‘Set goals and structure your life.’ Anneke Beerten – Olympic athletes interviewed Episode 27

Triple Mountain bike World Champion Anneke Beerten explains how the life of a professional cyclist can go up and down. Coming from one of her best years in 2015, she ended up having her worst year 2016.

Anneke outlines how she recovered from this setback. She explains how she likes to set goals and works hard to achieve these goals. Why she has switched disciplines a few time in her career and how social media has changed the landscape for professional Mountain bike riders.

We discuss

Christian: Today I’m joined by Anneke Beerten. Anneke is a mountain biker who has switched disciplines a few times in her mountain bike career. Anneke was Junior World Champion in BMX in 1996 and 1997, three-time World champion in Mountainbike Four Cross in 2011, 2012 and 2015. In 2015, she made a switch to the Mountainbike discipline Enduro and became the European champion in the same year.

Welcome, Anneke.

Anneke: Thank you.

Anneke’s darkest moment

Christian: I think I have had a lot of dark moments, but the one that sticks to me the most is in 2016. In 2015, I basically had a perfect year. I won a lot of races and titles, but in 2016 I got sick. I did not really know what I had or where it came from. It took a long time to figure out that I had a bacterial infection or a virus in my body and it basically shut me down for the whole season. So 2016, after being on a high in 2015, was miserable.

After being on a high in 2015, 2016 was just miserable.

I got so sick at one point, that I could just sit behind a computer for five minutes. Then I had to go back to bed. I was tired, fatigued and just ill. First I thought I had the flu, but it wasn’t the flu. They had put me on different antibiotics. The first antibiotics didn’t work, so they put me on a second antibiotic. After almost three weeks of antibiotics, my whole body, my system, everything shut down.

I still tried to race, but that didn’t go well. And then I got back here at Papendal and went to see the doctor here. He did a test and then they figured out I even had problems with my heart rhythm, which was skipping beats. My body was so messed up that they put me on bed rest right away in the middle of the summer. And that was basically the season for me. So that was definitely like a year of a lot of dark moments.

My body was so messed up that they put me on bed rest right away in the middle of the summer. And that was basically the season for me.

Christian: Was it some kind of an overreaching or overtraining syndrome?

Anneke: No, they don’t think so. At the beginning of the year, I traveled to South America, so they weren’t really sure if it was something that was in the food or in the water. They think that I got some kind of a bacterial infection, that just attacked the body.

I was still trying to race and still trying to train because at first, I thought it was the flu. So I said, I would get over it and I would just let the antibiotics do its work. I kept trying and trying, but something was wrong because I was so tired. I have never felt like that before.

I kept trying and trying, but something was wrong because I was so tired. I have never felt like that before.

And even if I got out of the chair, I was all dizzy. My blood pressure was low, everything was off. I felt the pressure of all of my sponsors and myself too. This was my living, my job and I wanted to get results. And especially coming from a year that I won almost everything to a year when I couldn’t even qualify was such a shocker.

Coming from a year that I won almost everything to a year when I couldn’t even qualify was such a shocker.

Christian: I believe it must have been hard, you had the best season the year before. How did you recover from that, physically and mentally?

Anneke: I know, it was really difficult. I kept trying, which was probably wrong. I had signed a new contract with a new team because I had such a good year before. I also had multiple teams wanting me on their team. So I had great offers on the tables.

I signed with a new team and then you have a year like that. I wanted to at least try and do this race. Then I went to Italy for the last World Cup of the season, and I said I would at least try. I really wanted to finish the season of trying to race.

I remember starting to race and I had a hard time keeping up with the girls in the race. I tried doing the first stage in Enduro, which was downhill and my body did not want to do anything. I remember just going into tears while I was on the bike. I was so frustrated and I had to stop at the bottom. I just said I have to listen to my body. As an athlete that’s so difficult and emotional, because I had to go to the team manager and tell him that I can’t do it.

I remember going into tears while I was on the bike. I was so frustrated and I had to stop at the bottom.

