other muscles, like the spinal erectors, which are not made to bear the load that could and should be carried by the glutes.

Poor movement patterns – The second major contributing factor in many causes of back pain is poor movement. Basically, this means moving in a way that does not efficiently distribute the load being moved, which places excessive stress on parts of the body that are not made to handle it.

The most common example of this we see is when someone bends over to pick something up of the ground, and they immediately flex (bend) their lumbar spine (lower back). This puts a great deal of stress on the lower back and basically takes the glutes out of the equation as far as helping you pick that thing up. Instead you’re relying on your spinal erectors to do the job, which aren’t made for lifting. They’re made for keeping you standing straight up (erect), as the name implies.

You may be able to get away with doing this for a while, but eventually, it will catch up to you and you will become one of the 75-80% of people who experience lower back pain at some point in their lives.

The hip hinge, god bless it, helps us solve both of these problems. When we teach you the hip hinge movement, what we are really teaching you to do is use your glutes. The hip hinge is nothing more than a simple movement pattern that transfers weight from your lower back to your glutes and hamstrings, which are much stronger and therefore better equipped to bear that weight. Essentially, we are trying to reprogram how your body moves and which muscles you use when it does. As you learn how to engage your glutes and protect your lower back, you are also strengthening and “waking up” your glutes.\

What movements do we use to dial in the hip hinge?

Hip Hinge with PVC On Back.
Romanian Deadlift
Banded Hip Hinge
Banded Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

To learn more about how perfecting the hip hinge can help alleviate lower back pain and take your training and performance to the next level, check out our website at sisustrong.com or sign up for a free consultation using our nifty online calendar!

The Value of Discipline

We’ve all run across people in life who have huge dreams and ambitions, but always seem to be in the same place they were the last time we saw them.  Why is that?  Are their dreams and goals unrealistic?  Are they just incapable of reaching them?

I think most of them are 100% capable of reaching their goals – the problem lies in taking consistent action to move themselves gradually toward that goal.  For instance:  if my goal is to be a chef, I’m never going to get there if I just talk about how much I want to be a chef while munching on microwaved Top Ramen and watching Chopped on Netflix.  

The same goes for any goal, whether it be academic, athletic, professional, or purely personal.  Dreams very rarely come true without some action on the part of the dreamer.  When I was growing up, my parents told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be, and I believed them wholeheartedly (still do!).  But they also made sure I knew that “wanting” to be something wouldn’t be enough if I wasn’t willing to put in the work necessary to reach that goal.

How does that apply to the gym?

Strength training has done a great deal for me physically – it has also allowed me to coach, to compete, and to enjoy new sports and activities at a relatively high intensity.  However, those physical benefits pale in comparison to the mental benefits.

Pretty much anyone can go into the gym on any given day and pick up some weights and put them back down.  Will that one day alone help them reach their goals?  Not in any meaningful way.  

BUT, if that person continues to go into the gym and pick up that barbell, day after day, until the days turn into weeks, and the weeks turn into months, the weights will eventually start to feel a little bit lighter.  That person might start to notice a change on the scale, or in the way their pants fit.  Or, more along the lines of what we do at SISU Strong, maybe they start to notice just a little less arm pump or a little more endurance on their board or bike.  

Your goals, whatever they may be, will only be achieved when you are ready to commit to consistently and relentlessly pursuing them, day after day,  week after week, month after month, and year after year.  That means you need three key things:

  1. Discipline – this is simple.  You have to commit to your goal and put in the work, day after day.  Even when you don’t feel good.  Even when you’re tired.  Even when you’re friend is having a pool party and you really want to go because it’s the last day of summer and you just got a new bathing suit and all the cool kids are going to be there and blah blah blah.  Discipline means mastering your impulses and emotions and focusing on the task at hand. 
  2. Work Ethic – if you want to reach your goals, if you have to be willing to put in the work.  That means not just showing up, but training with a purpose.  You can’t just go through the motions every day, never challenging yourself, and expect to make real progress.
  3. Longsighted-ness – according to my word processing software, this isn’t a word, so I guess that means I created it.  This is basically the opposite of shortsightedness (which, confusingly, is somehow already a word).  You have to have the willpower to sacrifice your short-term comfort and convenience for the sake of your long-term goal.  If you want to be great, you have to be willing to do what others are unwilling to do to get there, and realize that it still won’t happen quickly.

