Cross-country skier and mountain biker Katerina Nash has an athletic career that spans three decades and five Olympic appearances. She joins Fast Talk Femmes today to talk about increasing the odds of longevity in endurance sports.
Katerina is part of a select group of athletes who have competed in both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. She earned two top-10 finishes as an Olympic cross-country skier and made fifth place in Rio for mountain biking. As a cyclocross racer, she has medaled numerous times in world cups and World Championships and is still active in cycling today. She is also currently Vice-President of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) as well as President of the UCI Athletes’ Commission.
Katerina credits her multi-sport experience along with cross-training as keeping her mentally and physically engaged throughout the years. She advises being open to evolving along with training and nutrition, and believes patience is key for young female athletes going through puberty. We also discuss the importance of multiple sports to help you grow as an athlete and continue your endurance sports journey.
Dede Barry 00:05
Welcome to Fast Talk Femmes with Dede Barry and Julie Young. Our guest today is Katerina Nash, a Czech cross-country skier and cyclist who has competed in five Olympic Games. She competed in cross country skiing from 1994 to 2003, and is still active in cycling as a cross-country skier and mountain biker. She had three top-10 finishes at the Olympic Games, and as a cyclocross racer. She has won two World Championship medals and several World Cups. She is also currently the vice president of the Union Cycliste Internationale, as well as the president of the UCI Athletes Commission. Our discussion with Katerina will be focused on longevity and endurance sport. Hi Katerina, and welcome to Fast Talk Femmes.
Brittney Coffey 00:47
There are more female athletes in endurance sports than ever before. Yet until recently, female athletes simply followed advice and protocols that have been designed and tested on men. This is rapidly changing and in our newest release from the craft of coaching with Joe Friel, we explore the art and science behind coaching female athletes with expert insights and advice from the likes of Dr. Stacey Sims, Alison Freeman, and Lauren Valet. Check out the Craft of Coaching module 12, Coaching Female Athletes at Fast Talk Labs today.
Julie Young 01:20
Today, we’re super excited to have Katerina Nash join us and I’ve known Katarina for quite a while as we move in similar circles, biking and skiing and Truckee that the town where we live or where Katarina mostly lives, I guess I should say, and in Truckee terms, we’re actually kind of neighbors because I can hop on my gravel bike, take a dirt road through a meadow, pass the lake over a hill and drop down to Catarina his house. But we’re super excited that Katerina could take some time and between her globe trotting and join us today, and Katarina, Welcome to Fast talk them.
Thank you for having me. Nice to Nice to see you, Julie. And nice to meet you, didi. Yeah, well,
Dede Barry 02:01
it’s a pleasure for me. I’ve, you know, early in the end of your cross country career, beginning of your cycling career, I was still competing, and hearing a lot about you. So we had sort of like parallel careers early on. And I’ve been out of the competitive side of the sport for a long time now. But I followed your career and it’s a pleasure to finally see you and meet you. You’ve had an amazing career. So thanks for joining us today. Yeah,
thank you happy to be here.
Julie Young 02:27
So Katerina, I feel like in our, our intro for you, we barely scratched the surface of your career. So just you know, in your words, from your perspective, could you provide some highlights of of your athletic career and just tell us what you’ve been up to lately.
So I am one of those two sport athletes. I started with cross country skiing, which brought me to Truckee, and then I, as time went on, I was always riding my bike, but start racing, mountain biking, back home and Czech Republic, mid 90s. And then at the, the end of the ski career, which is like early 2000. I finally picked bike like kind of like seriously, I was like, Okay, this is I want to give cycling a go. So I am five time Olympian, in both cross country skiing and mountain biking. And let’s see, I think I’ve raced my bike over 20 years now and kind of competed a little bit of everything. But the big focus for me was Worldcup mountain biking Olympic and World Championship with good success. So the World Cup level, and then I later on added cyclocross as well, like at this point, I was probably in my late 20s When I discovered cyclocross, and that was like my new cycling passion for a really long time and had a lot of success at the World Cup and even get to bronze medal at the World Championship and cyclocross. So yeah, little little bit of everything depth a little bit on the road, but more locally, regionally saw mainly off road a little bit of gravel last few years. But honestly like trail riding and cyclocross racing, probably my two favorite kind of cycling focuses, so to speak.
Dede Barry 04:19
Katerina is skiing still a big part of your life, even though you haven’t been competing at as high as Yeah,
absolutely. I mean, I don’t consider myself a ski racer by any stretch. But I have continued to ski every single winter and I credit cross country skiing to injury prevention. I don’t know if I would say it as far as like mental health but just kind of being a well balanced athlete because for me, it’s very important to change things up like I don’t need to take a month off and do nothing but sometimes I just needed to get off that bike and do other exercise and whether it’s cross country skiing or backcountry skiing, it really fit in that perfect scenario where I can relax away from the cycling yet I can like work with my general fitness and continue to be like a well rounded, healthy athlete. So yeah, I love I love skiing. I always, I always hope to do more than I ended up doing. But we did have a quite spectacular winter on the west coast. So I probably skied more powder this year in the backcountry than ever before. So I’m pretty happy about that.
