Balance, Mindset and Reshaping What It Means to be a Professional Athlete with Sonya Looney- EP044

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Be brave and do epic shit.




As far as mottos go, this is a pretty phenomenal one. And Sonya Looney definitely follows this advice herself: Not only is she one of the world’s best endurance mountain bike racers, she is also a writer, blogger, and photographer. Sonya has delivered keynotes at events around the world, and she hosts the successful podcast, The Sonya Looney Show. An early adopter of social media, Sonya is reshaping what it means to be a professional athlete by establishing and promoting her own strong personal brand.

Today Sonya shares her roundabout journey from graduate fellow in engineering to professional mountain bike racing, discussing her approach to training and how she incorporates time to work on the business. Sonya offers her take on balance, mindset and the future of women in sport. She explains her shift to a plant-based diet and offers tips around trending in the right direction when it comes to nutrition. Listen in for Sonya’s inspiring advice about pushing your limits and making time for human connection!

Topics Covered

[1:49] Sonya’s philosophy

  • Push limits, take on challenges
  • Go outside comfort zone

 [2:58] How Sonya landed on mountain biking as career

  • Bullied in high school
  • Gained confidence training for marathon
  • Pursued engineering degree in college
  • Introduced to mountain biking
  • Reviewed backpack on blog, company invited to join team
  • Became national brand ambassador
  • Approached by several brands in 2012
  • Established own media company
[8:31] Why Sonya enjoys being an entrepreneur

  • Growth opportunities, connect with others
  • Fulfilling to help people live better lives
  • Not just about riding fast, standing on podium
[10:11] Sonya’s take on balance

  • Implies stressful journey (tightrope)
  • Make time for rest, human connection
  • Focus on one project at certain times
[12:01] Sonya’s racing calendar

  • Race January through October
  • One month in spring, summer to focus on business
  • Reduce travel, no races during those months
[13:04] Sonya’s approach to training

  • Train less when racing more (recovery)
  • Energy management vs. time management
  • Incorporating Nordic skiing, strength training in off-season
[16:23] Sonya’s weekly off-season training schedule

  • Two hours strength training in gym
  • Two to three hours of cross-training
  • Four to five hours of yoga
  • 10-15 quality hours on the bike
[18:00] Sonya’s coaching team

  • Works with sports psychologist, strength coach
  • Self-coached in cycling
  • Knows body well after 14 years of experience
  • Tended to over-train with coaches
  • Uses physiology assessment test
  • Assesses race performance to gauge training
  • Tracks power meters, heartrate and breaths/minute
[22:10] How Sonya handles down time

  • One month on couch after foot surgery
  • Enjoyed down time
  • Self-worth doesn’t come from training
[24:03] Sonya’s shift to a plant-based diet

  • Introduced by husband, Matt
  • Watched Forks Over Knives documentary
  • Gradually changed eating habits
  • Performance improved as side effect
  • Removed meat, chicken, cheese, milk
  • Cut oil consumption
[29:04] Sonya’s macro levels on plant-based diet

  • 30% of diet = fat
  • 80-100 g of protein/day
  • Whole food sources of carbs
  • 70-80 g of fiber/day
  • Tracks hormone, vitamin levels
  • Sufficient DHA
[33:06] Sonya’s advice around diet and nutrition

  • Don’t have to eat fully plant-based diet
  • Eat variety of whole foods
  • Trend in right direction
[35:47] Sonya’s hope for the future of women in sport

  • More respect moving forward
  • Empower younger generation through accessibility (i.e.: social media)

Learn More About Sonya Looney

Sonya’s Website

Sonya’s Podcast

Sonya on Facebook

Sonya on Instagram

Sonya on Twitter


Forks Over Knives Documentary

Inside Tracker

Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina

How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger MD and Gene Stone

Daily Dozen for Android

Daily Dozen for iPhone

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