Ohio Today: For Alumni and Friends of Ohio University

Building your stamina
Dave Levy, BS '78, shares tips he learned during his 2001 cross-country bicycle trip.


By Betsy Vereckey


Do you ever feel too tired to exercise? Does the thought of paying big-time bucks for a personal trainer make you weak in the knees? Have you hit a plateau in your exercise routine or run out of ideas to rev up your workout?

Sporting an Ohio University jersey that friends gave him for good luck, Dave Levy, BS '78, and his wife, Catherine, celebrate the end of their 2001 cross-country bicycle trip at the Atlantic coast.
Cross-country cyclist Dave Levy, BS '78, has some expertise in perseverance and stamina on the exercise front. In 2001, Levy cycled cross-country, averaging 83 miles on each of the 45 days he rode during the 50-day trip. His adventure began at the water's edge of the Pacific Ocean in Astoria, Ore., and ended 3,752 miles later at the Atlantic Ocean in Portsmouth, N.H.

But the ride was no cakewalk for Levy. Because he knew the journey would be physically and mentally challenging, Levy prepared months in advance to increase his endurance. He offers the following tips for anyone looking to increase exercise stamina.


Think mind over matter

Mentally envisioning the end result is the best way to overcome physical challenges, Levy says. Instead of thinking, "How am I going to make it up this hill?" concentrate on the overall accomplishment: "I've ridden 100 miles today." With the right training, your mind will adapt to the physical challenge.


"The enormous mountain in front of you isn't going away," Levy says. "Just think of how proud you will be when you complete your ride."


For Levy, there wasn't a day that he didn't want to hop on his bike. Levy recalls a stage in the trip when he rode for 95 miles in a 25 mph wind through North Dakota.


"Those are the days I will always remember and remain proud of," Levy says.


Pick something you love

Not everyone enjoys cycling, but we all have different passions. Levy says to find something that you absolutely love and have fun with it.    

"Pure dedication isn't going to get you out of bed at 6 a.m. every morning," Levy says. "You've got to love it 100 percent."


Play with others

"One of the most effective ways to build stamina and add some spice to your exercise routine is to work out with a team," Levy says.


As a way to prepare for the cross-country trip, Levy and his wife, Cathy, rode with 11 other riders at least once a week. The riders encouraged each other and set goals to remain motivated.


Don't ever stop

Levy cycles year-round and never gets out of shape. When the weather is bad, Levy rides indoors.


"It's hard to get your endurance level back to where it used to be once you stop riding," Levy says. "It's best to stay in shape."


Take care of your body

Levy says a proper diet is key to having more energy. He recommends a balanced diet and also suggests taking snacks with you for the ride.


"By snacking on energy bars or fruit while you are riding, you will be able to keep your metabolism up," Levy says.


According to Levy, it's best to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Also, it's important to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water before and after you ride.


Make it personal

Levy says this is what makes the process different for everyone. You can increase your stamina by incorporating something that is meaningful to you on your ride. Before Levy went on his cross-country trip, his cycling friends from his college days gave him an Ohio University "good luck" cycling jersey to wear on his ride.


"The jersey was not only a great way to show my pride for OU, but it was a symbol of all the hard work that I'm proud of," Levy says.

Betsy Vereckey, MS '04, is the graduate student writer for Ohio Today Online.


Ohio Today Online features "Field Notes," a section devoted to expert advice from faculty and alumni. For more stories, visit the Field Notes archives.

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