Earlier this year, Ryan Nyquist took first place at the BMX Park on the Maryland Dew Tour. His victory in itself wasn't terribly surprising, considering that the pro, famed for his innovative handlebar spins and groovy riding style, all but earns frequent flier points for his regular trips to the podium of major BMX competitions. What is remarkable, though, is that he's been doing it now for 18 years. Which means that, at the ripe age of 34 Nyquist typically competes against athletes who are 10 or more years his junior.
After suffering a major ACL tear in 2006, Nyquist recognized that the years and scars were starting to add up, and so he began to invest more time in his off-bike training. This interest in overall fitness has helped burnish his reputation as one of professional sports' most balanced and disciplined athletes (not to mention one of the most downright humble we've ever met, too). And given his silver medal at the 2013 X Games Barcelona and his recent victory on the Dew Tour, it looks like he chose the right path. (He competes in the San Francisco Dew Tour October 11–13, which viewers can watch live on NBC on October 12 and 13 at 4 pm ET.) Victory, however, never comes cheap, and Nyquist says his success is founded on a combination of intense training matched with serious willpower. He recently gave 'Men's Journal' a look into his training regimen and suggested six key ways the rest of us can boost our overall fitness.
If your job is to launch your body into the air, upside down, over a stretch of concrete, physical fitness and proper nutrition will only get you so far. According to Nyquist, at the moment of competition, full-on commitment to carrying out your plan is a must. He knows exactly what he's going to do as he prepares to drop in: "I feel a seriousness come over me. I think to myself, You didn't come here for nothing. Now's the time," he says. The same could be said for any major challenge you will undertake.
Nyquist says that his friends chuckle when he drags his finger through the air, tracing out his route before beginning his run. "I learn the run and I learn what is possible given the design. You have to land perfectly after each hit or you lose your momentum. Basically, a lot of what this sport is, is studying," Nyquist says. He may know exactly how he will hit each ramp over a month before he drops into a run, or he may end up debating what tricks he will perform up until the night before his competition. But the point is: When it's time to go, it's time to go. Even if you've planned up until the last second, there's a threshold that, once crossed, demands the mental discipline to (perhaps paradoxically) surrender to what must be done. To us, that's not only solid BMX advice, but life advice, too.
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