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Jared Graves is quickly propelling himself to legendary status in the world of mountain bike racing. An Olympic competitor in BMX, a World Champion in 4X, multiple national DH and 4X titles to his name and an arrow straight focus like no other. In 2013 the Australian rider set about adding an enduro world title to his ever growing list winning 1 round and coming away with second overall in the series. Enduro MTB magazine sat him down to find out a little more about the man and what drives him to keep racing.

Interview: Jared Graves talks training, mental focus and 2014!

Jared finished second overall in the 2013 Enduro World Series, as a newcomer to enduro this was an incredible achievement, but you can rest assured that Jared's focus for the 2014 series will be unwavering, he wants to win! Now experienced in the demands of enduro, all eyes will be on the opening round in Chile to see what the Australian can do! Sarah Rawley sat down with Jared to find out more about his training and outlook on the future!

Enduro-MTB.com

You have had a very successful bike racing career, to say the least. You have a 4X World Championship to your name, you were a BMX Olympic finalist, had an successful career of racing World Cup downhill and 4X as well as dominating the National scene with more than a few National Championships on your resume. With the transition into Enduro racing, how has your perspective on training (in general) shifted?

As far as how committed you have to be to your training, to be 100% nothing has changed. But obviously the type of training I do now is very different, especially compared to BMX and 4X.

2013 was your first full season of Enduro. Did you do any "enduro-specific" training coming into the last season to prepare?

I've always said training doesn't have to be rocket science. I'm a big believer in 'specificity' for training, and rides that replicate what an Enduro race is all about is a big part of my training. Back in September 2012, I started putting together a plan for the next season. It was impossible to know if what I was doing was going to be right, having never raced Enduro, but I got stuck into some rides at home and replicated what an Enduro race stage (from my very limited experience) was like at 100% effort, and then picked apart my weaknesses and set out ways to improve on them. I knew a certain aspect of learning things I hadn't even considered would come once the racing started, which it did, but the training I did set me up with a good base to build on for the rest of the season. Now I'm taking what I learned from 2013 and working on a more specific plan for 2014.

You showed up to the Enduro World Series last year with a plan and executed it near perfect (with the exception of some crazy mechanicals along the way). Do you attribute your success to what you did specifically in the months leading up to the season, or culmination of many years of experience all disciplines of mountain biking? Or both?

I knew I'd prepared as well as I could, with my limited knowledge of exactly what was needed, and as it turns out my training was at least 90 percent what I needed. So I definitely attribute my 2013 season to a solid off-season plan that I stuck to 100 percent. The big thing that drew me to Enduro in the first place was needing a solid base in all areas of riding. You really do have to be good at everything for Enduro, no weaknesses. With my cross country and road background as a junior, then years of racing downhill World Cups, and the jumping/pumping/milking a trail for every bit of speed skills that come with 4X/BMX, I knew my background would be a solid advantage.

As a result of taking a close second in the overall 2014 Enduro World Series, and many individual stage and some race wins, how has your "off-season" changed? What type of activities/training do you find yourself gravitating towards with Enduro as the focus?

I don't really have too much of an off-season. I honestly never really get sick of riding, so I just have times when I ride when I feel like it. I did that during the time between downhill World Champs and the last Enduro World Series (EWS) in Finale-eight weeks of no plan, just riding for fun. As my specific buildup for the season starts, I have a lot of emphasis on trying not to ride my Enduro bike too much, otherwise you get burnt out on it. So I'm doing a lot more road and cross country riding/racing, and just a bit of downhill, and Enduro bike type riding to keep the skills sharp. At this point I'm just trying to build the fitness base I can for the upcoming season, the real specific stuff still hasn't started.

What are your favorite types of on-the-bike and off-the-bike training?

Just going out for a ride and going as hard as I can on the descents and then cruising back up and doing it all over again. It's fun and very specific.

How much time do you spend in a gym per week (if any)? Are you training under a specific coach or training program, or are you self-coaching yourself through this process?

I've always been my own coach. I have always spent many hours every week studying training, and through trial and error incorporated it into my training. I feel I know more about training principles and how to apply them than any coach I've ever spoken too, and only you can know your body 100 percent. I honestly don't know how or why people simply rely on a coach and never really learn about what they are doing and why they are doing it for themselves. The gym is very important to me, but it's more to equalize any muscular imbalances you might have, and what will help you stabilize yourself on the bike. It's not about building strength anymore like a few years ago, mostly though because that's something (maintaining strength) that's always come easily to me.

How much time do you spend training on your bike per week? How will this change as you get closer to the start of the season?

Anywhere from 15 to 25+ hours per week, depending on the training phase. As the season approaches things get very specific and it's all short and sharp-quality not quantity.

Do you feel that off-the-bike, a.k.a. training in the gym is important for enduro training? In what ways?

Yeah for sure, like I mentioned earlier, everyone is different, some people need time in the gym to improve certain strengths, but for me it's all about bike-specific body stability. You won't see me maxing out in the squat rack anymore, that's for sure!

What are you looking forward to most in your 2014 race season?

I love when a plan comes together. I know I learned a lot last season, and all season I couldn't wait to get stuck into off-season training to put what I learned into action. So I guess I would say everything! Just looking forward to getting it all going!

Any recommendations/inspiration for aspiring athletes racers trying to get into and conditioned for enduro racing?

Everyone is different, take the time to work out what works for you, have patience, work hard and stay focused!

Read the interview over on enduro-mtb.com here

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