Real Athlete is an ongoing series of interviews with inspirational, out gay athletes from around the world. Are you a Real Athlete? Take our Real Athlete Survey.
He's got a need, a need for speed. Whether he's wrapped in tight leather or swaddled in Spandex, Mark (RealJock: SportBiker), 42, likes his speed on two wheels.
Why do you want to be featured as a Real Athlete?
In my 20s, I was an active road cyclist, doing thousands of miles each year. I was sidelined by a knee injury that kept me off my bike for over 10 years. Last year, I found I can ride again and have been putting in serious effort to get back my legs, my stamina, and my overall ability. I started last year with five mile rides and now regularly do 50-plus miles at a stretch. I'm doing stationary training during the week to build cardio and climbing ability. My goal is to surpass what I was able to do 20 years ago.
Meanwhile, I never stopped going to the gym. My efforts there have so far netted me about 20 pounds of lean mass and I expect to add more. Overall, I think I'm in about the best shape I've ever been. I don't see myself slowing down, I see new opportunities to reach personal bests: I can't wait to see how my biking will be next year and how much muscle I can pack on in the coming years.
What is your fitness level?
How do you stay fit?
I lift weights three times a week, do cardio training two times a week and ride my bicycle two times a week.
What's the highest level of sports that you've achieved? Are you out in your sport?
Only individual sports. At one point or another I've skied, hiked, backpacked, surfed and rollerbladed. I've been to motorcycle racing school a few times. Whatever I do, I'm out. I just keep trying to break my personal bests.
What is your favorite muscle group to train? Why? What is your least favorite muscle group to train? Why?
My favorite and least favorite are the same: legs. They're functionally required for so much of what I do that I have to have good strength and stamina in them to accomplish my goals, so the more I bang on them the better. They're my least favorite because leg work (eg, squats) are exhausting!
What's your favorite body part? Why? What's your least favorite body part? Why?
Least favorite: knees. That left knee will never be up to spec and may give me more trouble in the future. I don't have a favorite body part. It all works together.
What sports and fitness goals have you achieved? What do you still want to accomplish? Why?
In my 20s, my cycling record was 112 miles in one day. In my comeback, I've met one goal of 50 miles in a day (65, actually) and now I'm working on 100 miles. Goals give me a focus. There's a saying that in the long run you only hit what you aim for. I want to set goals that keep me moving forward, or that return me to what I used to be able to do.
What inspires you to train? Who inspires you?
This is the only body I'll have. It has to last a lifetime. I want that lifetime to be vigorous, active and healthy. One of my nightmares is wanting to do some activity, but having to say, "I just don't have the [strength, stamina, cardio, whatever] to do it. You go ahead. I'll wait here." My inspiration is inner directed.
What impact has sports and fitness had on your life?
It's a great stress reliever and a fantastic source of accomplishment.
What do you do in terms of diet, vitamins, nutrition and supplements to maintain your health?
Carefully watch my intake, eat five times a day, use carb and protein supplements intelligently, try to eat lots of fruit and veggies. I make almost all of my meals.