Eric Marcotte is a household name for anyone who follows the American road racing scene, with two national titles to his name in both the US Pro Road Race and Criterium. Marcotte also owns a chiropractic office and balances working and running that business with racing professionally for Jamis Pro Cycling. We interviewed him recently to learn more about his work/life balance and how he finds the grit to win on some of the biggest attrition races in the country.
Beginner to National Champion
Marcotte grew up in Upper Michigan but didn’t discover cycling until he was in chiropractic school about ten years ago. Before that, he was focused on the gym. “I discovered cycling in chiropractic school because I was getting into whole other aspect of what health really is in my studies,” Marcotte explained.
He wanted to do more for his heart so he started running and swimming in winter. When spring came around, he started riding a bike with the intentions of maybe doing a triathlon, but there was no turning back. He was hooked. “It’s hard to explain how tactical the sport is and how deep you can take your body. You get your ass kicked and kick someone’s ass. You can see much on a bike. There’s so much to cycling that people don’t understand. That’s why it’s such a niche person who finds the sport.”
Most of Marcotte’s success has been at one-day events and he attributes that to a combination of his genetics and the demands of his business. Since he works, it’s all but impossible to put together huge blocks of training for multi-day events, so he focuses on what he’s good at. His favorite races are hard races of attrition where he can finish well in the sprint of a dwindled field or out of a break.
It takes no time to realize that Marcotte has grit. We asked him about it. “At some point the amount of hours, damage that training does to your body, near misses with cars adds up and that can be the extra motivation to get the job done.” Being in a health profession, he also hopes his success can inspire people to lead happier, healthier, and more balanced lives, making his success on the bike much bigger than himself.
Understanding the Body
In 2012 on Elbowz Cycling Team, Marcotte was faced with a broken collarbone and wasn’t sure how to train while recovering from the injury. Source Endurance was sponsoring the team at the time so Marcotte hired Adam Mills as a coach. With the physical results he had with Adam as a coach, it was easy to trust him moving forward.
Being a chiropractor, one would assume that Marcotte has a good understanding of his body and it’s needs. We were not wrong in our assumption. He told us how the chiropractic knowledge has been paramount in understanding what his body can do on a regular basis, what he needs to do to take care of his body, and how to keep balance. “Chiropractics asks what does the body need to thrive and what can we do to provide that environment for it instead of reacting to a bad thing.”
Marcotte regularly gets adjusted after training to help manage the stresses created by training and work. He feels that through chiropractics, he has a deeper understanding of what the body requires, in combination with very targeted training, and it has helped him get to the racing level that he is at.
We talked a bit about recovery. Marcotte chatted about how sometimes people go out and can’t hit the numbers they need to for their intervals, get discouraged and quit. Then the next day they have a recovery day and go too hard because they are discouraged from the day before. When they go to do those intervals again the rider will still fail to hit those numbers because they never got the proper recovery they needed to succeed. Since cycling is an endurance sport and you are using the same muscles over and over again, it’s essential to understand the importance of rest and honor that and that’s a philosophy Marcotte stands firmly behind in his training.
The Work-Life Balance
Marcotte is fortunate to own his own practice in that it gives him the ability to set his own hours. He works patient schedules around his training schedule while carefully balancing his total mental and physical stress-load. We talked a lot about stress and how it’s so important to not just recognize it but to honor it and be realistic with what you have available. This also goes back to the idea of proper recovery.
There are two types of typical workdays for Marcotte: short and long training days which mean opposite for work hours. One day will include 3.5-4.5 hours of about 4000KJ before he comes home for a couple hours to shower, eat, get adjusted, and head into the office from 12-6pm. These days are long and tough. The other type of day includes 1.5-2 hours in the morning and then seeing patients 9-6pm.
Stress also extends to relationships. Marcotte is quick to list off his biggest supporters and closest relationships- his girlfriend, mom, family, patients, and the people he gets to train with. “They are always there to cheer you on. They are super understanding with what it takes and understand that it’s not ‘just’ a gym workout. It’s not just the time to train but the time to recover, travel, and airport pickups. It takes so much out of you.” If you don’t have that good community around you and support, it’s pretty stressful to manage.
When he’s not racing, working, or recovering, Marcotte enjoys reconnecting with nature with his girlfriend and dogs on the many trails around Flagstaff. Right now, his biggest focuses are his racing, being the best chiropractor to his patients, and enjoying time with his family.
Marcotte clearly is mentally strong. Learn how to improve your psychological skills for cycling here.