Listen to this article in audio form! It’s #204 on the Barrel Racing Tips podcast.
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In today’s video (filmed live at the NFR!), I’ve shared a summary of tips the top 15 barrel racers offered when asked “How do you stay physically and mentally fit with all the difficulties of rodeo life?”
There were definitely some common threads in their answers, however I felt as though Shada and Sydni’s every word on this topic were also worth sharing in print…
SHADA BRAZILE: “Physically, I have pretty much been adapted to the rodeo lifestyle. I run every chance I get, I run bleachers. We spend a lot of emphasis on horses physical condition and it’s equally important for us to be in shape, and have a strong core to ride them the way we need to.
As far as mentally I thought I understood the mental pressure of competing watching Trevor, there are so many ups and downs I really didn’t understand how to compete when you had to win. I really don’t think you can understand it until you have been there. What really helps me is to go to the arena before I run and envision my run.”
SYDNI BLANCHARD: “I stay gluten free, which allows me to cut out wheat, barley and rye and allows me to eat more meat, vegetables and fruit. Physically, I work out every day; we have a gym at the home and I try and keep the same schedule on the road which gets hard.
I make sure I do cardio every day, so I will either run stairs or run the bleachers at rodeos or I have a jump rope that I keep in my tack compartment, so every time I open my tack I will jump rope real quick.
Just things like that you have to do, it’s hard, you are an athlete and you have to treat your body like you are one. You just have to ask yourself, how bad do you want it?”
There’s no doubt that high level barrel racing requires supreme balance and timing, as well as extreme physical and mental quickness.
For many of us, achieving physical and mental fitness is a journey – one often inspired by experiences that lead us to realize that we need improvement in these areas, OR by an unrelenting desire to be the best at whatever we set out to do!
In my experience, one of the first steps toward following through with our physical and mental fitness goals is to realize how important fitness really is, and what a HUGE part our health plays in how we perform in every arena of life.
Physical and mental/emotional fitness are very much connected – neglecting these areas dulls our edge, not just as competitors, but as humans! Lack of movement, lack of sleep, poor food choices, and poor thought patterns don’t just “slow us down” in competition, they negatively impact how we perform on all levels.
A second step on this journey comes in experimentation. Often we don’t know how poor we feel until we’ve committed to making better choices – otherwise we have nothing to compare to.
Start with making commitment to taking really great care of yourself – even temporarily if you find it hard to commit and follow through at first. After a couple weeks or even a few days, you’ll most likely experience a difference powerful enough to motivate you to keep it up. Don’t feel pressured to do it ALL at once – slow steps are better than no steps.
It’s my belief that another huge factor when it comes to staying on track, has to do with the relationship with ourselves. Staying physically and mentally fit is very much connected to our own self-worth – it’s a representation of how much we value ourselves, AND how much we value our passions and purpose!
We were each only given one mind & body – taking excellent care of ourselves is a reflection of gratitude for them.
Although working out when you don’t feel like it, making good food choices, and staying on track mentally IS hard at times, when you understand how huge of an impact physical and mental fitness plays in how you show up in the world, and when you personally FEEL the difference it makes, AND you truly value yourself, it becomes much easier.
So there you have my two cents on the subject of physical and mental fitness. Now, enjoy the video below for even more tips from the TOP 15 NFR barrel racing qualifiers!
What are YOUR tips for staying healthy when traveling?
Let’s hear it in the comments below!
For even more insight in the area of physical fitness, check out:
To kick start the season with a strong mental foundation, you’ll enjoy:
To learn more about becoming a professional barrel racer as a member of the oldest women’s sports association in the world, visit www.wpra.com.