Strength training will give you all of these things.  If you don’t have them, you will acquire them or you will not succeed at getting stronger.  

You don’t get stronger by showing up just when you feel like it.  

You don’t get stronger by just going through the motions.

You don’t get stronger by stopping when it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable.

Above and beyond the physical gainz, this is what we do at SISU Strong.  We develop these qualities.  We show our athletes, particularly the younger ones,  that through discipline, drive, and dedication, they can and WILL reach their goal.  Those are lessons that will stay with the athlete through their athletic career and for the rest of their lives.

When The Gym is a Waste of Time

In our last post, we talked about the value of strength training for action sports athletes.  Whether you’re a weekend warrior or an aspiring/current professional, a well-planned and well-executed strength training program can help prevent injury, improve endurance in practice and competition, and take your performance to the next level – there’s no debating that.

So, when IS going to the gym a waste of time?

Well, depending on what you do while you’re in the gym, going can be worse than a waste of time – it can be detrimental to your health and your development as an athlete.  

Many people believe that if they can just make it to the gym every day, then just walking through that door is going magically make them better. Unfortunately, the truth is more complicated.

While making it to the gym consistently is definitely a critical part of any training program, I’m here to tell you that what you do while you’re there is way more important.  Here are the TWO questions you need to ask yourself to make sure you’re not wasting your time in the gym:

  • Do I have a plan?

This boils down to one thing: why are you in the gym in the first place?  Let’s say your answer is “to get better at my sport” — then, what is your plan to do that?  

What are the performance parameters that you are targeting for improvement?  

What exercises are you using to stimulate adaptation in those specific parameters?

How many sets of how many reps are you doing?  At what tempo?  With how much rest?  

How many times per week?

What metrics are you using to track your progress?

These are critical questions and, if they aren’t answered, then you’re basically trying to assemble an IKEA table without the instruction manual…it’s not going to come out the way you envisioned.

How does that look in practice?  

Maybe you start to feel like you’re out of energy while practicing or competing on your sport.  That is probably due to improper periodization and lack of programmed recovery.

Maybe you just don’t see/feel any improvement in your strength or endurance, despite months of work in the gym.  That is probably due to not applying sufficient levels of stress to elicit the desired adaptation.

These things happen to ALL athletes at some point during their career.  However, the ones that have a plan simply adjust their plan appropriately and continue to progress.  

The ones that don’t have a plan continue to fumble around in the dark, always making it to the gym, but never actually making progress towards their goals.

  • Do I know how to correctly execute my plan?

If you already have a plan – congratulations! – you’re doing better than the vast majority of the gym going population.  You’re aiming to improve specific aspects of your athletic performance, you’ve researched which exercises to use to do that, and you know how to measure your progress so you know if your plan is working.  That’s a great start.

However, there is still one more important aspect of training that could be keeping you from effectively using your time in the gym – do you know how to actually execute your plan?

Let’s say you’ve decided that you want to improve your lower body strength endurance in an effort to improve pedaling power and extend the length of time that you can effectively practice on your bike.  You’ve decided that the exercises you need to use for this are primarily squat variations and you’re going to test your progress by measuring your time pedaling up a certain hill.

Which exact squat variations are you going to use and why?

Do you know how to safely and effectively perform those variations?

How are you going to react if your body starts to tell you it’s overstressed?

How are you going deal with surprises, like injury or sickness?

These questions are arguably even more important than those in number one.  Having a

plan is one thing, knowing how to put it into practice is a whole ‘nother story.

Unfortunately, this is where many people go wrong and it’s one of the worst places to do so.  If you are incorrectly performing movements, for example, you are not only wasting time, you may also be putting yourself at risk for injury both in the acute sense and the chronic sense, as improper execution can lead to imbalances, poor movement patterns, and, ultimately, the waiting room of your local physical therapist’s office.

If all this seems overwhelming, that’s OK.  You’re not required to be an expert in strength training in order to benefit from it, just like you don’t need to be a mechanic to drive a car.  However, if you want to upgrade your (metaphorical) engine, improve your (metaphorical) fuel efficiency, and increase your (metaphorical) horsepower, you probably need to either go to a qualified mechanic or spend some serious time learning how to do it on your own.  Otherwise, the best case scenario is that you waste a bunch of time and end up paying a mechanic anyway.  In the worst case scenario, you screw up your engine and end up putting the mechanic’s kids through college.