Julie Young 05:31
That’s amazing. Lots of shoveling came with that winter. Yeah, exactly. Upper body rotary strength. So Katerina, we’ve wanted to have you on this podcast for many reasons. But today, we’d love to focus on your remarkable career, the competing at that high level across those disciplines, as well as the length and success of your career. Earlier this year, you took a win at Cactus cup in the Pro Division. And then very recently, over at the prestigious Cape epic, took third with your partner Sofia Gomez. So I would imagine that at the heart of it, it’s it’s your love of it. But what what do you think is the recipe for your longevity and success in sport?
Honestly, I like in some ways, I just, I haven’t found anything else that I’d be so passionate about a sports I was kind of a young prodigy just pretty structured training from young age and many kids in that high school period, they choose to just run away from the sport. But for me, it was always something that I thrive on and really enjoyed. And I think change of sports or going from skiing to cycling, it was also very fresh, you know, like not getting stuck in a rut and doing the same thing over and over has certainly added to my longevity. Same with cycling. You know, I started as a mountain biker, but then I added cyclocross. And recently, last few years, I’ve added endurance or gravel. So it’s like, I always need to kind of evolve, even in the same sport, so to speak. And in that sense, there was always something new to learn, and something to work on. And that’s, that’s what I always said, like when I feel like there’s nothing you to do or learn or you just can’t improve, that’s probably when I stopped. But I figured out a way to kind of continue to evolve as the as the industry and the sport and both and obviously, sport of mountain biking is very technical, and you can keep learning forever. And I’ll never be done learning. So it is a good sport. But I don’t think I plan as a young athlete to go this long. Honestly, I had the same dreams that everybody else, I just wanted to win the big metals and see how fast I could be and traveled the world. And once I did all of that I realized it was the lifestyle, it was that feeling of being fit. That really, I really, really enjoy. So I think personally, it’s something I’ve really enjoyed and I’m passionate about. But I also have to add to that equation that I had great opportunities to stay in the sport. I never had any bad injuries, meaning I didn’t have to take a lot of time off. And I could consistently continue training and putting the work to be successful and be relevant. So you know, it’s not just me, it’s the people that are this fortunate to be surrounded by whether it’s sponsors, coaches, training partners, and that all just kind of Yeah, evolved into this sweet lifestyle that has been, you know, it will be difficult to leave one day and I know I’m approaching the end, but I just made the best out of it. So there’s no regrets no matter what.
Julie Young 09:05
Think Diddy and I have have talked about this, it seems to me like a common denominator among champion athletes is that true growth mindset. Like it’s not it’s not something they’re just saying it’s truly something they’re living in terms of seeing like every day, every training session, every race, it’s like this opportunity to learn and improve.
Dede Barry 09:24
I think also like you clearly have a lot of passion for the sport and well for all the sports you’ve done. And that really shines through. But that’s a really important element as well.
Yeah, it’s about enjoying yourself and what you doing and not every day is gonna be perfect. There’s so many days that were tough in my career, whether it’s a bad race or bad workout or minor injury or lost bike or broken like all those things right. And I think that’s important too. Like, I think a lot of people enter He’s career specifically as athletes, and they just kind of, they want everything perfect and they picture everything perfect. And then they start not having great events or the success they imagine and suddenly they’re not enjoying themselves or they want to change direction and go do something else. And so it’s uh, yeah, I think it’s like, for me, it’s always been interesting to set reasonable expectations, like, dream big, but have reasonable expectations and then reevaluate like, am I? Am I doing good job for my sponsors? Am I satisfied with what I’m doing? And are these results what I wanted to do? Or like, I didn’t win that World Championship? Medal? Am I just gonna quit and do something else? So it’s, yeah, it’s it’s kind of fun, analytical process as the years go go by. And I always came back to the fact that I just love to ride my bike. And if I can continue to do it as my job I will.
Julie Young 11:05
I have to say just quickly, like one thing that really stands out for me about Katarina, just seeing you like, as I see you on this cross country trails where I see you out riding the bike trails, like I always see your smile first. Like that’s, like such a hallmark. So I mean, to me, kind of that speaks to loving it.
Yeah, absolutely. I see your Ski hat from far away, Julie. Yeah.
Julie Young 11:33
That’s most important.
Dede Barry 11:36
Katerina, based on your experience, and your longevity in the sport, do you have any thoughts on how to work with young athletes to maintain the balance and just help them develop as athletes while also keeping it fun and positive experience?
