Sonya Looney On Coachcast Episode 10 Season 4

The Moxie & Grit of Pro Mother, MTB Racer and Coach Sonya Looney

BY TrainingPeaks CoachCast Host Dirk Friel

The 24-hour world champion talks with Dirk about maintaining her training during and after pregnancy, helping others through health coaching and much more.

Sonya Looney is pushing the traditional notions of training for professional mountain bike racing during and after pregnancy while reinforcing patience and resilience in her clients as a health coach.

Despite her results as a pro, she describes herself as a normal person who has accomplished extraordinary things through hard work, self-belief, determination and willingness to fail. Dirk sits down with Sonya to talk about a wide range of topics from her start as an athlete, adjusting to motherhood and racing, unique training approaches and the rewards of coaching others.

She’s raced mountain bikes across the world in more than 25 countries at the hardest endurance races in places like the Sahara Desert, the Himalayas in Nepal, tropical jungles in Asia and the steppes of Mongolia. Her passion for taking on the most demanding and longest races in the world has enabled her to serve others through her coaching business and Moxie & Grit Mindset Academy.

Standout Quotes

“I had to learn on the fly. How many calories do I need to be consuming per hour? Because I didn’t really know because I hadn’t done a stage race post-partum breastfeeding, and there’s no data on that. So, the first couple of days, it’s like, am I either bonking or am I not digesting the [number] of calories that I’m eating? Because there’s only a certain number of carbohydrates that you can train yourself to digest per hour. So I might not even be digesting that much, but I went off how I felt, you know, do I feel [like I’m bonking]? And if I felt that way, I would just make sure that I kept eating.”

“Paying attention to your body and honoring where your body is at, some people need to take three months off after they give birth. So really, like not judging yourself, not comparing yourself … but the reason that I’m sharing my story is because there might be somebody that wanted to get back on their bike, but they were looking at this general guideline, and maybe they missed out on something that they could have done.”

“Motivation follows action, not the other way around.”

“There’s something that I say, the work is the reward. And what that means is that a lot of times we look at this outcome of something, like, I’m going to like finish Leadville, or I’m going to run a marathon, or like, we’re looking at these outcomes, and we’re waiting to feel a certain way whenever we achieve that outcome. But really, you’re not even entitled to the outcome, like you might line up for Leadville, and things might happen, and you might not finish. So what is the reward here? It’s the work. It’s who you become along the way. It’s what you do every single day.”

“I’ve been cycling coaching in the past as well, and in cycling coaching, you are asking people questions, but you’re also telling them what to do. Whereas in coaching, this type of coaching, you don’t really tell people what to do because that undermines their intrinsic motivation. And coaching is all about behavior change. So in order to help people change their behavior, you need to follow this process that helps people with their intrinsic motivation that doesn’t undermine their own autonomy. So that’s kind of the premise of health coaching.”

Sonya Online

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About TrainingPeaks CoachCast Host Dirk Friel

Dirk Friel is the host of the TrainingPeaks CoachCast and Co-Founder of TrainingPeaks. He is a lifelong athlete with a passion for cycling and ski mountaineering and firmly believes in goal setting, dedicated deliberate training and coaching for all. Learn more about his work at TrainingPeaks and follow his adventures on Instagram @dirkfriel.

Visit TrainingPeaks CoachCast Host Dirk Friel's Coach Profile