What does it take to be a World Champion mountain bike racer? Find out as we go behind the race tape to learn how Kate Courtney trains. At the gym, on the road and on the trail, we learn it all from the young champion.
Dedication, determination but most importantly, hard work. Just how hard you ask? Find out in Episode 2: No Train, No Gain.
Competition at the top of elite mountain biking takes more than long days on the bike. It’s about training that makes you ready to endure and perform under any circumstance come race day. This means designing a program that is dynamic putting you in new situation that challenges your mind and your body.
“I think hard work is one of the most important factors in making progress … that is always something I have taken pride in, really being willing to do whatever it takes.”
Mental strength, while perhaps the most important tool of all, it is undoubtedly also the most challenging to master. Yoga and meditation are an important piece of the training puzzle that allow Kate to keep her mind clear and focused come race day.
“At the very top of the sport, physically, people are separated by small percentages. Being able to have your head on straight on race day and have a really clear plan and make good decisions can make a big difference.”
– Kate Courtney
Road and trail
Riding on the road with her Contessa Spark RC 900 or SCOTT Addict allows Kate to train consistently using intervals to maximize output and efficiency. This gives her the power she needs to put down the pedals on a technical root section or sprint to the finish line for the win.
Race day. This is what it all comes down to. Part of the battle is putting in the work, the second part is trusting that what you’ve done is enough, that you’re ready. While Kate’s hard work, dedication, and determination is no question, it isn’t until race day that the true test is taken. Winning the first two World Cups of 2019 proved that Kate is a force to reckoned with.
“I think that real confidence comes from experience and all of those experiences go into my little confidence bank when I line up. No matter what, I can achieve something great today whether that’s finishing after a bad mechanical or making up places in a race where I didn’t thank I’d finish well. I think those types of moments are always personal wins because they reflect the hard work and that’s the goal on race day.”
– Kate Courtney
Q&A with Kate Courtney
What does a typical week of training look like?
Typically, I ride every day and spend 2-3 days per week in the gym. My rides often involve a series of intervals and are done on the mountain or road bike while my double days usually involve slightly shorter rides. I ride anywhere from 15-25 hours a week and spend roughly 3-6 hours in the gym. Outside of this, I spend training time doing yoga, stretching and focusing on recovery. You can only train as hard as you can recover!
If you could suggest three workouts to a friend to improve their riding, which would they be and why?
For those just starting out, my biggest advice is to just spend more time on the bike and to identify specific skills you’d like to the work on during your time out on the trail. While you can get increasingly specific with intervals, time in the gym, etc. – the most valuable thing you can do as a beginner or intermediate rider looking to improve is to put in more hours on the bike.
Outside of the added volume, I highly recommend working on functional core (not just planking!) and making sure to have a good stretching/recovery routine. A lot of the work that I do in the gym and for recovery are for injury prevention and to help me stay strong and healthy while pushing my body over a long period of time.
What is something important about training you think most people underestimate?
People underestimate recovery! I approach my recovery as seriously as my training and I think it makes a huge difference. If you can recover between sessions, you are able to push much harder overall and have a much higher chance of avoiding illness and injury.
Videography: Etienne van Rensburg / raineduponmedia
Photography: Etienne van Rensburg, Ego-Promotion Photography, Margus Riga