Yeah, I think it’s challenging for sure. And I admire a lot of the coaches, because I think every athlete is little like, we’re all different. And we kind of react to things differently. So that makes it challenging if the coaches are working with bigger groups. But I think once again, just having a welcoming environment, having an environment where the athletes can keep improving, having reasonable expectation and reasonable kind of support network, so to speak, like, I grew up in Eastern Europe, and I had crappy skis and crappy bikes, and everything was crappy, but we had it, you know, and the part of the drive to be better was that like, if you ski faster, you might get better skis. Or you might get carbon poles one day, you know, things that a lot of kids these days, they just come into the sport with a lot of perfect equipment, and there’s no striving for better equipment, because everybody thinks like, well, if you don’t have this, you’re never even going to be competitive, you know. So, yeah, just just having these little steps to chase along the way. I think that’s, that’s really important. And I was kind of successful young athletes. But then with, you know, as we age, our body change and changes in life, like, I didn’t go straight into the elite ranks with a lot of success. So I think part of my journey is that I didn’t have that early, early success in mountain biking. And so every year, it was just opportunity to get better, you know, and I felt like, even when I got there, I got to the top, but I never won that World Championship, I won World Cup, and I was all over the podium. But like, I felt like I was always chasing that Mexico, so to speak. And that also kept me in the game, you know, and I see some of the young athletes, they come in the sport without expectations, and they just kind of had that perfect day. And then they go out and actually learn how to do a lot of things and how to deal with a lot of things that sometimes success comes early. So I, you know, I’m thankful that it took me a long time and sort of kind of progressed, nationally from the like, top 20, to top 10 to top five. And then I took a while to get that World Cup boat, for sure.
Julie Young 14:14
We were chatting about this yesterday, Katerina and just for everybody, but also for the kids, just social media in Strava, always comparing themselves now just kind of that so much more kind of in their face and prevalent. And that’s, that’s tough. And to your point, like, it is so important to understand everybody’s individual and their trajectory is so different. And one pathway doesn’t like if you’re not following that person’s pathway doesn’t mean you won’t be successful in the sport. So I think you’re such a great example of that.
And once again, I think it’s, it’s important to be inspired by others. And I think there are a lot of great role models that we have in cycling these days. But I think the important part is like be inspired by these other athletes don’t just copy them. just tried to be them, you know, you might be five years younger, and you can write 30 hours per week? Or should you know? So I think those are the important questions that the, that the young athletes have to have to deal with. And I agree with you, like, I’m so thankful there was no social media, there was no Strava when I was growing up, because I really enjoyed just kind of quietly doing the work and then show up at the field. And I think the athletes these days, like they, they almost have no chance of that they at least know what everybody else is doing. There is that comparison culture? And yeah, I, I hope like, I hope they can all navigate it in the way because it is. It is difficult, it’s in front of your face all the time. But they’re also like they growing up with it. And so hopefully, they’re developing the skill sets as well to to navigate that world. But it appears to be more difficult right now to the young athlete.
Julie Young 16:03
Yeah, but that is that is a really good point. It’s not necessarily all bad. There’s a lot of inspiration there, too.
Dede Barry 16:08
How much do you use data at this point in your like to inform your training and your recovery versus just intuition.
So at this point, I have been sort of coaching myself for probably last four or five years. So I spent my entire career with a coach, whether it was like early years of skiing, and then when I switched to cycling, I realized I was I didn’t know much about cycling training, you know, I tried to adapt the cross country ski training to cycling, but they’re two different sports, you know, in that sense. So early on, I recognized that I needed help there. And then I worked with the same coach for probably 16 years of my career for a really, really long time. And I, I learned a lot, but I also got to the point that I was like an older, mature athlete that I was like, I need to, I need to do this on my own. I don’t want to follow strict regimen anymore. And I should be able to do my own training, you know, and there are days that I wish that I had that like I could call deed if you like what should I do? But honestly, at this point, a lot of my training is just based on feeling intuitions, I use the I use the science little bit, and I use some of the data. I always look at things later on. But I’ve never raced on Power Meter. I always raised on my feeling whether it was 30 minutes, two hours, five hours like I’ve never followed a number on my have watched my heart rate monitor. But Faro raters came in pretty late in my career, and I I have used it for training. And I think it’s super valuable tool. But I honestly like half my bikes don’t even have power meter. And I’m perfectly fine with it. Because I at this point, I will I will use my my knowledge of my feeling and myself and my body during those races and a lot of the training days as well.
