Interview Olympic Champion Jenny Rissveds part 1
We talked with Olympic Champion Jenny Rissveds. This is the first part of the interview.
After an incredible year of racing, you’re now in the off-season. Is it time to relax or do you still keep training?
I do what I feel like doing that day, I wake up and don’t really have a plan; I work and do interviews but training-wise, I do what I like. Once September is over, I’ll have spent only 3 days at home. I spend a lot of my time travelling and even though I’m not now racing, there’s still a lot of travel to do and other commitments.
I get to try different things too at this time of year, be that training techniques or new equipment. Last of season for example, I spent time at high altitude and that really worked well for me. Each season you learn new things and then adapt that into your training for future years.
When does serious training begin again?
In November it’ll become more serious, but not super serious! At this point I don’t have a training schedule and do exactly as I feel like. November time I will introduce a schedule, but the serious and structured aspect to training begins in January – I really think it’s important not to be too serious too soon. This keeps both my motivation up and helps me to avoid over training. If you train 100% all year long, you’ll no doubt end up with injuries – back or knees are common issues - so it’s important to have peaks and troughs.
Do you take part in any other sports during the off-season?
During off-season, I do lots of different kind of training – I run, I go to the gym, I swim and sometimes I cross country ski as I live in a cross-country area in Sweden. So, as long as it’s good conditions – lots of snow and not too cold – I go on skis as well. It’s important for motivation and for injury as well.
Do you road bike too?
Not usually in the winter as it’s too cold and there’s snow so it’s too slippery. In summer I do go on the road, not too often but I do enjoy and think it’s fun - it’s good to do something a little different to mountain biking.
What about winter camps? Do you attend those too?
Yes, in previous years I’ve gone for my first training camp in January for 3 weeks, then I’ll go home to Sweden and stay at home for a week or two, then again in February I’ll go away again for a couple more weeks to train. The race season starts in March. I prefer to be at home and train though during the winter! Others like to head off as soon a the first signs of snow come and they want to disappear – go somewhere where it’s nice weather – but I think it’s good to stay at home where it’s a little bit tough and there’s rough conditions, then you’re most likely going to appreciate the great weather when you get it!
Does that give you an advantage?
Yes, not that snow is an advantage, as you’ll not have that in a race! If I wake up in the season I’m not put off if it’s raining outside, I’ll still do my training, as I know that will make me better.
During the Olympic year, did you change your training?
This year was a little bit difficult to make a training plan, as the system is a little bit different due to the points system to qualify. You collect points as a nation and so the top 3 ranked women are collecting the points – for the nations that have more representation – like the Swiss – they are collecting those points between them. Later year I was the only one from Sweden out racing and getting points so it wasn’t easy, so I was travelling constantly to get the points needed simply to qualify. In April ‘Sweden’ wasn’t even qualified and it was at the end of May I got the all clear to go to Rio. As a result, I couldn’t focus until June – as it was uncertain if I would go. Both mentally and physically it’s tough as you don’t want to be too prepared to go then be disappointed if I didn’t get the go ahead. I chose to just focus on each race as I went.
From June onwards, I went to high altitude again as I know that works well for me and spent the first part of August and the second part of July at high altitude to prepare.
Where you confident going to Rio knowing the course?
Yes, last October we were at a test event so for me that was good to have the chance to go as then I had an idea about the course and the right lines to take. When I came for the actual Olympic race, it wasn’t a surprise for me. I liked the course and knew that as I’d finished 3rd in the test event, I had already a great result, which gave me confidence.
Did you feel pressure at the race or the underdog?
Both yes and no; there are other women who are much more experienced than me and have been to several games before and this was my first so for that reason, I felt like an underdog, but on the other hand I’ve done really well this season and been on the podium a few times in the World Cup races. I’m glad it was my first Olympic games as I could just tell people I was there to get experience and learn from it. I knew it and others around me knew that I could get a great result though!
Photo credit Markus Greber & Scott
About Catriona Sutherland
Catriona is an avid mountain biker from the UK, favouring endurance events. She has competed in various 24 hour, marathon and stage mountain bike races around the world including the Joberg2c, Epic Israel and the Strathpuffer. Currently working as freelance marketing consultant, mountain bike guide and serial adventurer, Catriona is happiest riding her bike, drinking coffee and planning her next trip!
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