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


AR | Race/Workout Report

Rasputitsa Dirt + Extra (88km gravel race + an extra loop, Jay Peak, VT)

Race Description:

Known for its challenging weather conditions, @rasputitsadirt is a 90km gravel race in Jay Peak, Vermont, right on the border between the US and Canada.

The start was, without a doubt, one of the craziest I have ever raced. It featured a 3km downhill, weaving in and out of a golf path with two long and deep mudslides. After an intense start, I was well-placed and able to maintain a good position throughout the sector. At the end of it, I joined two cyclocross riders and decided to keep pushing the pace.

@alexis__cartier managed to bridge up to us, increasing my confidence in this early move. The following 20km were a deciding moment as our group of four barely managed to maintain our 15-20 second lead over the 10-12 chasers. We then hit the first long climb of the day, and I decided to push the pace and finally increase our gap to the chasers. This acceleration dropped the cyclocross riders, and it was now just Alexis and I in front. We worked in a very organized fashion and increased our gap to close to two minutes before the last climb.

The last climb was a 20-25 minute effort through very loose and muddy conditions. At the entrance of it, I set a power goal for myself and entered the pain cave. At the end of it, I had a 1-minute gap on Alexis. I navigated the last 5km, trying to limit errors while still maintaining good speed. The combination of deep mud and occasional snow made this final section particularly challenging (and very enjoyable).

In the end, I crossed the line with a winning time of 2 hours and 45 minutes. After the podium, since most gravel races are longer, we (the @poutinemafia) decided to do a road loop around Jay Peak at an endurance pace to make the most out of the day.

Number Analysis:

  • Intensity Factor: 0.789
  • TSS (Training Stress Score): 357 TSS
  • Calories Burned: 5,971 cal

#1 Takeaway: Making the Race Happen – Smartly. 

Being the “favorite” in a race comes with the responsibility to “make it happen,” or to “make it hard,” because the longer you wait, the higher your chances of ending up on the wrong side of luck. The risky part of this strategy of “fatiguing” the other racers is that if you’re not extremely smart about it, you are likely fatiguing yourself at a faster rate. Given the nature of this course, I knew I had to use the very technical first 3km to make it hard from the beginning. My commitment was clear; I aimed to create a small lead group with the challenging start. In the event it didn’t work, I was then okay with being patient and playing all my cards on the final climb.


AR | Energy Tip

I just finished a big training block in preparation for @unboundgravel, and one of the key aspects of making it successful has been optimizing recovery through eating enough.

This year, I’ve started working with @plaisirsgastronomiques. I met the owner, @obeauvais, on a Gravel Ride, and at the time, I perhaps did not realize how crucial this collaboration would be. Especially after a long training day on the bike, cooking a big and tasty dinner is a challenge. Notice I included “tasty” in the previous phrase—a lot of the recovery process is about eating enough, and without delicious food, meeting my calorie needs during intense training can be difficult. Most of the time, I cook some sides (e.g., potatoes, pasta, salads, vegetables) and complete the meal with a piece of PG meat (duck, chicken, lamb, pork, etc.). It’s almost as if I have a personal chef, which allows me to focus on recovery as soon as I’m off the bike—to do the “métier,” as the French say. (Oh, and if you look at the ingredient label, you’ll be able to read all the words—no weird ingredients). 


AR | Book Suggestion

The Daily Laws by Robert Greene

 3 Quote I’m pondering from the book:

  • “Do not envy those who seem to be naturally gifted; it is often a curse, as such types rarely learn the value of diligence and focus, and they pay for this later in life.”
  • “Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure. Whenever you can, bury the hatchet with an enemy, and make a point of putting him in your service.”
  • “Find a master to apprentice under, but instead of thinking about how much they can give you, think about how you can help them with their work.”

AR | Technologie(s) that Enhanced My Work

My Rasputista Bike setup was the same as I used for MidSouth, so if you want to know about it, read, watch, or listen to the Optimal Athlete (EP 03). This week, I would like to highlight my BWR California Setup. As mentioned in the bike check video, this race is a tricky one equipment-wise, as you are forced to underbike the technical single-track sector because 60% of the course is road. It’s always a thrill to try to find the right setup, and I was super happy with what I had on race day. You can find the bike check HERE.

    AR | Note To Self

    Embrace the unknown with as little judgment as possible. Avoid getting caught in catastrophic or idealistic thinking. Instead, cultivate the courage to approach every situation with an open mind by letting go of preconceived negative or positive expectations (expectation = assumption + desire). Realize that everything you experience is shaped by those expectations—your objective then is to detach as much as possible from them to experience the moment as objectively as possible. This ability to maintain objectivity, paired with your commitment to Areté, is your best weapon to arm you for the best possible outcome.


    BONUS: Tigers Blood – Waxahatchee

    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.