Julie Young 18:15
So that’s it’s we had this we met with Trent Stelling wharf yesterday, and he’s a physiologist and nutritionists were asking him, he was talking about overtraining and reds. And just the the feedback mechanisms he uses. And he like really advocates using all of the feedback mechanisms like heart rate, perceived exertion, power, by think those new to the sport have have gone all in on the data a lot seem to have an eye and kind of thrown out, like the sensations. And to your point, like in race situations, it’s you gotta you need those, you need to rely on that and understand that. So I think heart rate can be skewed by all those external factors in a race situation. So that’s not super valid. And then, you know, as a dirt rider using power, that’s probably not great, either. Yeah,
I mean, I think as cycling keeps evolving, like we’re actually quite far ahead of lot of other sports. And I’m talking about sports that there’s variation in conditions, right, like so 100 meter sprint, it’s easy to compare time. So it always will be. There might be a little bit of wind, you know, in effect, but like, unless you’re racing on track on the track. Cycling has always been this stretch discipline because the weather it’s windy, muddy, wet, like there’s so many variables that will influence the time so time doesn’t mean anything in cycling, so to speak. So I think as soon as power meters were introduced, and now we have this really accurate measurement that people can really rely on now 10 years ago, not so much, you know, power meters on the dirt didn’t really work that well. But I think a lot of the technology keeps improving, and they’re more and more accurate. And I think that that really helps cycling to build more scientific training programs. And I am thankful for that. And I think a lot of people can benefit from that is just where I’m at, in my career, like, I’m, I’m okay, like, I don’t, I don’t know, a lot of my numbers. Like, I just, I just, I just know myself. And that’s, that’s really all in matters. But I am excited that cycling does have a kind of jump on a lot of the other sports just because like running or basketball or their their lot of sports, they would love to use the data, but their measuring device, it’s not quite accurate, you know, so we’re pretty lucky to have all this, all this knowledge that obviously is, is being used, once again, like it’s, it’s all about the fine balance, you know, like, I think it’s always nice to have more to know about your body. But you also have to have the right approach to like, be able to handle all this data and know what to do with it, you know, so it can be, it can be overwhelming for young or older athletes to have all the devices and I have, you know, um, I’ve got my Garmin watch. And I’ve been kind of monitoring my heart rate variability and heart rate and like last probably six months. And that’s something I’ve never done before, as far as my sleep and that kind of stuff. And, yeah, it’s interesting, but does it like make me get up? Check the numbers and like, run my day based on that most, most most days? Not really. It’s just it just in addition to how I feel or what I need to do, or what phase of you know, am I in a race season? Or am I just training, like, might be a little tired. But if I’m just training that’s natural, like sometimes you have to push through, but it’s different in the race season when he you know, like I do better if I come into races rested. So once again, it’s just a tool addition to that feeling. And I, I enjoy I like I’m enjoying being the boss now making that decision and stand by it like believe my gut. And of course I question it every now and then but for most parts is working out because I’m 45 year old and still racing at very high level. So makes me pretty happy.
Julie Young 22:28
Well, I think to You’re fortunate because you do have this just depth of experience. So you have incredible perspective. And like you kind of know, like at this point, like just hitting your power numbers and training isn’t going to guarantee you a performance, you know, so I think you can kind of use use it all appropriately. And I think that’s kind of what you hope to instill with people that are coming into the sport is just kind of keeping that perspective kind of can’t go all in. It’s like I said, just hitting your power numbers. And training doesn’t necessarily guarantee your performance. It’s all those other components of performance. And I think you of course you have this, this incredible, like, wealth of experience. So you have that perspective on it.
Yeah. And I think my coaching was good in the sense that my coach helped me understand, you know, like, of course, there are many times that I was like, oh, did I do okay, this work? No, I needed that. Somebody validated the effort. But many times, I would just be like, Oh my god, like, I’m tired, I did good job, I probably just did fine. And whether that was like 10 or 20 squats below the prescribed number, like, you know, I was fine with that. So once again, like everybody approaches it a little differently. But I think it’s crucial if the if the coaches can like not just give you the tool, but like give you the give you the learning why I’m doing this workout and what should come out of it and just understanding the workout and the process. And I think that’s, yeah, that’s where I definitely benefited from working with my coach, where now I can make these decisions and be confident about that decision. And not, not worry, not question it not having another person analyze it. So,
Julie Young 24:20
like you said, just having those good people around you through the process. It’s like that partnership and that collaboration. Yeah, we’re valuable.
I think going back to your earlier questions like what can young athletes do, I think is just, you do want to surround yourself with good, good people and that’s sometimes hard to recognize when you’re a teenager right? But I think we all have that. That gut feeling about people and bad environment and then it’s not working out. Just have courage to change it up. You know, chin Change is hard, but it’s also like it’s your life. It’s your career and find new training group. Try a new coach. Yeah. All those things, it’s, it’s going to happen. If people do stick around for a long time, you will always be tinkering, whether it’s the equipment or the training or something, and it’s, it’s quite engaging process. So don’t, don’t get stuck in a rut and unhappy in some scenario that doesn’t work out for you.
Ryan Kohler 25:19
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Julie Young 25:43
Hey, Catherine, I just wanted to just back up a little bit talk about your development as a young athlete. Because now we’re becoming more considerate and mindful of the physical changes for young female athletes, which can heavily influence performance. And you’d you had alluded to this, you know, starting young and, and I know you said you didn’t necessarily have fantastic results right off the bat. But I think those those young girls that they’re they have a certain body type, and they’re just killing it, and then their bodies change with puberty. And then they have to adjust to those changes. Did you do you remember experiencing anything like that as you transition through puberty? Oh, absolutely.
