Travis Macy is a speaker, author, coach and professional endurance athlete who has completed 100+ endurance events in 17 different countries. Author of The Ultra Mindset with a Masters degree in Education, Travis also leads retreats for high performers around Colorado and the world.
Tell us about yourself and The Ultra Mindset. What exactly is an ultra race?
An ultra run is a running race that's longer than a marathon: 50-100 miles/km or more.
Training and nutrition are huge things but it's really about mindset. I started out coaching athletes for a few years then I decided to put it all down on paper. I had never written a book, I just made a commitment to myself that I was gonna do it. A commitment is a choice to give up a choice.
I made a significant dietary shift within the past year to eating whole foods, cutting way back on carbs, eating quality meats, tons of veggies and nuts and avocados.
How does that affect your training and the way you feel, and are you still able to do the same thing?
Yeah, it feels great. I don't like using the term diet because it's a restrictive mindset, like I'm sacrificing something. By saying, “this isn’t a diet,” I'm just deciding what I'm going to eat and that's what I'll be eating. You could think of this as a sacrifice or as an investment, and that's really empowering.
Benefits to performance enhancement and training: studies show if you can train your body to burn more fat, you'll be able to burn fat at a higher work level, and you'll be able to race on less carbs. Gastrointestinal issues are the biggest thing you can encounter with high endurance races and this diet is easiest on the stomach. I've also seen a huge difference in inflammation and a faster recovery after long races.
One of your chapters talks about investing in yourself and "putting it in the bank."
When you go through difficult times it's easy to go into the victim mindset and look down on yourself, but instead we can say, "this is hard, but this is good mental training." I'm conditioning my mind to be more resilient in future tough times. You're creating this mental toughness and that's the money in the bank.
When setting a goal it's important to envision and plan for the obstacles you're going to face. Imagine the specific obstacles ahead of time and envision how you will overcome them.
I tell my clients when they're struggling with maintaining their diet and exercise plans, “You have to remember your why; why am I doing this?" But sometimes your why and your goal is so far off or distant that you need short term rewards or motivation to keep you going.
Whether it's finishing your 100-miler or sticking to your nutrition program or making the next step in your career, the why is huge. I think you can choose your goals and choose your life based on intrinsic motivations but then use extrinsic motivators when things get tough.
How about letting yourself have a "reward dinner" where you break from your nutrition plan? I find when I don't leave some leeway for myself, that's all I can think about—things I shouldn't be eating.
I tend to agree with that whether it's what you eat or your training plan. The way long term change happens is by doing it in a consistent sustainable way. If you're doing something that feels restrictive, that's not going to be sustainable. Plan for recovery periods and give yourself some breathing room.
It seems like as you get older it's harder and harder to keep in shape. How can I get back to the shape I was in when I was 18?
Start with your mindset. The world's greatest lie is that at some point in life, fate takes over and you're no longer in control. If you want to be in control and change how you feel or what you eat or how you spend your time, you can do it, whether the world is spinning out of control or not.
Travismacy.com has contact info, social media links, and access to all of his talks and writing. The book is also available on Audible—valuable info if you're interested in doing any training / racing / marathons or learning about mindset.