In this section of the website, we will highlight the stories of individual athletes, give a little insight into their coaching strategies and explain how they overcame setbacks to reach their goals. This month, the athlete we have chosen is Craig Cozza.
Athlete Spotlight: Craig Cozza
Craig is a 49 year old entrepreneur in Oakdale, PA (just outside Pittsburgh). In his day job, he is president of a successful real estate development corporation, Cozza Enterprises. He also owns Pro Bikes, which has 3 locations in the Pittsburgh area. In addition to having a full selection of road, mountain cyclocross and hybrid bikes, a training center and a state-of-the-art fitting studio, Pro Bikes also sponsors 17 cycling teams and clubs and numerous races and race series in Western PA and West Virginia.
Craig was already a successful bike racer when he began his coaching with Backbone Performance in late 2012. That year he won the PA state Criterium, Time Trial and Cyclocross championships in the Master's 45+ category, but he had still felt like he wasn't quite living up to his potential. It didn't take long to figure out that Craig had followed a plan similar to many other busy "Type-A personality" athletes: short, hard workouts every day with no days off. Craig initially questioned the recovery, endurance and no-activity days he saw on his training schedule, stating that he "felt lazy" for not riding as hard as he could", he quickly realized that they allowed him to go much harder in his intensity days. For the cyclocross season, we also had him do something that didn't come naturally... indoor trainer workouts. With a once a week, 1 hour high intensity, cyclocross specific indoor workout, Craig's fitness improved quickly in November and December. "I never would have thought that indoor workouts could be so useful for cross" Craig said, "but they really allow me to work on what I need to work on without having to plan around weather or daylight. Those workouts kick my butt, but when I am out there racing I can feel how much they help me"
With a 4th place at Master's Cyclocross Natz in Madison, WI, Craig had achieved his primary goal for the season, but he was also starting to feel like something was off. Upon returning home, he visited his doctor and discovered that the "something" was a bronchial infection. Two weeks later, at Master's Cross World Championships in Louisville, KY, things were especially bad. Despite a 7th place finish, Craig "felt like he was riding with a governor on".
The 2013 season has not been smooth sailing either. Though Craig won the PA State Mountain bike championship and placed 4th at National Championships (Cat. 1, 45+), he was held back by a leg injury. So far though, for the 2013/2014 cyclocross season, things are looking up... way up. Craig is undefeated in Master's cyclocross races for the season, including wins at DCCX, both days of Charm City, and dramatically at Nittany Cross, having started in the very last row in a field of over 80 riders! Next weekend, he will travel to Louisville for the Derby City USGP races and in January he will fly to Gossau, Switzerland for World Championships and then to Boulder, CO for National Championships. Let's just hope he can stay healthy this year!
According to Craig, "As someone who is used to being the boss, it's nice to be able to just read my workouts every day and do what my coach says. It takes a lot of the stress and second guessing out of it because I can just leave it in the hands of an expert"
Perhaps what is most impressive about Craig is that despite all of his successes in business and sport, Craig never forgets the things that are most important to him. He begins most phone conversations not by bragging about his own achievements, but rather those of his children. Though his coach always pushes him to work in some longer rides on Sundays, spending time with his family always comes first.