Maria on cycling

Cyclist in her free time, self-employed graphic designer to earn a living. Maria talks about how her physical activity trains not only her body but also her mind. She names important lessons that cycling has taught her and reveals why, although she trains quite intensely, she doesn’t perceive cycling as essential for her life.

What does your practice routine look like?

I have a strict schedule – I always train on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. These workouts are non-negotiable and are fixed dates in my calendar. Plus, I basically cycle the whole year. The only difference is that during winter I swap my road bike for a cross bike and explore more off-road terrain.

Whether I cycle with friends, in a group or just on my own, I have my cycling sessions previously arranged, because I need this commitment. In the past, whenever I didn’t have a cycling schedule, important meetings or a lack of motivation kept me from cycling regularly. Now that I have my schedule, I’m way happier with my work-life-balance. Although, of course, as a freelancer I still need to be as flexible as possible. And don’t get me wrong: work definitely has priority.

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Photography: 169k / Martin Granadia

What are your favourite routes and places for cycling?

There are plenty of great routes around Vienna. I always try to combine them in different ways, because I wouldn’t want to get bored. For instance, I love the Wienerwald, Weinviertel, Höhenstraße and Tulbinger Kogel …

How did you get into sports and your specific routine?

It all started with running and triathlon training. In fact, I never worked out during my time as a student, so I thought now is the time to start to do something for my bodybesides work. However, after two years of working out I felt kind of trapped and realized that I wasn’t able to make the same level of progress in all three disciplines. So I decided to focus on cycling. During the winter months I still do a bit of running, but by now I’ve completely lost my interest in swimming.

Why are you working out?

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My goal is to stay fit. I see working out as a way to work on myself, to learn about life and myself in general and I really enjoy that. Another reason is that I love cycling with friends and exploring new areas and routes. I never ride my bike in the city or use it to get to work.

How do you stay motivated?

I consider myself really lucky, because my boyfriend Karl and Günter, a close friend of ours, are damn good cyclists too and they keep me motivated. Both helped me to improve my technique and pushed me a lot in my early days of cycling. I also learned massively from attending workshops and studying other cyclists. Moreover, I’m a competitive person in terms of sport and competition keeps me going. Another motivation trick for me is watching Eurosport, particularly my idol Pauline Farrand–Prévot. Plus, I get a boost from new clothes (the brands rapha and pns are two of my favourites), new equipment or gadgets: like the app called “strava”, where you get some sort of “award” every time you’re the best performer amongst other users for a specific route.

I’m a competitive person in terms of sport and competition keeps me going.

What are your thoughts before, during and after your practice?

Before my cycling session I try not to think too much about anything – this also includes my state of mind, simply because I cannot listen to any kind of demotivating thoughtsthat might come up.

My thoughts during my practice depend a lot on the intensity of the route and what my workday was like. Quite often it takes me a while to leave my day behind and concentrate on my ride. If it’s an easy route, I can reflect on unsolved things from work. However, when it’s a more intense ride, I need to focus on the route, my technique and my body.

After a ride I’m usually quite happy and try to analyse whether I’ve made any progress or mistakes. If it was only an easy ride on a non-spectacular route, I don’t bother to think about it at all.

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How does sport influence your daily life?

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I’ve noticed an incredibly positive effect on my life and my work. Before working out regularly I always felt as if I had no stamina – in life as well as in my workouts. Thanks to endurance training I recognized a lot of similarities in my workout routine and my daily work as a graphic designer. You always need to push yourself if you want to become better, whether it’s to become a better Illustrator, or a better athlete. I also learned to appreciate breaks and regeneration phases. Those are vital for a good performance in sports and work. Moreover, my workout routine made me work more consistently, I’m better at time management and I’m rarely ill. I’m sure I would not have been able to benefit like that from any other hobby.

Would you say you are competitive when it comes to sports? And in general?

In sports: yes, of course. But in life or in terms of work not at all.

Is there anything particularly positive or negative about working out that you would like to share?

Sport has taught me to be less concerned and not to overcomplicate things in advance, but to deal with problems the moment they occur. In order to make progress you then need to stand by your opinion and the choices you’ve made – even if it wasn’t ideal. But the good thing is, you can always adjust and make new decisions. It’s actually pretty similar to a race-situation, where you constantly have to make choices and try to learn from them. In short: analyse the past, but live in the present.

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What was your most memorable moment?

Finishing the Ötztaler cycle marathon twice! Although I did train a lot for the race, I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to overcome the distance of 238 km and the elevation profile of 5.500 m. Especially at my first attempt. In the end it took me 9:30h and I was incredibly happy and proud of myself. The second race in August 2017 was even tougher but I managed to finish 13th in the overall women’s ranking with a time of 8:52h. (In addition: check out our interview with Daniel, who also competed in in this race.)

If you weren’t into sports what would you be doing instead?

I have to confess, I could easily live without working out. This might come as a surprise and sound a bit funny, but it wouldn’t be a problem at all for me to find another hobby, as I am interested in so many different things.

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Photography: 169k / Martin Granadia

In four key words summarise the best things about your training:

  • Workout: It’s a great way to work on your body and mind
  • Mental aspect: For big races it’s not only about physical endurance, but also about the mental state. I learned how to deal with different thoughts and feelings like anxiety and tiredness whilst cycling. One way of staying focused is visualising my goals.
  • Way of transportation: We often take our bikes on holiday and therefore explore new territories by bike. This is an easy way to travel and a great way to experience a new country.
  • Speed: I love speed and as long as there aren’t any obstacles in my way, I don’t see any reason to slow down :).

Your favourite motivational quote?

Keep going!

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