From climbing mountains to running marathons, a job at GearJunkie requires a solid level of fitness. Our ‘How I Stay Fit’ series profiles editors and contributors on our staff for a peek at their fitness habits and idiosyncrasies working out and adventuring in the outdoors.
In my first month at my previous role as marketing manager for 45NRTH, I was asked how people keep their feet warm at -40 degrees Fahrenheit on the Iditarod Trail.
I had some experience riding in the cold, but that was a sub-30-minute commute through downtown Chicago at around -10, not riding for days in the middle of nowhere in Alaska. It was at that point I realized I needed to step up my game.
I wanted to not only have an answer to that question but have a story about the time I did it. So I decided to take on some of the harshest ultracycling events in the country — Arrowhead 135, Dirty Kanza, and the Iditarod made my list.
I needed planning, structure, and accountability. So I hired a coach and started my first real regimented training plan.
Fast forward 5 years and many ultras later, and I’ve found a good life/training balance that keeps me fit and happy.
Marketing Manager Kurt Barclay: Cycling, Hiking, and a Little Bit of Climbing
Fitness motto: You’re stronger than you think you are.
Personal stats: 6’4″, 230 pounds (aiming for 210), 35 years old.
Favorite sports: Fat biking, mountain biking, gravel biking, hiking, and, more recently, climbing.
Race highlights: 2017 Iditarod 130 champion; Dirty Kanza 200 finisher; two-time Arrowhead Ultra 135 finisher; Almanzo Royal 152 finisher; three-time Lutsen 99er finisher; Milwaukee Marathon finisher.
Weekly routine: When I’m training for long-distance racing, I keep a pretty strict schedule of required saddle time. This can be anything from a long road ride to hitting some local singletrack. I try to commute to work by bike (16 miles round-trip) at least two to three times per week, which keeps the base strong.
Recently, I started cross-training two to three times a week on a cable machine, the NordicTrack Fusion CST. I like that it adds some variety to my training, but it also keeps the rest of my body in shape, helping toward the overall goal.
How I keep it fun: A morning coffee ride, an afternoon singletrack rip, a late-night ride to a brewery — it all counts toward base miles. And it keeps things interesting and fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re doing it wrong.
Recent fail: Leadville 100 MTB Race on a single speed. I was halfway up Columbine climb when I went to pass a few people, and all the power that should have gone into my pedal forced my knee outward — and it slipped out of socket.
The result was a few torn ligaments, two major surgeries (including sawing my tibia in half and my third ACL replacement), and lots of time spent rehabbing my right leg.
Now, over a year later (and 20 pounds heavier) I’m back on the bike and looking to return to my former racing fitness. As bad is it was, it brought me back to the basics, and I’m working on coming back stronger and more fit all around.
A personal tip for amateur athletes: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Unless you’re getting paid to do this stuff, you need to remember why you’re doing it: for fun. It’s OK to take an extra rest day or grab a beer with friends after work.
In 2017, I went full keto, trained like I was paid to do it, and ran myself into the ground. I burned out and lost my joy for cycling. Then I stopped training too hard, rode bikes for fun, and barely lost any of my racing speed and endurance. From then on, I’ve made sure to enjoy myself. And I’m much happier all around.