The Optimal Athlete | 5 Insights That Elevated My Performance Last Week


AR Weekly: Race/Workout Report

Belgian Waffle Ride Utah (166km Gravel Race)

Race Description:

Less than one week before the race, the organization had to shorten the course because snow had rendered two sections unrideable. On race day, we enjoyed a late start at 9:00 AM, allowing the temperature to rise above 0°C.

@belgianwaffleride Utah can be broken down into three parts:

• The START to the 10km SINGLE TRACK
• The 10km SINGLE TRACK to the LAST CLIMB (4km at 6%)

The first 20km were straightforward until we turned left and encountered a strong crosswind. The lead car, inadvertently while taking photos, helped create a front selection by blocking the wind. Caught in a suboptimal position, I had to exert nearly maximum effort for 4 minutes to catch up. Shortly after this effort, many riders managed to rejoin, and the group chemistry quickly deteriorated, swelling the front group to over 50 riders. After 10km of easier riding, I timed an attack perfectly and broke away solo, ideally positioning myself to enter the single track first. I navigated the beach sector—a rugged double track—alone, and was then caught by a small lead group just as I entered the 10km single track.

In the single track, @andrewlespy pushed the pace, and we emerged as a group of 10 with Andrew leading solo. Our group was disorganized, and after some disagreements, @pstetina managed to break away with @bjlarson and catch up with Andrew. Behind them, our group’s dynamics didn’t improve, and by the bottom of the final climb, the three leaders had amassed a lead of over two minutes.

At the start of the 4km climb, I moved to the front and set a hard pace, with only @juliengagne and @torbjornroed able to keep up. Over the climb, Toby appear to be struggling. Initially, I believed he was the one to beat, and pulling him along seemed counterproductive. In hindsight, it’s clear he was genuinely in bad shape, and I should have assumed more of the workload. Less than 2km from the finish, I launched an attack from our group of four—we had caught up to Andrew and dropped Bjorn—in a final effort to catch Pete, but it was too late. I crossed the finish line 45 seconds behind him and 45 seconds ahead of the rest of the top five.

Number Analysis:

Altitude: (1600m to 2200m) 

  • Intensity Factor: 0.781
  • TSS (Training Stress Score): 299 TSS
  • Calories Burned: 4,508 cal

#1 Takeaway: More Focus, More Fun

A higher commitment to getting all the details right makes the experience more enjoyable. Gravel races are long, and my default approach was to try to have fun for at least part of it—this quest included looking at the scenery, joking with fellow riders, and everything else I do in training to make it more fun. Last weekend at BWR Utah was the most fun I’ve had in a gravel race in a long time, and I committed to strict focus throughout the race, constantly redirecting my attention to the moment with one key mantra:

“Fear nothing, respect everything” / “fear no one, respect everyone” (choosing between the two variations depending on the situation).


AR Weekly: Energy Tip

AM 2-Minute Mobility Session.

A crucial part of my morning routine is a quick two-minute mobility routine (I will return to my full morning routine in a future episode). I make sure to perform it outdoors, facing the sun, with a clear focus on my breathing, synchronizing the exhale with the deeper part of each stretch.


AR Weekly: Book Suggestion

Elite Minds by Dr. Stan Beecham

 3 Quote I’m pondering from the book:

  • If you are not intentional or conscious in your mental preparation, you will do it unintentionally or unconsciously.
  • But be very aware of the fact that the search for fun will not make any of us great. Instead, what makes us great is the search for truth, and the truth is usually painful.” 
  • The people who are stressed and unable to recover are the ones who think about their work or sport all the time. They worry, and, in so doing, they deplete their energies and harm their performance.

AR Weekly: Technologie(s) that Enhanced My Work

In the past, I often felt like I had to choose between staying warm and being aerodynamic. I no longer have this issue with the Rule 28 Long Sleeve Aero Jersey and Aero Bib Tights. So far, I’ve used this combo for all the gravel races I’ve participated in during 2024.

BONUS: Behemoth – The Satanist

Thank you for your attention, and as always, take care of yourself by making the most optimal choice in every moment and do the same to take care of the ones you love.