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Day in the life: Julie Young

Retired pro and VeloNews training columnist Julie Young is using the coronavirus shutdown to work on strength and endurance at her home in Truckee, California.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought professional cycling to a halt. In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to pro riders and other personalities from the sport to understand how their lives are continuing amidst the shutdown.

Julie Young was among the top American cyclists in the 1990s, and in 1992 she became just the second U.S. rider to win the Tour de l’Aude Cycliste Feminin, then considered the hardest race on the international women’s calendar. While she has retired from pro competition, Young is still quite active in recreational endurance sports, and she pursues a lifestyle filled with mountain biking, trail running, and cross-country skiing at her home in Truckee, California.

Young is also a full-time coach, and you may have read her training columns in the recent issues of VeloNews magazine. She helps lead the endurance laboratory at the Kaiser Permanete Sports Medicine in Sacramento, and we’re so pleased to feature her work in VeloNews. We recently caught up with Young to see how her endurance lifestyle is continuing amid the coronavirus shutdown.

Location: Truckee, California.

What are the current regulations where you live about going outside?

It’s allowed and encouraged to go outside. I don’t see people riding in big groups and there’s quite a big of the public shaming thing going on if you ride with more than one or two people.

Tell me about your most recent awesome adventure ride. 

There is a new trail in Truckee called the Tahoe Pyramid Trail — this woman is building it from Tahoe all the way to Lake Pyramid in Nevada. I have such amazing respect for these people who are getting land in land trusts and building these trails. I did a cool ride with my client, Klaus, on our gravel bikes. We rode the Tahoe Pyramid trail down the Truckee River and went up and over Dog Valley Road on a gravel road and then back along a series of reservoirs. It was like a 70-mile gravel ride and just a fun early-season loop.

What races were you planning to do that have been canceled or postponed?

Last year I did the Carson City Off-Road and the Tahoe Trail MTB, and I was planning to do some races in Colorado. I’m more just letting things happen these days as opposed to planning my whole life around these events. For sure I was planning to do some races in my backyard that are canceled.

What are you doing today?

The Julie day today was fun! I really wanted to go for a run with my dog but it was pouring outside, so I went to my trainer and I did 6 x 10 minutes with 4 minutes sub-threshold and then 1 minute at threshold. So I alternated that and threw a few minutes off in between. My neighbor came over to talk to me so that delayed me.

Julie Young continues riding long miles during the shutdown. Photo: Julie Young

Are you doing workouts? If so, what specifically?

I’m actually doing similar stuff to what I would normally do. I am a huge believer in strength work, and with the gym being closed I’m trying to mock things up and create as much weight work as possible with a medicine ball, or I throw a bunch of weight into a bag and lift it. I try to maintain strength and stability work. I’m also trying to stay up with my interval work, similar to what I’d do if I were planning to go to some races. So, I’m doing some longer threshold type work and some 30-second interval work to keep that sharp speed and power. I love listening to podcasts and I listened to one with Payson [McElveen] and you hear about [pros] training because they love it, and that’s the way it is with me. It’s a lifestyle. I’m riding mostly gravel or dirt, and I’ll do some quality stuff on the road bike.

What indoor gear are you using?

I just got off my Wahoo Kickr. We’re getting another dose of winter so I was riding indoors. I’m not a Zwift rider, so I just put myself in front of a bike race video and just ride.

This is also a time when we don’t have the opportunity to be in a gym, and I think it’s important to focus on trunk stability and hip stability, and you can do a lot of that with mini bands for the hip and longer bands for the rotary trunk stuff.

What’s your motivation to train right now?

Training has always been something I’ve gravitated toward. I love movement. It makes me feel good and it makes me more productive in my workday. For me to sit at a desk for eight hours doesn’t work. I work [for] four hours, then go for a ride, then come back for another four hours or so. I just love where I live — fitness feels like entertainment. I can go and explore and see incredible things. It feels like I’m able to enjoy this time instead of just trying to get through it.

How are you communicating with friends and family?

The phone, Zoom, and online communication. I work with the Bear Development Team and we have a weekly meeting on Zoom and it’s creating this sense of connection. Regular talks create a sense of connection and consistency in seeing each other.

Have you received any helpful advice on how to get through these strange times?

Not really. For me it’s about taking everything one day at a time and not letting my head get too far down the road with what-if scenarios. I’m grateful for today that I have work, I have my bike, I’m healthy, and all of those things bring me gratitude as opposed to worrying about what-ifs and things I can’t control. Hopping on the bike creates a sense of normalcy and routine which is extremely valuable.