I think most most healthy young athletes will go through that period where, yeah, you just this little scrawny, strong kid, if you’ve been athletic with your family from young age, and everything seems fine, you climbing hills, and then like puberty hits, and like I increased my training, and I didn’t mess up with my diet in any way. But I still put on weight, you know, and I think even back then I understood that, like, you need fuel to, to push your body through the trading. I just always looked for like, good food, but always enough food. So I never ran my body to the point that some of the young athletes just try to be so skinny, because they’re trying to look like somebody else. Or somebody makes them believe that if you this skinny, you might be better athlete. So it’s like, it’s going back to that, like, look, photo inspiration. Learn as much as you can. But always, always, always be mindful of your own body of your own body type. There’s just some things we can change. You know, like, I’m pretty short and muscular. Like I always wanted to be tall and skinny. But like, we can have it all. And what do we do have is like, figure out a way what that body that you have, can give you. But I do remember that being pretty difficult period, because we all just kind of put on a little bit of weight. And it’s it’s, it’s a big change. And then as you start aging, there’s more changes. So that’s just one of the first kind of reality check that you have to keep just like you learn about your training, you have to keep learning about your body and respecting it and take care of it. And, and have good nutrition. Don’t try to like not eat just because your body just changed in that period. That’s like the worst thing to do. So just, yeah, just keep leading healthy lifestyle. And those hormones will settle down eventually. And we’ll just start leaning out at some point. And but yeah, I think like healthy, healthy lifestyle is, is crucial. And having having once again good people that will, they’ll help you navigate. Some people do need more, more attention during that, that period. To navigate through that. And it is it is difficult time. Yeah. For me. It’s been a really long time. So it’s hard to remember all the details, but I do remember just kind of suddenly having big butt and I was like how am I going to ski with this big butt. And then I still skied fine. And that’s just how it goes. That’s what our bodies do. We just evolved and it’s good to like learn what the body can do rather than like change the body in some drastic way. Obviously, there’s little changes that we can do. You get more muscular again, once you move past that area. Like I used to have like a look at pictures and I had pretty chubby cheeks and I have like, really skinny face just like my mom and I’m like I could use some of that fat in my I guess I guess we’re just never happy when we’re in it, but it’s not the end of it’s not the end of the sporting career when that happens. It’s just a chapter.
Dede Barry 29:54
That’s really good advice. Now that you’re competing and winning events at 45 Though Have there been any unique training program adaptations that you’ve made, like just to overcome challenges or injuries as you’ve aged?
Yes, absolutely. And one thing that I’ve had to kind of change is the intensity. So I always train high quality, not quantity. So I did a lot of like a lot of kind of intervals to prepare me for anywhere from, you know, 45 minutes, cyclocross race to sub two hour mountain bike race. So, yeah, I spent a big part of my career kind of working on that top and high intensity with endurance like, I think at some point, I realized that my an hour and a half endurance just wasn’t there, once I started to become a cyclist, which sort of makes sense, because cross country skiing is much shorter. So it was anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes. So it was excellent at short track and love short track is I just could go really hard for 25 minutes. But the longer endurance was something that I actually had to work really, really hard at. And to get better. From that early 20s, to probably late 20s, it took me quite some time. And yeah, kind of dialed everything in in the 30s. And then late 30s, things started to change again, and suddenly, my recovery just got slower, and slower and slower, meaning that I just couldn’t have two, three good workouts made week and then expect to be successful at the races on the weekend. So essentially, as I ah, I start skipping the harder workouts and replacing them with just endurance rides. And I would say the last few years, I’ve really don’t do any live animals. So I tried to challenge myself, like whether it’s group rides, or even Strava segments, or something like that, but I hardly ever go out for like a specific interval workout these days. And that’s also where I’m at in my career, like, I’ve done too many intervals. So, like, emotionally, I can get too excited about it. And once again, I’m okay with that, you know, but I really, I really started to kind of see inability to recover. If I tried to do too many animals, or like the high in intervals, I could probably do a lot of like, tempo, but if I tried to lick it all out, or lactate threshold animals, it’s my recovery is much, much slower these days. So um, I’m kind of like, you know, careful about that. I also do a lot of long distance racing, where those shorter intervals are really not all that beneficial. So, yeah, my training is a lot less structured, but I do try to guide and loop through all the different zones, because I do think it’s still very crucial to, to know what it feels like to push yourself completely, you know, like, how are you going to like sprint at the finish of the race, if you have not put yourself in that feeling of end of the long race, and now you actually have to crank it up in sprint? So yeah, it’s less structured, but I do try to spend a little bit of time in each each of those training zone to, to kind of prepare my body for the race effort.
Dede Barry 33:31
Yeah. And what about strength training? Do you like have have you been an athlete that’s used or implemented strength training? Do you do more of it now that you’ve aged or Yeah, I
always was kind of cocky. I was like, I don’t go to gym because someone cross country skier and I can ski every winter for a few months, and I’ll be fine and, and I have a silly ways to kind of add strength training to my basic life so to speak, like I don’t take the cart at the grocery shopping, you know, I always carry the basket, like silly stuff like that. But as I do a, I have started hitting the the gym a little bit more just because I wasn’t feeling as good and like, not as strong and also like, injury prevention as far as mountain biking goes. So I might go to a gym, or I just do kind of little sort of workouts at home and that that’s really more what I just tried to add in. So I’ve never been like a gym person like lifting like Max. It’s more like repetitive kind of bat going back to that cross country ski trading or you just kind of do like a circuit strength training with lighter weights and just kind of repetitive and that kind of stuff. But I do credit a lot of my healthy mountain biking years to cross country skiing and that kind of strength you build on snow. backcountry skiing doesn’t translate great I have to, I have to get back a little bit more on my note excusing this next winter, when we don’t have so much powder.
Julie Young 35:07
Catherine, we’ve we’ve talked a lot about like the physical prep for your training and across your career. How about like, we’re there? Did you work on the mental side of sport, like anything kind of structured or concerted work in that area?
