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Athlete Spotlight

Meet Former Pro Cyclist-Turned-Ultrarunner Chris McGovern

The old cycling maxim goes “why stand if you can sit, why sit if you can lie down.” Running isn’t even mentioned, because everyone knows that bike riders don’t run. Chris McGovern was a dyed in the wool bike rider, he had been since he was 13. 25 years after Chris first overtook a group ride packed with serious roadies when he was on the way home from school on his ten speed, he retired from pro cycling and founded a bike brand, raced some cross and generally stayed off his feet unless he was hopping a barrier or carrying a bike up a hill.

But deep in the back of Chris’ memory was a recollection of a conversation he had with two cycling buddies at 15. Two older training partners had taken time off the bike to run the Western States 100; Chris thought this was silly, but the seed had been planted. He knew about ultrarunning and, after being moved to tears watching people finish the WISER 100, he did the unthinkable and traded in his carbon soles for cushioned ones as he began to train for ultra-marathons.

It wasn’t long before Chris, who had raced professionally for many of the best teams in the US on his bike, was consumed with a new sport. “There is a primal sensation when traveling alone in the mountains. Everything is heightened for me. My taste, me sense of smell, my hearing, the efficiency of movement.” He’s scheduled to race five ultras this year, no mean feat for a guy who wouldn’t walk up stairs if there was an elevator.

The transition wasn’t easy, McGovern says that cyclists should approach running with caution. Rather than aiming for the sort of high-volume weeks that give you strength on two wheels, “consistency is key” in running. Cyclists will find their shortened muscles and lack of weight bearing exercise leave them pretty destroyed after a run that might not even qualify as a recovery jog for 100km racer like McGovern.

Luckily, Chris is a man with a plan. He’s been working with a coach to make sure he doesn’t over do his training and been on the CBD recovery bandwagon for some time. McGovern credits his use of softgel capsules (25mg daily and 50mg on long or hard days) for his recovery powers as he edges past the half-century mark and continues to stay in great shape despite a hectic travel schedule managing a cyclocross team. He also says that shift in attitude has allowed him to pick up and excel at a new sport. “The biggest thing I’ve learned is that we as humans should have no limits. If you feel a boundary, take a minute to look at it, and I bet it’s mental and not a physical barrier.”

We asked Chris about his CBD routine. “ I’ve been using 25mg soft gels for recovery. I typically take one capsule before bed unless I have had a big training day, either by intensity or duration, and in that case will take two. I’m also curious to try them during races this year.”

Follow Chris’ adventures at cyclistscantrun.blog