My season is filling up nicely with some really cool adventures on the calendar. I have been given the opportunity to go to Sri Lanka for a 4 day MTB stage race in June. My friend Naomi and I will be attempting to be he first women’s team (ever) to ride over the finish line at the Offroad MTB stage race in Norway in August. And in September I will head over to the Dolomites to participate in The Ride for team StrongHer. To name a few of my adventures planned. Combining my sporting ambitions with a job, a (almost non existing) social life and a relationship is something I am pretty much accustomed to. I love training so I have never felt like prioritising my sport was an issue. Through injury and not being able to push myself. I learned that I actually really enjoy suffering in my training and going hard in races. And as much as I have been trying to convince myself I am happy to just cruise in races for the fun of it, my competitive heart wants to be the best I possibly can be. Purely to keep on beating my previous self. Like with almost everything in my life I thrive on improvement wether that is in my job, sport or in my personal life.
Due to being injured I have had to re-asses my passion for racing. I had to figure out what it meant to me and what it really was I wanted to achieve. Finding answers for all the doubts in my head “you will never be as fast as you once was, you are to old for this, may be its time to find a less extreme hobby, what is the point?, you will keep on being disappointed” I realised that these questions were coming from my outside world rather than it being something I was really questioning. The answers were in my heart. I loved training as much as I loved racing. The athlete life style. Everything about it. The relationship with a coach, the camaraderie with fellow athletes, the sessions which will leave you exhausted on the floor in a pool of sweat. Feeling the gains in your legs, your heart, your soul. Not having been able to truly physically push myself for almost two years, I really wanted to get back to this.
Although my racing focus has shifted from chasing championships to more adventurous events in nature, I still have a lot of goals I would like to achieve. Why? Because I love to push my own limits, to go that little further every time I try. And I am planning to keep on doing this right into my nineties if I am so lucky to be still around! Chasing dreams has no age limit.
I have friends who say that they don’t really train as such but they “move” and they race really well on unstructured training programs. I know that does not work for me. Partly because my job does not allow it, I need to structure my weeks to fit everything in. And partly because it does not suit my body. I am not naturally fast, I need to work hard to get speed in my legs. I have been told by a couple of coaches that I genetically have been blessed with a diesel engine but I need to put a turbo on it myself. That is what I am working on at the moment. Together with my coach James McCallum from http://whatsyourmeta.com I am re-training my body to push through pain. To improve my top end power and speed. To suffer. And as crazy as it sounds I love being able to do this again! It has been a while.
With a lot of long distance races on my calendar including The Ride, a 900km stage race through the Dolomites, I will have to nurture my endurance as well as working on my speed. Training through a Scottish winter has its challenges however!! My friend Naomi and I attempted a crazy plan of riding 300kms non stop through two of the most beautiful national parks Scotland has to offer. We discovered that doing this mid winter was not the best idea we ever had! My poor boyfriend had to come and rescue us in the middle of the night when we reached freezing temperatures and too dangerous conditions to press on! Strength work in the gym, high intensity turbo session and shorter endurance rides outside is the bulk of my training at the moment. I have learned to embrace the Scottish winter in different ways however and with brand new skis I have been able to maintain my endurance through ski touring! Where there is a will there is a way!!
So what do I want from 2018? To stand on the start line and have the believe I can give everything I got, at the pointy end of myself. Working towards being my utter best and see where that can take me
“it’s impossible” said pride “it’s risky” said experience “it’s pointless” said reason “give it a try” whispered the heart.
About Nienke Oostra
Nienke Oostra is a fierce competitor with big dreams. She started cycling late in life as until her early thirties she let her veterinary career lead her all over the world until her dream of becoming an elite athlete took over. Her goal for upcoming season is to qualify for the UCI MTB Marathon MTB World championship’s again and better her ranking from last year. And after 2 bad triathlon seasons she wants to feel good again and have fun again.
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