Honestly, not a whole lot. Although I have to say that I think back in my early years and kind of the most competitive part of my race career, I think we were able to navigate through that with also the coach, like I think we asked the coaches back then for a lot. I think athletes these days, the top level athletes, they kind of have a lot of different coaches and mental coaches and nutritionists, they have a variety of people to really dial in their training, blend and nutritional blend. And I think I just had enough good people around me that I, if I needed, I could ask questions. And that wasn’t just my coach, it could be, you know, like, my teammates or team manager, just, sometimes I just needed extra conversation, I couldn’t quite process things in my own head. And so I would reach out, but I’ve never, I’ve never spoken to sports psychologists not because I don’t believe in it, I just never had the opportunity to try nor did I have the need to try it, I just managed to process things on my own or with little bit of help of the coach or somebody in my life. So it’s, to me, it’s like, hard to, like, I definitely don’t judge it because I think I would like to try it at times and have that experience. I just, I just don’t. But I think it could be valuable. Because we can all get pretty stuck in our head, like, you know, for a little bit there. I was like, not having great starts. And that’s crucial in both mountain biking and cyclocross. And like the more focus on it, the more the worse it got, you know, because they need to focus on getting in that pedal, and it just messes you up. And so, it was always nice to have an outside perspective of like, well, like, yeah, it’s important that like, really, wouldn’t you rather finish weld and start? Well, you know, because there’s a lot of people that can start really well. Finish? Well, I was like, oh, yeah, yeah, you’re right, I’d rather you know, win the race than the whole shot. And after that, I was just like, don’t worry about that start, like, there’s time to move up. And then, yeah, I just didn’t fuss over it as much. And it just kind of started to click and, and I continue to like practice that pedal, like getting that pedal, you know, I continue to work on it, but I just didn’t like in my head didn’t obsess about it. So I can imagine for like a lot of scenarios. So it’s always helpful to talk to somebody else who can kind of steer you into a different mindset. And I think that’s enough for me to kind of move past that. But maybe not every athlete can. And then that professional help might be very, very, very good for them.
Julie Young 38:16
actually love to use you as an example with kids that I coach, because I loved watching you race at the UCI World Cups and cyclocross has so often, maybe you didn’t have a good call up, or maybe not not the start you’re looking for. But you would just gradually make your way up to win. Like it was so impressive. And I just I love I love using you as an example in that respect. Like, it’s not, it’s not the end of the game. You don’t have a great start.
Thank you. Yeah, I mean, it’s, it helps like it does help to have a good start, right? Like you put yourself in better fighting position. But it is, it is not the end of the day. And like I said that a watch lot of people just fly off the start. And like five minutes later, they can go as hard, you know. So it’s like, once again, we’re all different body types. And we have to figure out, how can you get your body, your ability to the finish the fastest you can without comparing yourself to others. But it’s tricky, because obviously the started both lagging and cyclocross can be crucial, because you can get stuck behind a crash or whatnot. And it it can really negatively influence your day, the rest of the day. So the rest of the race,
Julie Young 39:30
we’ve talked about this, and just like little bits here and there, and generally, but you have had this long career and so you have a unique perspective in terms of change. So like in terms of training practices, are there things you can identify that you’ve seen change across the span of your career? I mean, that may include like nutrition, again, you’ve touched on psychology. I think everything
is just evolving. You know, like the science is like, we have better access to science people understand science. It’s specifically targeted for athletes, whether that’s nutrition or the training. So I think in general, it’s like, it’s really cool the science to play a big role, because I think maybe there are people that just kind of needed a different type of training that wasn’t available back then, you know, it’s kind of like, oh, you go warm up for half an hour, and then we’re all gonna do this interval together, and then you cool down, and then you’re done, you know, but maybe some athletes needed to go for a five hour ride, and others needed to ride, you know, and I think that’s what’s so cool about sports science these days, like, there’s better understanding, and I think will continue learning forever, honestly, just just like the other science, right, so the influence scientific influence is definitely much bigger, and it’s some respected once again, you can be good or bad, you know, sometimes, like, some people don’t really relate very well. But too many numbers are too much science. Like, for me, it’s kind of like, I just need to be outside. And I don’t need to have a set plan every single day, you know, some days, I just go for a group ride, and I don’t really know, my go fast, may not. And I’m okay with either one scenario, you know, because maybe the next day, if I need some intensity, then I just can do it on my own. So I became very like flexible athlete, and I will sometimes search more for a community than the perfect workout, because I think I’ve always been used to doing that perfect workout on my own, rather than in some group setting. So, you know, once again, this works for me, but I’m not saying that young athletes should wake up every morning and be like, What should I do today? Just because that’s what I’m kind of doing these days. So hopefully, I answered your question there.
Julie Young 41:47
Yeah, you did. Because I think I think what I took away too, is just that evolution has allowed for more individualized approach in the training.
