Written by John Ferrari | Photographed by Micheal Neveux
MaryJane Bouman, RN, is all about performance improvement—on the
job and on her bicycle. As Torrance Memorial Medical Center’s clinical
outcomes manager, Bouman is responsible for “making sure that we’re
providing the best care that we can provide.”
As a competitive track cyclist, she’s focused on improving her own
performance, shaving fractions of a second off her time around the track.
Each race lasts less than minute, but the sport demands peak performance.
For Bouman, 41, staying in shape has been a lifelong pursuit, but competing
is new to her.
Why track cycling?
MaryJane Bouman: My boyfriend took me to the velodrome [indoor bicycle
race track] for the Paralympics six years ago. As soon as I saw the races,
I thought, “Oh my God, this is my cup of tea. I’ve got to
get involved.” I just dabbled in it at first, but about two years
ago I started training. I don’t feel like much of a competitor,
but I really enjoy it.
What are track cycle races like?
MJB: There are endurance races—2-, 3- and 4-kilometers—but
I do sprints, the 200- and 500-meter. I train at the VELO Sports Center
at the StubHub Arena in Carson. It has a 250-meter wooden track, so the
500-meter sprint is twice around the track. It takes me about 13 seconds
to go through 200 meters; some others can do it in 11 or 12 seconds.
How do you train?
MJB: It depends on the time of year. I use a progressive plan to get to
peak performance. I’m just coming off a weightlifting training schedule,
with three or four days in the gym lifting, at the track three times a
week and doing training rides [with the bicycle set on rollers] twice a week.
Why hit the gym?
MJB: I was very fit going into this, and I was an exercise physiologist
before I became a nurse—so I know the importance of an overall healthy
body. In sprint races your upper body and core are very important. Getting
out of the block, you have to get this bike going in a very high gear.
You need upper-body strength to pull your hips and push the bike down
What’s your track bicycle like?
MJB: There are no brakes and only one gear. Everything is to make the bike
as light as possible. Some people have carbon fiber frames for their bikes
because they’re so light, but my bike’s frame is aluminum.
It’s already so light they have to tape weights to it for competition.
Before taking up track cycling, you’d never been a competitive athlete.
What pushed you to compete?
MJB: I decided that I was going to race because I noticed I was getting
older. Even in the gym I was being more conservative than I needed to
be. I wanted to challenge myself to not be afraid. I wanted to build my
confidence in life, to push myself and not be timid. I’m not much
of a competitor at all—I’ve never competed a day in my life
before this—but it’s really fun to be focused and to be training
for something and to watch yourself get better.
What advice do you have for people thinking about taking up a sport?
MJB: You don’t play a sport to get in shape; you get in shape to
play a sport. Make sure you’re in shape to play your sport first.
Set goals and put a plan in place. Everyone progresses differently too.
People start out way too hard; they don’t start out where they’re
at. At first what you’re worried about is getting yourself to do
it. Maybe you’re not active for 150 minutes a week [the Department
of Health and Human Services’ recommendation for moderate aerobic
activity], but 10 minutes a day is a start. You have to count your wins.
What are your own guidelines for training?
MJB: Training for me is easier since I’ve been doing it since I was
so young. I started lifting weights in college and fell in love with lifting
weights. As a kid I really enjoyed running, skiing and swimming. But for
training, I believe in efficiency all the time. We all have busy lifestyles;
we need to be in and out of the gym as fast as possible. For weightlifting,
I believe in low repetitions with high weights—you will see a benefit
faster than you would lifting lighter weights for more reps. Proper form
is really important to avoid injury.
What else should we know about track cycling?
MJB: There’s a reason we carry our bikes—it’s so important
to have good tires! There are no brakes and the track floor is wooden,
so we can’t let the tires get any oil on them from pavement and
we can’t have any punctures. I feel like people look at me like
I’m crazy, carrying my bike over my shoulder. Please let people
know there’s a reason!