Endurance Training: WomenMTB Guide to Training for True Grit Epic


Wouldn't it be nice to believe that all endurance athletes are freaks of nature, gifted with larger lung capacities, stronger legs, and an empty schedule that allows for easy training? Truthfully, the members of WomenMTB consider themselves to be average women with busy schedules, training challenges, and a big goal.  We asked seven of the athletes to share some insight on how they are preparing for True Grit Epic. These women might consider themselves to be "normal", but we think they are superheroes for training for such a big race.

What are tips for training with kids?

Raeshell Sutherland: The biggest thing that has helped me fit training into my life with two young kids is to get up really early. I am NOT a morning person, but had to make 5:30am spin class a priority. I also planned each week on Sunday. I sat down with my husband and scheduled rides when he was home, we made it part of the family calendar. It has also been VITAL that my hubby was supportive of what I was doing. He has been so amazing to hang out with the kids on his "days off" even if he was sleep deprived. My family and kiddos are my huge support system, can't do it without them.


Why do you like about endurance racing, and what piece of advice would you give to anybody interested in getting into the sport?

Nancy Russell: I like endurance racing because I like to push myself and see what I am capable  of doing.  I’m messed up that way. The worse the suffering gets the more fun I start having.  I keep doing it because I need something of my own. Endurance racing is my thing. As a mom of 4 I get a little worn out helping everyone else and I think it’s so important for us Moms to have something we love to do that is ours. My advice would be to make sure you pace yourself and save some gas for the end, it’s tough and technical till the very end! Also never stop fueling! I set a timer on my watch to remind me to eat and drink every 30 min. All day!  It’s key.


What is your favorite part of training for a big race?  

Julie Morreale: The best part about prepping for True Grit for me has been the group rides.  50 miles is pretty good motivation to get out and ride even when it's cold, or snowing, or might rain. 

What has been the hardest part about training?

Jessica Ashurst: Two components have played into training being difficult. First I was sick for most of December and January. Also, a hard thing about training in the winter has been to go out riding even when it's really cold, and conditions of the trails can be a big unknown. Some days the conditions are perfect, other days the snow is soft or thawing. The warm winter was nice, except that the local trails were often unrideable. Recent cold temperatures have been a double edge sword: it's hard to get myself geared up to go out, but generally the trail conditions will be better


What have you done to feel mentally prepared for such a long and technical trail?

Danita Ritter: My motto has always been “Find strength in pain and Keep pushing” I know that I can do anything I put my mind to. I think about this race every time I go to the gym and get on my bike to train. I watch YouTube videos of Zen & Barrel Roll when I’m on my rollers.

What has been the greatest challenge in training this winter?

Angela Wright: Easy answer: TIME! Always feeling like it’s hard to fit training in due to work and “single-Mom” life!


What #1 item are you going to have with you on race day?

Kelly Konopa: Water and a bladder to carry it in and drink it from!  From experience I know that the biggest way for me to bonk on a long ride is by dehydration.  I don't know the forecast for race day yet, hoping for cooler temps, but it'll certainly be warmer than the long training rides there this winter, and there's no shade on the course.  The feed zones for refills will be really nice.