Absolutely. And I think it also turned coaching into really good business where back in the day, like people couldn’t find coach easily. You know, there are a few, few kind of coaches, and you could never be coached by somebody who’s coaching your World Cup Racer, like that’s available nowadays. And I think that’s, that’s important, because people can try a World Cup approach training plan, if they if they want you, you know, it’s not, it’s not some kind of secret, you know, it’s out there available. And there will be people that are willing to read enough about this sport science, and they’ll figure it out on their own. And there are others that would rather pay for their training for somebody to come up with the training and give them the perfect training to, to prepare for the race. And I think that’s what’s so cool about trading as well. It’s like, ultimately, it’s like, it is the motivation, we have this event that we want to do well at. And it’s that preparation, it’s that lead out to that, like everybody who signs up for coaching typically has something on their mind, whether it’s a big ride, or big event or some kind of challenge, and they want to get prepared. And I think that that’s the cool thing about it. Like you don’t want to show up unprepared. You want to do your best. And you’re taking it seriously and you letting somebody else to help you. And that’s that’s pretty cool. And across
Julie Young 43:19
the span of of your career. Have you seen and I’m sure you have an increase in opportunity for female athletes.
Absolutely. I mean, I, I benefited from the very first all women’s mountain bike team that started in 2002. It was the Luna pro team sponsored by Clif Bar and Lee, we were the first one. And we inspired many other teams in Europe that turned into all women’s team, you know, and so the opportunities have grown. And it’s been, it’s been fun, you know, it’s been fun to even watch women’s road racing, get the attention that those riders have deserved for a really, really long time. You know, I come from Off Road where, like mountain biking has been pretty much equal since the 90s. You know, because we had people that fought for it, and brought the you know, the World Cup was always in courses always same location. It was the same prize money since the 90s then cyclocross was a little behind. But once again, there was a group of us that we just, we came from mountain biking, we’re like, hang on, like, you’re gonna pay us 1/10 Of the men earning and like, yeah, it took a while but like we’re there now, like cyclocross equal across everything. And so watching road racing last few years, it’s just been so cool to even like have road racing, women’s road racing on TV, right? Like it’s pretty neat to be able to watch it and hopefully we’ll be watching the entire race soon. So always a little bit more work to do. So I think I I honestly think there’s no better time to be a female athlete than right now. But I also know that we can make it even better. And that’s, you know, that’s, that’s something we have to be working on, because I think is the top top athletes that have good opportunities, but not everybody quite yet on the women’s side, and we lose a lot of young talent because they have no team to write for. And they have no, no way to just turn it into a full time job. And so that would be nice to, to see if you can make more improvements on that side.
Dede Barry 45:34
Yeah, I agree. So so this is a good segue, I wanted to ask you about the work you’re doing with the UCI? Is that female specific? Or, like, what what are the initiatives that you’re working on there?
I have few different roles. So I really kind of Deb and everything from rule changes to decisions that will shape the sport in the future, like any other governing bodies, a lot of things get planned far, far ahead, you know, so we’re always talking about improvements. And whether it’s, you know, heavily focused on women’s cycling, or cycling in general, or globalization of cycling around the world. Like, it’s just little bit of everything, even like bike infrastructure, solidarity, you know, using a bicycle as a means of transportation. Like there’s just so much that belongs on the UCI that like I think most people have no idea because they’re the kind of focus on the, on the racing part. And that that’s also fine, because that’s really like also the one most exciting kind of part that people will follow. But yeah, there’s there’s a lot of things, and I’m part of you commissions that are sort of part of the change and planning for the future and constantly making sure that yeah, we have more opportunities for women. But we also have more opportunities for riders from different continents than the traditional cycling continents. And we have training centers, there’s a new training UCI Training Center coming to Canada. And so like all those, all those decisions, being part of that it’s, it’s been really cool. So
Dede Barry 47:12
I hadn’t heard about the new UCI Training Center coming to Canada. Can you tell us about that? I
don’t know the details. I think it’s in Vermont. It’s a new track. It’s actually a repurposed track from the Atlanta Olympics.
Dede Barry 47:28
Well, my my son race Canadian nationals on it. Two weekends, okay. Yeah, so, so I’m familiar with the track, but, but I didn’t realize it was gonna be a UCI Training Center.
Yeah, it’s one of the satellite Training Center, which typically, I don’t know if you followed much of what’s happening in Switzerland, but typically, they will host training camp for different athletes, and just give them opportunity to sort of be based in Europe, go to the events and become professional cyclists. And there’s been a lot of a lot of successful athletes moving on to professional teams, that were able to kind of have this experience. So yeah, it’s pretty cool that there’s another in South Africa, and now North America gets their own. So it’s pretty, pretty exciting.
Dede Barry 48:18
That’s great. Yeah, that’s really good to hear. Yeah, it
Julie Young 48:20
seems like those training centers provide so much opportunity. And just give us that sense of team and belonging to those individuals.
Yeah. And it’s not just the athletes, honestly, there’s classes for mechanics or sport directors, and a lot of that stuff happens at the training center as well. So it’s just like, yeah, just continue to grow cycling. And for those that either don’t have those opportunity on their continent, or in their country, because I think UCI has around two to 200 affiliated national federations right now. So that’s a quite large number. So cycling does happen all around the world. And not every country has those opportunities for their athletes or, or you know, coming so ours are in whichever way you want to get involved in cycling. So
Brittney Coffey 49:12
hi, listeners, we’re so excited that you’re here to check out fast talk FEM, a new podcast series, it’s all about the female endurance athlete. Here at fast talk labs. We pride ourselves on being the pioneers of information and education in the endurance sports world for both athletes and coaches. If you like what you hear today, check out more at fast talk labs.com.