Sign up for our newsletter for more about strength and conditioning for action sports athletes.  

If you’re ready to hire your “mechanic”, get started today with a free consultation.

Don’t Get Stuck With Tunnel Vision

So often we tend to focus on the obvious.  When what really may be needing the most attention seems to most to not have any direct relationship.  This is coaching at its finest and one of the things that I personally believes separates great coaches from good ones.

These last two weekends I have finally able to get on bikes with some of our athletes and this is always fun for me but it also puts me in a funny situation.  I am definitely not on the level of our athletes when it comes to their sports and they tend to babysit, which I am thankful for, but they also need to ride.

Well anyway when it comes to mtn biking I am probably the most out of my element because it is so much lighter than my dirt bike and it freaks me out.  Especially when it comes to cornering.  I have been maybe 5 times now and pretty much live in the butt puckered holy crap I may die space most of the time.  Again largely in corners.  I walk thru the check list in my head of what Im supposed to do, Ive watched out athletes ride, Ive listened to them coach people but it was never clicking.  I wasn’t able to stay forward on the bike in the “attack” position to let the bike do what it can do.  I couldn’t figure it out.

Within 1/2 of our first run last Friday with Amanda Cordell, Landen Powell and Mitch Ropo, Amanda ever so nonchalantly looks up from her phone , because she had enough time waiting for me to check emails, and says “don’t pinch your knees like that.  You are losing balance in the corners.”  Well in my mind I disagreed.  This is very different from what we do in motocross and just from what made sense in my head.  So I gave some snotty comment back, told her she was still not funny, and we started back down the trail.  Luckily she was way in front of me and couldn’t watch me take her advice.  So first corner comes up, I take her advice and HOLY CRAP, railed the corner. (for me anyway)  That was it.  Adjusting what I was doing with my legs allowed me to get into and stay in the proper position with my upper body.

One of the keys to coaching is realizing that we have an end goal to accomplish and instead of giving out cues to fix every little thing its about finding the 1 thing that fixes 5 things at one time.  Being able to figure this out for clients and athletes is huge.  We so often over coach or just don’t coach the right thing.  We get tunnel vision and assume if the arms are out of position that the arms must be the problem.

Open the eyes up and look at the whole picture.  You may see something totally different.

Kick some ass today.

The Gym Doesn’t Replace Your Sport Itself

I get asked quite a often by some of the action sports athletes we work with to make sure that their training is as relevant and functional to their sport as possible. This isn’t exactly what the purpose of a strength training program is. There is not much that goes on during a motocross race or downhill run, on a wakeboard or snowboard, or in a ring that a barbell or other gym equipment can truly replicate. To be honest, that’s not our goal. For athletes outside of barbell sports, doing that sport is vital to your success. The training program we use in the gym is to increase your “functional” strength as it is relative to the sport you are doing to reduce risk of injury during the sport itself. No amount of “functional” training will duplicate what will be gained from spending time on your dirtbike or wakeboard. Just like in wrestling. I can get you strong as hell and conditioned out of your mind, but its still not going to compare to having that opponent grinding you into the mat.

So our goal is to make sure you can get the absolute most out of your training of the sport you are doing by getting you stronger and better conditioned in the gym. No amount of strength or conditioning will make you a more technically sound rider. But it will help you to maximize your practice time.

Join our newsletter by clicking here and we’ll hook you up with our free Off-The-Bike Training Template to help you get started.  You can also check out our training options by clicking here.

How to Beat Arm Pump

Welp, I’m not gonna lie, I don’t believe there is one particular thing that actually gets ride of arm pump all together.  I can easily make the argument that the stronger we get your grip via fat grip carries and holds the less you would have to work to hold onto the bars and therefore you would not fatigue your grip so quickly.  Then I can just as easily argue that the more muscle and strength you have in your forearms the harder you will be squeezing and therefore building up more arm pump because with added muscle comes the ability to fatigue faster. So now where do we go?

I strongly believe that arm pump is a factor of being comfortable on your bike and riding with proper efficient technique. BUT, we can definitely help with that.  Our number one focus with all our athletes is proper movement mechanics and efficient movement.  We want them to understand where their stability should be coming from when they are in the proper riding position, and how to most effectively stay in that position.

