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41: Rebecca Rusch – Getting Real With an Extreme Athlete

By November 10, 2015Podcasts
Reading Time: 4 minutes
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Rebecca Rusch is anything but “normal.”

  • As a climber, she has climbed some of the gnarliest routes in Yosemite and Zion.
  • As an adventure racer, she has competed in over twenty expedition-length adventure races (200-500 miles) and won the prestigious Raid Gauloises.
  • As a mountain biker, she won Leadville Trail 100 MTB four times with the course record and won the World 24-Hour Mountain Bike Championship, Women’s Solo, three times.
  • She river-boarded down the entire length of the Grand Canyon with two other women, unsupported.
  • She was named one of Outside Magazine’s Top 20 Female Athletes of the Year.

And those are just the highlights!

But the one thing you should know before diving into this podcast is that even though Rebecca Rusch sounds like one of the most extreme people you might ever meet, she is actually one of the most “normal” human beings I know.

If you bumped into Rebecca on the street, you would have absolutely no idea she is “Betty Badass,” even after talking with her for a few minutes. She’s humble, sweet, kind, emotional, funny, relatable, responsible, well-spoken, interested, and generous. When you meet her, you can’t help but like her.

She’s also very honest about the things that challenge her, which is why I asked her to be on the podcast. Believe it or not, these crazy accomplishments she’s racked up haven’t come easily or naturally. She is as afraid, unsure, and self-doubting as the rest of us. But she isn’t afraid to tell you about that. She’s not afraid to talk about how she learned to trust herself and never quit – and why.

Twenty years ago, I was indirectly responsible for Rebecca’s beginnings in adventure racing. Looking back, I remember how unsure of herself she was, how afraid she was to take the risk and try something new, how she thought she might fail. The important thing, and the thing that lead to all of her accomplishments over these past twenty years, is that she was willing to push past those insecurities, and “give it a whirl.”

And now, I’m grateful she was willing to jump on this podcast with me and give it a whirl!

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Links Mentioned
Rusch To Glory – Rebecca’s new book – Riding your bike, unsupported, overnight.
Eco Challenge – Mark Burnett’s first “reality show” and expedition adventure race
Raid Gauloises – the world’s first expedition length adventure race
Riverboarding the Grand Canyon – an article in the NY Times about the adventure
24 Hours of Moab – 24 hour mountain bike race
Leadville 100 MTB Race – the most difficult and well-known ultra mountain bike race in the U.S.
North Face Endurance Challenge Race Series – a series of ultra marathons around the U.S.
CrossFit Games – the finale of CrossFit’s yearly quest for the fittest humans on earth.
Rebecca’s Private Idaho – Rebecca’s annual mountain bike race in Idaho. – find out more about her adventures, clinics, races and what she’s up to.

Show Notes
5:15 – The “Queen of Pain” is just a normal person, like anyone else.
6:39 – Reflecting back over accomplishments as difficult, valuable, and time well spent.
10:34 – Willingness to look at your weakness and turn it into a strength
12:12 – The value of a patient coach in building confidence
13:35 – Accomplishing seemingly “impossible” things by making it fun
16:30 – Mountain bike travel in Vietnam – no racing
17:25 – On capturing your best ideas
18:10 – How Rebecca, a self-professed scaredy-cat, uses this strategy to make an adventure “safe enough” to be willing to take the risk.
21:52 – Variety – the key to her lifelong fitness, athletics and success
24:30 – Setting goals around athletic events
24:55 – Process of planning her year – business, sports, and personal goals
27:24 – Balancing elite performance at events with being human and approachable
28:40 – Setting up your life to allow you to suit your personality and do what you love
30:04 – How mindset determines your experience. Misery or happiness is a choice.
31:59 – How a race helps you achieve more than you thought you could
32:59 – Giving up is too easy without a coach, community and accountability
34:36 – Rebecca on her own laziness and doing nothing (no exercise)
36:17 – How her dog has helped her get in shape (her “get fit with your dog” program)
38:30 – Using other people, friends, groups to help motivate
39:54 – How shared experiences with other people or teammates make all the difference
43:09 – Rebecca’s morning routine, daily ritual and sleep
46:38 – Using the power of your mind to overcome your physical limitations and go further than you thought you could
49:50 – How your mind is your most important tool, and her first (and only) race Rebecca has ever quit
52:54 – Her first mantra from high school – “I can. I will. I won’t be denied.”
58:48 – On doing the Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race

To learn more about Rebecca, visit her website, read her book “Rusch to Glory,” or learn more about her mountain biking event, Rebecca’s Private Idaho.

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Andy Petranek
Andy is what you’d call a modern day Renaissance Man: a former professional trumpeter who attended the Eastman School of Music; a snowboarder, mountain biker, surfer, kayaker, outrigger paddler, mountaineer, and former Marine (Gulf War veteran); a professionally sponsored adventure racer; and the oldest participant to qualify for and participate in the CrossFit Games at the age of 43.

Andy is a certified CHEK Practitioner and holistic lifestyle coach. He holds a spectrum of certifications from CrossFit and is also a Vivobarefoot certified running coach. He has trained as a Zen buddhist and graduated with a Master’s degree in spiritual psychology from the University of Santa Monica.

Andy founded CrossFit LA one of the first and most successful CrossFit training centers in the world and the first to be featured in national media. He is the co-founder of the Whole Life Challenge, Inc, currently its president, and is also a consultant and life/business coach. Andy lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Julia, and son, Dashel.