Julie Young 49:37
Catherine as we start wrapping things up and kind of start kind of going back to just the reflection on your athletic career. What what is the athletic achievement that you’re most proud of? I think
winning like a World Cup, both mountain biking and cyclocross that was that was something that took a lot of work and I really liked it took me many years Were setting I was quite consistent podium racer for many, many years. But winning the big one was just kind of a just was not happening. So always second third, then. And I still really, really valued those results. And I was really excited, but like, everybody wants to win at least one. So when it fun when it did finally happen, it just, yeah, just kind of felt incredible. I was just like, kind of, I wasn’t even surprised. I was just like, I was just thankful that I could have that like, really good day and put it all together. Because I think I’m like the type of athlete like a lot of a lot of good things have to come together have the amazing results, like I’ve had a lot of good results, but that World Cup or World Championship medal, that that’s just, that’s just a special effort, you know. And so when when it did happen, it felt really good. And I was super proud of that that is still am in the way. And then the other one probably would be 50 at the Rio Olympics, like I was kind of in the middle position. And then two Canadians came by and they just were faster that day. But I was there on their wheel. I had the opportunity to earn the metal, but they just were better. You know, and I finished that race with like, I was so close, I was so close, but I did my best. And if my best is not Olympic metal, that’s just it. And it was Yeah, I was kind of interesting realization because I was close to the metal. I didn’t get it. But I was really proud of my race. And, and kind of appreciate that day for for a really long time. Because I did, I did my best. And that was you know, that was a good ride. So
Julie Young 51:47
if I’ve heard you talk about just emphasizing, you know, effort, as opposed to like it being kind of this lucky thing, and just, you know, it’s all your work and your persistence, and and being like proud of that effort. You know, at the end of the day, like, to me, that’s the most important thing.
Absolutely. And I don’t think that was always the way I approached it. I think I kind of recognized that later in my career where I was always the hardest on myself, like, everybody around me thought I did good. But I knew I wanted to do better. And that was both like, what kept me that was the thing that kept me going and wanting to do more and improving from year to year. But it was also like, just kind of like, I was down on myself many times throughout my career, because I just wanted a better result. So as I get a little bit older, and like every time I stepped on the World Cup podium, I was like, You need to appreciate this, this is a really big deal. Like there are people that will have raced a World Cup their entire career, and they won’t even ever get top 10. And I’ve had many World Cup podiums. And just because I wanted, like, Why didn’t want the third after a while I wanted to win it like, so. It was nice to like, have that sort of like if I don’t, I don’t know if he would call it Life Cycle but or like a career cycle. And, and starting to recognize that like, you can win it all, you will not win it all. And you have to like appreciate, like if you did not make a mistake. And if you prepare well and executed the race well. And if the placing was whatever six to like, you have to appreciate that effort. And so that that’s kind of neat, because that that definitely came with some maturity for me later in my career.
Julie Young 53:33
And is there a race that stands out as your favorite like a venue?
I definitely have few. I’ve never been good with like, pick one thing. And so I hope I don’t get stuck on some island because I like variety. But I’ll probably give you too. One of them will be more local to our region. And it’s the downieville classic that is returning this summer. I’m really excited about that. And then the other one would be BC bike race, just amazing. Mountain bike specific, amazing trails fun community. I’ve always enjoyed racing that one. So that’s a mountain bike stage race. And then there’s just many, many other races that like I enjoyed or I did really well out or something like that. But as far as like going somewhere and racing my bike, I definitely get very excited about those two races. And they’re both on my schedule this year so well. They’re
Dede Barry 54:29
both in beautiful countryside.
Dede Barry 54:33
Katerina to wrap up, if you were to give three pieces of advice to an aspiring endurance female athlete, what would they be?
So I think we covered some of that early on, but just to summarize it, I think it would be set reasonable, achievable expectations, find a good environment of people you want to ride your bike with and travel with and have fun.
Dede Barry 54:57
That’s great. Hey, it was it was really Are your pleasure speaking with you? And good luck this summer at BC bike race should be a great event. I’d love to do it one day.
I I just highly recommended if the opportunity comes up it’s it’s a good one. So
Dede Barry 55:14
we appreciate you sharing all your wisdom.
Julie Young 55:16
Yeah. Great to see Ekaterina. Yeah. Nice
to see you. Hopefully we’ll land this year for some kreski.
Julie Young 55:23
Yeah, or once we see dirt in
Exactly, exactly. So yeah. Thank you guys for having me. Have a good day.
Julie Young 55:30
Thanks. Great, Katarina. Thanks.
Dede Barry 55:33
That was another episode of Fast Talk Femme. Subscribe to Fast Talk Femme wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcasts. Be sure to leave us a rating and a review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk Femme are those of the individual. As always, we’d love your feedback, and any thoughts you have on topics or guests that may be of interest for you. Get in touch via social. You can find Fast Talk Labs on Twitter and Instagram @fasttalklabs, where you’ll also find all our episodes. You can also check them out on the web at fasttalklabs.com For Katerina Nash and Julie Young, I’m Dede Barry. Thank you for listening!