Virtual Trainer: Sarah Whitmore, Part 2

March 1, 2006 1:41pm

In part two of our conversation with WMA star Sarah Whitmore, she tells us why she thinks girls can pull holeshots better than most guys and offers a little insight to the whole crying-on-MTV thing. (To read Part 1, click here.)

Sarah Whitmore
photo: Simon Cudby
Racer X: What do you think are some of the advantages that women racers have over the guys?
Sarah Whitmore: Well, women definitely have faster reaction times, and being lighter is definitely an advantage. As long as you get a girl on the line that's not scared with a bunch of guys, she will most likely pull the holeshot. Faster reaction times and just being lighter are key to pulling holeshots. Also, girls are usually more flexible than the guys, so that can be an advantage—especially when you're crashing and things like that. A more flexible person can bend and absorb more punishment from the ground and the bike. If you're flexible, you can bend further before you break.

Walk us through a typical week of your training.
Well, my training during the season and in the off-season is certainly different. In the off-season, I just naturally have more time to get to the gym and work on things like strength and cardio. I have more time to do the entire package every single day and still have time to go out and put in my motos and ride. During the season, it’s a little bit harder because I’m on the road so much. Sometimes I just have to take what I can get, like stopping while we're traveling or running at the track. I’m a summertime girl, so I don’t like to work out inside too much during the summer; I would rather ride my mountain bike or run. I also try to work on my strength by doing body-weight exercises like push-ups and pull-ups. Since it’s so hard to find a gym while I’m traveling, that’s about the only way I can work on my strength.

Do you consider your training to be as good as it can be?
Well, I think I have room to improve at everything that I do. But training-wise, I definitely need to get stronger so that I can handle my bike better. I also need to improve my endurance. I always thought that I had really good endurance, but after I had Epstein-Barr last year, I don’t think I've returned to where I used to be. I still feel myself getting fatigued at the end of motos. I really want to get past that point, but at the same time, it’s so hard because I don’t want to overwork my body and end up getting sick again. I just need to be smart about it and build back slowly.

Do you stretch and warm up before workouts and riding?
Oh, definitely. I’m very much into stretching. I just have to loosen up and prepare my body before I ride. I always stretch down at the starting line by doing splits and stuff. I’m pretty flexible, so I like to stretch. It’s pretty funny when I race with the guys and I’m doing splits before the race. They're like, Oh my gosh, what is this person doing? Especially when I wasn’t wearing pink gear and my hair was really short. They didn’t know what the heck their competition was doing. Then they found out it was just a girl and they were cool with it [laughs]. But stretching is so important. I remember one time at Glen Helen, we had a practice at like 6 a.m. I just rolled out of bed, put on my gear, and went out and rode. I threw my back out so bad! never did that again.

photo: Steve Bonnau
Do you ever get arm pump during a race?
I think I’ve had arm pump maybe three or four times in my life.

So it’s safe to say you don’t get arm pump?
Yeah, I guess so.

When you get tired during a race, what normally gives out first: heart, lungs, or general fatigue?
I think just general fatigue. Usually, my legs and my hands get tired. Towards the end of a moto, it’s usually harder to stand up and work the front brake and clutch.

Now that you've been a professional rider for a while, what's your take on performance-enhancing drugs in MX?
I’m really not sure if girls are using performance-enhancing drugs or not. I guess they could be, but I really have no idea if anyone is or not. I don’t think anyone is. I definitely don’t agree with using drugs. That would be such a huge advantage for someone, especially since I’m one of the smallest girls on the track—they already have a natural advantage, and that would just make it even worse. I don’t really agree with putting anything foreign into my body, alcohol or anything like that. The side effects are horrible, especially for a woman. I mean, I still want to look and feel like a woman and prove that you can be feminine and fast.

Do you think there should be mandatory drug testing, like in other sports?
I wouldn’t complain if there were.

What type of diet do you follow?
Well, I don’t really have a diet that I follow. I’m not bad about my diet, but I’m not great either. Since I’m hypoglycemic, I can’t eat sugar at all. I don’t eat fast food, just because I think it’s disgusting. But other than staying on a no-sugar diet, I figure that I’m already torturing myself enough, so if I want something salty or something like that, I’m going to have it.

What's your favorite music to listen to while training?
I listen to a lot of punk rock and country. I know people say that country is real mellow and everything, but I still get into it.

photo: Steve Bonnau
Do you enjoy the training process? Or do you secretly hate it?
Well, sometimes when I’m tired, I’ll be like, Oh, I don’t feel like running! So, I’ll kind of dread it beforehand, but while I’m doing it and afterwards, I enjoy it. I like the feeling afterwards that I know I’m doing something good for myself.

What is the one thing you like most about training?
Seeing the results.

One thing you like least about training?
Getting moving! Once I get going, it's all good, but getting started is hard.

Personal secrets that you use to keep motivated?
Well, when I’m running, I usually picture someone in front of me that I just have to catch.

Like a cute guy or something?
[Laughs] Well, not exactly something like that…. I was thinking more on the lines of someone I have to beat on the track. I’ll let the guys chase after me!

Good idea. Favorite excuse for not working out?
I’m not sure. I don’t really use excuses for not working out. I guess if I don’t feel like working out that day, I just don’t!

Thanks, Sarah, I really appreciate your time. Good luck in '06 with your racing and the backflip. I want to see you land that thing, and no crying this time!
[Laughs] Hey, thanks—thanks for bringing that up! I was so dreading that coming out. I didn’t want anyone to see that. I didn’t even tell anyone about me crying. I was hoping MTV would cut that out or something. I didn’t realize how many people watch MTV until the commercials, and then all my friends would call. I mean, there's a lot that they didn’t show. They would show me messing up once and then crying about it. But really, it was, like, three days of landing, like, six in a row and then messing up one. You know, it gets in your head. Doing a flip into a foam pit is one thing, but flipping over dirt is another. If you mess up over dirt, it’s going to hurt so bad. And that was, like, two weeks before my first national. I mean, freestyle is fun and everything, but racing is my thing. I was really hoping no one saw it, but during the commercials, I just got phone call after phone call. I was like, “Noooooo!” I looked like the biggest idiot.

What I thought was funny was Travis’s reaction. It would have been cool if he could have taken a line from the movie A League of Their Own and started yelling, “There’s no crying in freestyle! There’s no crying in freestyle!”
Well, its no secret that I cry a lot, I guess. I cry on the podium at Loretta’s and now I’ve cried on national TV!

Well, you’re a girl, so I guess you're aloud to cry. Nothing worse than a guy who cries on the podium, though!
[Laughs] No doubt.

Well, again, thanks for your time. I really appreciate it.
Yeah, sure, no problem, Tim.