Rob Teixeira is a big believer in being uncomfortable.
“I see so many people whose worlds have shrunk because they just want to be comfortable,” he says.
A road cyclist, firefighter, and cycling coach for two decades, Teixeira tried out mountain biking three years ago. On one of his first rides, he was humbled by how many times he fell.
“I crashed into a tree. I crashed around this super easy turn. I hit pine needles, and guess what, I crashed. There I was on the ground feeling seven crazy freaking emotions at once. My buddy, who I was riding with, opened his mouth to say something and I just held up my hand, like don’t talk to me.
But what he said to me was, ‘Hey, you’ve been doing this for three months. You’re fine.’ And I realized I was trying to be Kickass Rob, but I couldn’t because this was brand new. Sometimes things are really freaking hard and you have to just hang in there.”
Fast forward two years and Rob Teixeira is the winner of his 45-49 age group at the XTERRA Renegade Duathlon in San Dimas, CA. The course consists of a 3-mile run, a 15-mile mountain bike ride, and another 3-mile run.
You can watch Rob's video of the XTERRA Renegade course at Bonelli Park here.
“I had a coach who taught me that building fitness or performance or aptitude is like building a bridge. The bigger the bridge, the more you have to put into it. But the thing is, you can’t use a bridge until it’s done. You just have to work and work and work until one day you have a breakthrough. And then you can use the bridge.”Teixeira explains that often, beginning something new requires patience, discipline, and a lot of wrong turns.
“I found XTERRA because someone convinced me to do the XTERRA Malibu Creek Trail Run. I got sucked into it. 14 freaking miles. I took sixth overall, but I don’t know that I need to run 14 freaking miles ever again. That’s how I found XTERRA Renegade. I knew I could run three miles at a time. And I can bike.”
People have often encouraged Teixeira to enter a triathlon or even a 24-hour mountain bike ride. “That’s about as appetizing as whiskey and milk,” he says. “Nope. I’m not swimming and I’m not doing anything that lasts all day.”
For Teixeira, the duathlon is a perfect fit with his coaching philosophy. “We need to be uncomfortable to grow, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a sufferfest either. You gotta be happy. You want to feel the flow.”
He refers to the groundbreaking book, "Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience," written by the Hungarian Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which is based on the theory that people are happiest when they are in a state of concentration with what they are doing in the present moment.
“Where skill matches the environment you have the flow. That’s the ideal. Whether I’m fighting a fire or I’m on my bike on some terrifying downhill, I just try to be really in it, you know?”
Teixeira lives in Riverside County but works at the fire station in Lancaster, California in the Antelope Valley of the western Mojave Desert. He describes it as “very wild-westy” with grass, tumbleweed, and a lot of dirt. He’s been a captain for six years and believes in passing on his experience to the next generation.
“I’m the old dog now,” he says. “But I still remember my first fire as the new guy who forgot his breathing apparatus and rushed in with his helmet on backwards. Coaching firefighters is the same as coaching cyclists because how you do anything is how you do everything. How you make your bed is how you are on the fire truck, and how you are on the bike.“
It’s clear that in whatever situation Teixeira is in, he gives one hundred percent. On December 20th, he responded to a call from a woman who needed to get to the hospital to repair a hernia. “The problem was, she was 600 pounds and couldn’t stand up without our help.”
The firemen successfully helped the woman into the ambulance and to the hospital, but in the process of lifting the gurney, Teixeira acquired a hernia of his own. He had surgery on January 31st and was back training for XTERRA Renegade on February 20th.
“I’m not sure how I’m going to do in the duathlon,” he says, “But the truth is, I’d rather be doing this than anything else – just two wheels and the dirt.”
The biggest message Teixeira wants to convey to the athletes he coaches is one Nike popularized years ago. “Just do it,” he says. “Don’t let your world shrink. Don’t wait. You don’t even have to be good. If you’re out in the dirt, messing around, pat yourself on the back because that’s what it’s all about. Nothing you do is a waste of time if it gets you closer to what you want.”
For more information about Rob and his coaching, visit www.mtbhero.com