We have gotten great feedback from some of our athletes that are out running clinics like Landen Powell.  He has been able to immediately reduce arm pump in the riders he is working with by helping them use more efficient techniques that use more of the entire body than just the arms and shoulders.  Being able to combine great on bike coaching with great off bike training and coaching we have found a killer combo that can’t be beat.

We do utilize a lot of upper body conditioning that hits grip greatly and I strongly believe that it definitely helps.  Everything from kb swings, slam ropes, clubs, to heavy farmers walks.  I don’t believe there is ever a need to have a weak grip.  But still nothing beats being efficient on the bike and comfortable.  Nerves creep in and we get tense and we squeeze.  It just happens.  This is another reason that we begin all our sessions in the gym focusing on breathing.  We want all our athletes to know how to properly breath and brace to relieve stress and tension in our bodies. This is exactly what we want our athletes focused on at the start of the race.

So with all that said what are our favorite exercises for arm pump?

  1. KB Swing
  2. Fat Grip Farmers Walks
  3. 1-Arm DB Rows
  4. Planks
  5. Lat Pulldowns
  6. Chest Supported Iso Holds
  7. Chaos Shrugs
  8. Battle Ropes

But what beats all of these is good riding mechanics and using your bike and body efficiently.

If you aren’t training with us already, check out our programs to get the most out of these movements, while also becoming stronger, faster, and more stable (on the bike and off).  We also offer online programs for those of you who can’t make it to the gym.

See you guys on the Dirt!

A Parent’s Perspective

It’s now been about 9 months since my kids have been training with Deacon and the

SISU Strong team and it has had so many positives impacts for my kids and for our

family. It has always been our philosophy as parents that if we surround our children

with good people and role models, the chances of our kids being happy, successful, and

productive would increase dramatically. Well, we hit the jackpot with the Andrews

family and his team!

There are many gyms and trainers out there but the trick is finding one that is doing it

for the right reasons. Here are the traits were looking for:

-Positive atmosphere

-Focus on developing good work habits for young athletes

-Teaching lessons that training and working hard for what you want in life is a

lifestyle, not something you do every once in a while or just before a race

-Measures their Athletes INDIVIDUALLY.

-Striving to be their best…not someone else’s best.

-Being supportive but also honest with their athletes on where they are.

-Someone who will pat them on the back but also kick them in the butt when necessary.

-Put their well being, physically and mentally ahead of any results.

You might notice something is missing from the list. (Results). Results come

naturally when the above is done right. Here are the results/ improvements we have

seen:

-Responsibility and follow through – kids rarely miss a session and when they do

they make it up. They feel a responsibility to the program to put maximum effort in

and has taught them the important life lesson of “always follow through with your

promises and goals”.

-Increased self confidence- We have seen this on and off the track. Believing in

themselves and having the confidence they will succeed.

 

-Time management- Being able to balance school, training, racing and being

teenagers successfully.

These are the things that are most important to us as parents and we could not be

happier with the results!

Deacon and his team do it right!

PS….You may ask, what about the results on the track? Well, just look at how ALL the

athlete’s in the program have been performing. I dare you to find any program’s

athletes doing it better and seeing the improvement like this one!

Foresta

Sea Otter Recap

Last week I was lucky enough to head down to the 2016 Sea Otter Classic.  I felt like this was my initiation into the mtb community.  I honestly had no idea what to expect.  Luckily I had Amanda Cordell and Joey Foresta showing me the ropes and I don’t think I could have been in better company.  Both of these riders were doing firsts this weekend.   This was also Amanda’s first Sea Otter trip so I wasn’t alone there.  She went down to race Dual Slalom, her first time ever, and Downhill.  Joey went down to make his Pro Debut in Dual Slalom at 14 years old, race downhill, and the pump track invitational.  To say the weekend was a success would be a massive understatement.  But not just because of how well these riders did, it was who they were that was the most refreshing part of the whole experience.

One thing I always tell people about Joey Foresta is that he always takes good care of me.  The first time he took me riding he always stayed right behind me to make sure I was ALIVE and to give me pointers.  I have never once felt like I was an inconvenience to him no matter what the situation.  That’s all fine and good at home where we train, but honestly when we go to these events its all about the athletes at that point.  It is my hope to make sure that they have everything they need to feel as relaxed as possible the days leading up to and on race day.  This was a huge weekend for Joey and I would have completely understood him being laser focused on the task at hand. Nope this kid just had a blast and literally included me in everything.  Im old to him, 20 years older to be exact which is way worse when you say it out loud, but he doesnt care.  He let me feel way cooler than I should probably and experience this with him.  

