We’re happy to bring you the first in a series of blog posts written exclusively for Chain Reaction Cycles by Naomi Freireich, an endurance mountain biker based in Edinburgh, Scotland.
In her first instalment, Naomi gives us some insight into how she fits training into her busy lifestyle…
Hey, I’m Naomi.
I’m a single mum of two. I’m an IT Project Manager in Edinburgh. AND I ride bikes.
I came to cross country mountain biking in my mid-thirties through a chance encounter in the office changing rooms with a like-minded girl and fell in love with the sport for everything it gave me: strength, adventures and some healthy me time.
Then I discovered that I actually wasn’t half bad. Last year was my first year competing and I was so happy to take wins in iconic races like the Strathpuffer, the Manx 100 and Tour de Ben Nevis.
Now I’m in my second year of racing in endurance competitions and l can’t wait to take that further this year, at the UK and World 24 hour MTB champs!!! I love getting out there, meeting other women in the sport and showing people just how strong us ladies can be!
It’s warm under the duvet. Eyes open or shut it’s dark and there’s this ringing near my head. Before rolling over and pretending it’s not happening I remember that today I’ve got to be a full-time mum, an IT project manager AND train for 3 hours. I’m going to have to be a bit creative with my day!
Don’t think about it. Don’t press snooze. Just swing my legs out of bed and put on the kit I’ve laid out the night before. The right kit, reliable kit. Anything you can do to make it easier to get up and train first thing is key to whether you’ll do it or not. Clothes next to the bed, water bottle already on the bike…it all helps.
Tip-toe downstairs. Today I’m on the turbo but sometimes I’m outside mountain biking. The same principle applies, and the less you’re looking forward to the session you have planned the more important it is. Focus on the result, on that feeling you have of happy exhaustion at the end, the knowledge that you’ve actively chosen to make yourself better at doing what you love. There’s all the incentive you need right there!
An hour and a half in…quick pause to wake up the kids. Time it to coincide with a rest between intervals or just hit pause. They’re good now they know the ritual when I’m fitting in a morning session and having a familiar routine all helps too. Back on the bike. ‘Where are my…?’ ‘In the drier’. ‘Remember I’ve got…’ ‘yup, it’s in my diary’.
Done. Now the chivvying…breakfast, teeth, packed lunches. I’ve gotten clever with lunches. On my rest days I tend to bulk cook, make sandwiches for a fortnight and freeze them, do the house work. Not technically resting but it has to fit in somewhere. And it all makes life simpler. Reducing the number of things you have to think about, the things that can trip you up or steal your time. If you can do them in advance you’re reducing your ‘I can’t exercise today because…’ excuses by one each time.
Kids at school and now the day job. I’ll usually commute to work by bike. It’s not far but I have a few route options and I just love that blast of fresh air in the morning for invigorating me for my job. Sometimes I can turn my commute into a training ride.
If I’ve got to do something short but high intensity I’ll go the hilly route in, or if it’s an easy pace to work on my technique I have a great route in along a riverside trail. It’s usually pretty full on at work and so I need to be focussed and blast of exercise really helps with that.
Now do it all in reverse. Ride home, dinner, homework, then evening clubs or some family time. I try as much as possible not to let my biking get in the way of time with my kids. Most evenings we’ll try to do something together when we can, as simple as watching an episode of our favourite comedy show or playing a game. And if it’s a TV night I’ll take the opportunity to do my strength work at the same time. A 25 minute episode is the perfect length to do a core, arms or leg workout. And quite often my kids will join in. Peer pressure can be a positive thing too!
Make my lunch for tomorrow, get the kids to bed, set out anything I need for the next day. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not all early mornings! I love sleep. In fact I’d say it’s one of my favourite things. And I’m good at it. World class even! Which is a good thing, because it’s really important as part of your training. And so the nights when the alarm isn’t set for crazy o’clock I’ll confess I go to sleep with a grin. But when it is, I’m ready for it, prepared and excuse-free. And that’s at least half the battle won already!
Looking forward to my next blog post! If you want to keep in touch with what I’m up to, follow me on Instagram: