Olympic cyclist Becky James shares her sporting career journey and fitness insights
Do you have any words of encouragement for those of us that aren’t that active but are looking to adopt a healthier lifestyle?
In my opinion, it’s really good to have a training partner because I know how hard it can be to motivate yourself, especially if it’s just you going to the gym. I find that when you go with someone else, you push yourself so much harder and you’ve got that bit of extra motivation. Try and find yourself a training buddy to push yourself along, and make improvements with.
What are your favourite features of Fitbit Iconic?
What I really like about the Fitbit Iconic is that it’s got a coach session where you can just click on it and it’ll take you through a couple of workouts. I’ve done the core workout quite a lot because sometimes you just go to the gym and you’re not really sure what core to do, and it’s quite nice to have something set that shows you what to do for the exercises and tells you how many reps to do. It really pushes you.
Has using Fitbit Iconic changed your approach to exercise?
It’s definitely changed my approach. It makes me think about what I’m doing throughout the day. When I’m sat down for a couple of hours and it tells me to get up and move, that’s really helpful. Before, when I was training, I didn’t need to think about how many steps I was doing a day, but now it’s definitely about how many steps I can actually do.
How can Fitbit Iconic help us lead healthier lifestyles?
I think it’s really good because it’s got heart rate monitoring built into it. Monitoring your heart rate is a massive tool to see how you are in both body and mind. What I’ve learnt is, if my heart rate is getting higher, then I’m usually getting run down, or I’m picking up an illness, so, if my heart rate’s gone up by five or six beats then I usually try to take it easy for a day or two until my heart rate starts coming back down.
If we’re using the Fitbit Iconic to get healthier, how might we notice our fitness levels improving?
On the heart rate section on the app, it’s got a guide to show you where you are in terms of fitness. You enter your weight, your age, your height, and then on the heart rate section, it’ll tell you what your resting heart rate is, and it’ll let you work out how fit you are. Usually, you’ll do a run, it’ll tell you how good your cardio fitness is. It’s got levels from poor, fair, average, good, to very good, and excellent, so it gives you a scale, and it tells you how to get yourself fitter. If you were poor or fair, it’d say you need to do more cardio. Maybe if your weight’s a bit higher, and your weight starts coming down, and your cardio fitness score starts coming up, that’s a really good sign, so it’s really good for keeping track of where you’re at.
What was the highlight of your cycling career?
Definitely my two Olympic medals. I had three highs along the way that’ll stick in my memory. In 2010, at the Commonwealth Games, that was my first step into winning medals at a senior level, and I got a bronze and a silver there and I was only eighteen. Representing Wales was absolutely amazing, and that was the only chance that I got to actually represent them in the end. Winning my two world championship titles in 2013 was just incredible. I had a bit of a dip after that, and then I finished on a high winning those two Olympic medals, and having my family there to support me was just absolutely amazing.
What was the biggest challenge to overcome during your cycling career?
I’d say getting back from my knee injury. I kind of lost all hope, all motivation. I was in a really emotional place. I was constantly crying. I couldn’t ride my bike for more than fifteen minutes without being in absolute agony, so I couldn’t imagine getting myself back. Not racing for a year and a half was just so hard. Going for my first race [after the injury], I was absolutely terrified. You kind of expect to perform where you finished off, but it doesn’t work like that, and having to start again and build my way up was really tough, but it was all worth it in the end.
How did you manage to bounce back from your setbacks?
I think it’s just having such a good support network around me. My family, my boyfriend, and British Cycling were amazing. They sent me off to an intensive rehab unit at Bisham Abbey, and I stayed there for six months. It was really helpful to be out of a cycling environment and be around different people. Having new faces, and people really believing in you – it gives you hope. Once I got back to British Cycling, they were so supportive, the coaches, the physios, everyone around was just trying to keep me upbeat all the time. Once I started performing again, I had people saying to me ‘you’ve just got to keep training hard, and it will come back’.
How does it feel to be a role model to young people, especially young women?
I love giving advice because I’ve experienced cycling for such a long time. I’ve been a cycling sprinter since I was thirteen, so I’m glad I can inspire the younger riders coming through. If I can help someone in just a small way, it’d make me really happy.