He started off the weekend with blowing our minds in the pump track invitational with a 3rd place finish next to 2 of the best in the business.  The next day he heads over to his pro debut in dual slalom.  There was no pressure here, but of course like any great athlete he wanted to do well and push himself and see where he stacked up.  If he had qualified for the main event that would have been a massive victory.  Well he did that.  We were stoked, he was pumped and then the round of 16 starts, he rode steady, rode his race, the other racer made a mistake and Joey moves on.  Sweet, luck is a part of racing.  Sure we all know it, but then the next round comes and Joey is staying super cool and collected and just racing his race.  Round of 8, the other racer makes a mistake, Joey takes the win again.  At this point I have just kind of stepped back away from the fence and to me it was very easy to see that Joey had made these top ranked Pros in the world nervous.  He wasn’t letting all the hype get to him, he was just racing and kicking ass, while they had to deal with all the pressure.  He went onto the finals and battled for a 2nd place finish in his Pro Debut.  It was incredible to be in the crowd and have noone know my relationship with Joey because I just got to sit and listen to them all talk about how blown away they were this kid.  And man it was awesome. So awesome.

The ticket here was that Joey controlled his emotions and stuck to his plan.  This is an impressive feat for any high level athlete but especially for a young athlete stepping onto this level for the first time.  To often we see athletes and just people in general being lead to much by their emotions.  We see it in fighting all the time.  The head games start to try and get the other fighter to get emotionally involved bc then we don’t think clearly.  And WE MAKE MISTAKES.  Using your emotions to drive you to work harder is fine. But if your emotions pull you off your game plan then its not so helpful.  This is a very tough lesson to learn and many don’t.  You can be passionate about what you do without be emotional.  Find your focus to win and do it.

The other rider I was there with was Amanda Cordell.  I had been working with Amanda for a few months now and knew that she was a driven chick that loved riding her bike and has some serious goals.  She was always fun to work with and it was very easy to see that she had a deep rooted passion in what she was doing.  Well, after 16 hrs in a car with me and getting to know her better I quickly became more and more impressed with this girl and was even more stoked to work with her moving forward.  Not only was she just a badass amazing person to get to know, she too took me under her wing and let me experience this weekend with her and actually introduced me to people.  I think I only embarrassed her about 15 times.  Anyone that knows me, knows that I just kind of say what I think whether or not you want to hear it.  I always tell an athlete that I work with that my job is to tell them what they need to hear and not what they want to hear.  So Im sure I drove Amanda a little crazy.

One of my favorite parts of being at this festival with her was that I got to watch this girl that to me was “famous” and a “big deal” walk around and just be in awe of the people she got to meet and talk too.  You want to feel good, just go to a bike event with Amanda and you will watch her light up and love every second of it.  This is a girl that is definitely not taking anything that she has worked so hard to get for granted.  She is only working harder.  The only thing that I really told her throughout the weekend was that she belonged there.  This is one of the most independent women I have ever met and man she has no fear to go after it on a bike.  She had never raced dual slalom before and after some heckling she got after and finished 8th among many of the women that she looks up to as a racer.  I was incredibly proud to get to be there with her to support her and watch her chase her dreams.

She also really challenged me to grow in my own confidence as a coach.  She helped me to see how very often I am limiting myself by my own insecurities. Having athletes that are also family is why we have one of the coolest programs out there.  I strongly believe that.  After we celebrated Saturdays success we finally got to sleep to get up early for her to race downhill.  Amanda killed it. She finished 12th and took away some massive confidence knowing that she does belong on the world stage with these other ladies and man I can’t wait to be racing with her again soon.  We have stepped up her training and she is not even close to her peak.  Stoked to watch this journey with her.  She taught me so much and made me laugh a lot.  Will never forget this weekend.

All in all this weekend really solidified to me how lucky I am to work with the athletes that I do and how much we truly are like a family.  We celebrate together, we struggle together, and we pick each other up.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  We have some other big trips planned this summer to travel with all our amazing athletes and I can’t wait.

See you guys at the tracks.