Outside's January 2004 cover package, "Fit to the Core," is chock full of advice on how to find the Whole Athlete within. From downtime at spas, to Pilates, to meditation, we show you how to integrate your mind and body for optimal performance. Here, five great outdoor athletes share wellness secrets to help you keep this year's fitness resolutions.
Eric Jackson shows off his superior balance
Tinker Juarez credits his success to keeping his training fresh
Ian Adamson's diverse interests make help him to deal with stress
FIND YOUR BALANCE
Eric Jackson, 39, Kayaker
The Rock Island, Tennesseebased Jackson (a.k.a. "E.J.") made his kayaking career stretch into its second decade by keeping his family close. In 1997, he moved with his wife, two kids (now aged 10 and 13), and two dogs into a 32-foot-long RV and lived on the road for five years. "I rarely feel bad about a poor performance," says E.J., "because my family is right there with me, and that is just as good as another world-championship win." (He's had two.) "Having them along with me taught me balance; otherwise I'd take winning and losing too seriously." Training invariably involves playing around Class III+ standing waves and holes with his kids, both excellent paddlers. "Thanks to my kids tagging along," says E.J., who has now settled the family on 20 acres along central Tennessee's Caney Fork River, a prime playboating mecca, "I like 'training' better than anyone else I know."
KEEP IT FRESH
David "Tinker" Juarez, 42, 24-Hour Mountain-Bike Racer
Tinker's been racing bikes for 30 years, having started as a 13-year-old BMX dirt-track grom before segueing into cross-country mountain-bike racing for 18 years, through two Summer Olympic Games and three national championships in the late 1980s and 1990s. For the past three years, he's taken up 24-hour racing, competing in the punishing solo division and taking home the national championship every year since he began. "I'm always looking for new ways to enjoy training and riding," says Tinker of his long attraction to life in the saddle. "I'll hit the road in my RV, drive to some completely different playground, set up camp for a couple of days, and do some big rides. Then I'll pack up and drive somewhere else. Different challenges and new places mean never having a reason to quit."
Ian Adamson, 39, Adventure Racer
Adamson, once a biomechanical engineer, has been called "the Yoda of Adventure Racing" for his systematic and even-keeled approach to winning adventure racing's biggest competitions: the Eco-Challenge World Championships (1996, 2000 and 2001), the Southern Traverse (1996), and the Raid Gauloises (1998). But ask him to describe his current fixation and "adventure racing" wouldn't necessarily be his response. Says Adamson, "There has to be mental and emotional balance in everything." For Adamson, that equilibrium manifests itself in a love of cooking, writing adventure-racing training guides, massage, practicing yoga, playing his flute (he was a concert flutist in his teens), odd jobs as a motivational speaker, and socializing. "If you don't spend enough time with friends and family, it becomes a very singular, selfish, and ultimately negative existence," says Adamson. He credits these diverse interests for making him a winning adventure racer. "Younger athletes don't make particularly good adventure racers, because they don't have life skills," says Adamson. "I'm talking about basic communication, conflict aversion and resolution, and patience. Dealing with stress is a critical skill, and that can only come from experience. Sure, I'm older, but I try to leverage those talents and it helps me succeed."
READ THIS AND SLEEP
Dave Bolch, 37, U.S. Postal Service Team Massage Therapist
A typical year for Bolch starts in January with the USPS training camp and ends after the Vuelta d'España in September. During those nine months he'll be responsible for giving two- to four-hour-long, deep-tissue massages each day to various members of the cycling team to help flush their muscles of lactic acid and to increase blood flow so they can repair themselves and recover. To do his job, Bolch's travel schedule involves 14-hour days during stage races like the Tour de Francehe also helps with the team's luggage, meals, transportation, and laundryand sleeping in 104 different beds over 240 days. Bolch's tip for staying healthy with his hectic life on the road, where every day is a new destination? "Sleep. Get your work done and then go straight to bed as consistently as possible so your immune system stays strong. When everything else feels out of your control in your life, the only constant you can hope for is rest. Don't take it for granted."
NO BETTER TIME THAN THE PRESENT
Sarah Schleper, 24, Slalom Skier
When she's not centering her body over a pair of schussing Rossis, speed demon Sarah Schleper can be found centering her mind through meditation. The two-time Olympian and former U.S. Slalom champion tacks on several minutes of deep breathing and reflection to the end of daily 30-minute yoga sessions, something she picked up six years ago in Vail alongside Jonny Mosely. The practice not only helps her keep a clear head on the course, it keeps away the nagging demons of an off-day or a looming race. "Meditation helps me focus my thoughts and live in the present," she says. "That way, I don't worry about the past or the future." Yoga and meditation, in addition to magnetic field therapy and a diet rich in organic wild game, have helped Schleper physically as well. The exercises drive away body aches, and even make learning easier. "A lot of the positions in yoga a similar to what you do when you're skiing. I've become more aware of my body, and that makes it easier to pick up better technique."