The Homestretch Diaries
SoCal's Maddy Ward is a resident at the Homestretch Foundation. It's mission is to "level the playing field of salary discrepancy in sport, so that female professional athletes have the same wages and equal opportunities as male professional athletes." They assist up and coming pro cyclists with an environment and the tools to help with their progression as they prepare for the next level of the sport. Maddy Ward was chosen due to her hard earned race results on the national level and shares with us her experiences while at Homestretch.
Although 2019 got off to a rough start with me being sick and not able to ride much, I have once again delved into training and refocused so that I can prepare myself for what I want to accomplish this season. To get myself back into gear, I came up with the New Year’s Resolution to really commit to recovery now that I can appreciate how improper recovery can really derail a training plan. Recovery includes having a good post-workout shake to replenish carbs and protein, followed by eating whole foods. This all within 20-30 minutes of finishing my ride. Then there's stretching, rolling out, and using the Normatechs. I also had the chance to spend some time in the sauna, something that has been proven to expedite and encourage recovery. I’d say so far so good, as I'm being pretty consistent with this new recovery friendly routine, but I have a long way to go before I can say that I’ve really nailed the process. Another resolution is to have a training log to track how I’m feeling during workouts, what I ate that resulted in a good (or bad) performance, and the amount of sleep I get. A training log helps to pick up any patterns in how I’m responding day to day. The idea is this will facilitate a way to capitalize on the positive patterns and mitigate the negative ones. Hopefully I will be able to reap the benefits of investing the time to reflect on my training and track how I'm progressing.
I'm excited to see how incorporating a training log and good recovery habits into my routine will contribute to making improvements, both mentally and physically. I'm also excited for another new development to add to my training: I'm going to be training with POWER this year woop woop. My mom got me a power meter for Christmas and it will prove invaluable throughout the season. I am so grateful for how much my parents support my cycling endeavors. Up to this point in time I have only been using heart rate to train. A power meter provides more objective data than heart rate and can therefore better demonstrate how I'm doing in my workouts, how my body is adapting to the training, and my level of fatigue. It will also help my coach make more specific workouts, so he's stoked on my new power meter as well. A power test is in the near future…
Earlier this month I escaped the Tucson winter for a weekend in Reno. It was fun to get to spend time somewhere that really experiences a white, snowy winter (albeit a little too cold for my liking). While there I had the chance to spend time with two Stretchie alumni, Aliya and David, who stayed at the Homestretch in 2016. The Homestretch alumni network is such an important part of the Foundation's mission. The Homestretch brings together athletes like nothing before, creating the opportunity to make connections with others in ways that may not have been otherwise available. This is evident in how much Stretchies past and present have already helped each other on their paths to success. I've certainly appreciated how much I've gained from everyone at the house.
I also put a considerable amount of effort into updating my race resume while I was in Reno. Like any resume, a race resume should highlight your strengths and successful results throughout your career. You want to make it easy for teams to see what you have accomplished, so sending a well organized document that clearly demonstrates the most impressive results greatly improves your chances of catching a team director's eye.
I also hope to make it on teams’ short list by getting good results early on in the season. I have three races coming up in February and the beginning of March that will ideally yield good results. I'm racing the Santa Catalina Omnium in Oracle right outside of Tucson, as well as Valley of the Sun and the Tucson Bicycle Classic. Then it's back to California for me. It'll be great to begin racing again -- only two more weeks until the Santa Catalina race!
As always, having great friends to ride with adds such a fun element to training. Last weekend my friend Eric who I met on the UCLA cycling team came to visit and I had fun showing him what makes Tucson so great for biking. While we didn't have the best weather for Mt. Lemmon, as we had to turn around at Mile 6 due to rain and cold temperatures, our ride was salvaged by the cool foggy views on the mountain and happening across a group of friends riding in the same direction as we were going. Eric got a taste of how easy it is to find people to ride with and how welcoming the community is. All of us even did a pull up challenge, which was not pretty. Eric and I also did the Shootout that Saturday. I was much smarter this time around by hiding from the wind, not pulling through and not burning matches unnecessarily. That in itself shows progress.
Just like how my coach had to change up my training to accommodate being sick, he also might change it up because of how my rides earlier in the week turned out. For example, this week kicked my butt because it was my first week back with intervals, so rather than doing the Shootout this week, I opted for the Scootout. The Scootout is a less surgey, more consistently paced version of the Shootout. My focus for yesterday's ride was to get some surges in without having to put in an all out effort or expending a lot of mental energy to fight to hang on. There's a long season ahead, so we have to pick and choose when to go hard and when to take it a little easier. The Scootout was just the right prescription for my goal that day.
There have been more Tucson off the bike extracurriculars this month as well. For one I went two-stepping at The Maverick, a cool country bar. I should definitely stick to my cycling “day job”, but it was fun to learn something new and mix it up. Everyone at the Homestretch also attended a nutrition talk put on by one of the Stretchies, Kristen. She's a nutritionist and registered dietition and imparted valuable insight into how to fuel the body for its basic functions. Next week she's doing a talk specifically tailored to how athletes should approach their nutrition. I'm anticipating that I will learn a lot from this lecture especially and I plan to put her tips into practice.
Finally, to all my San Diego friends and teammates: I'll be visiting next weekend! It'll be a good time spent testing out my new SDBC team bike, enjoying an epic ride with the team, and attending the annual club banquet. So see you all soon!
Maddy Ward is a Cat 1 from San Diego California. She rides for SDBC and unintentionally owns a lot of QOM's in SoCal. When she's not riding she takes deep dives into classic novels and loves local coffee.