So it is hard, but I had to really rest. We did more tests, but we couldn’t really figure out what was wrong. I took a long time off in the winter, then really slowly started building up again. It is the same mentally.

  • Also check out the interview with Jelle van Gorkom and Merle van Benthem, who describe, that the process of mental recovery is more difficult than the physical recovery.

You just have to stay positive and listen to your body. That’s probably the hardest part, listening to the body and accepting that you have to start at zero again and then really slowly build up.

Christian: I guess, it’s easy to say “stay positive”. And how do you stay positive if things are not going well? But do you use any specific strategies or anything?

Anneke: Yes. I would say, you need to find something positive, and then it’s just little baby steps that you have to take. Like, today I start riding for half an hour. I think a month after bed rest and not doing anything, I was able to ride three times a week for one hour.

I was able to ride three times a week for one hour. For a person that normally does a minimum of a two-hour ride a day, you can imagine, how that feels. But once you see, that you make those little signs of progress, you feel like you are getting somewhere.

For a person that normally does a minimum of a two-hour ride a day, you can imagine, how that feels. But once you see, that you make those little signs of progress, you feel like you are getting somewhere. So I try to look at it that way. But it was difficult for sure.

Christian: Did you start doubting whether you will ever get back to the level where you were?

Anneke: Yes, for sure. I think that’s hard not to, as an athlete. You doubt all the time, especially at my age of 34 years at the time. Even though I had the best year ever. You can’t really have a year like that again, and you still want to be on top of your game and be the best.

Christian: And when these doubts came in, what did you do?

Anneke: I kept thinking back to the year that I just had. I knew I was in such great condition and I was feeling great on the bike. Technically, everything was just falling into place. I just told myself that one year was not going to do that much damage, that I can’t ride a bike anymore.

You just tell yourself that you have been doing this for a long time. You just tried to stay positive in that kind of way and tell yourself to look for the little positive things.

Anneke’s best moment

Christian: What was your best moment?

Anneke: The best moment for me is, without a doubt, winning the World Championships in 2011 for the first time. That was in Switzerland. I had failed many times before winning the World Championships. It was like I crashed years before. I got bronze, silver and got disqualified.

So there were so many years leading up to it and people started doubting me. They started asking if I was ever going to win the World Championship’s title. I really hoped that I would. So, winning in Switzerland was amazing. I had the right people around me. My parents came out to watch. So it was a special night.

People started doubting me and started asking if I was ever going to win the World Championship’s title.

Christian: You won in 2011, and since 2004 every year, you were number one or two in the seasons ranking and world ranking. So, it took you 7 years, right?

Anneke: Yes, it took a long time, and then I finally won it. It’s hard for people to understand how stressful it is leading up to every year of the World Championships. Every year that you don’t win it, It got bigger and bigger, and the year after, it’s even more stressful.

Everything you do before it’s all about that race. You’re driving your car, you think about World Champs coming up. Every training that we do, it’s all going to be for that one day. That one run that has to go perfect. That was definitely a big relief winning that one.

Everything you do, it’s all about that race. Every training, it’s all going to be for that one day. That one run that has to go perfect.

Christian: And then you won it back to back?

Anneke: And then I won it back to back. I figured out how to do it. I think the stress was a lot less the second year. People say that a lot of times, and it’s actually true.

You got it, so you don’t have that stress factor that you still need to win it. That was an amazing year as well, you know, winning that again. Showing that wasn’t just a one-off thing.

Anneke’s advice to a younger Anneke Beerten

Christian: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your younger you?

Anneke: I would definitely give myself the advice to listen to my body. I think that’s a very hard part for me, and it still is. I like training, that’s a daily thing for me. It’s normal, but I think I always find it hard to find the balance of taking a step back when I have to. I really need people like you or Bas or Tjeerd to tell me to put the brakes on, listen to the body and take a step back.

Listening to my body, put the brakes on and take a step back, is very hard for me. I like training, that’s a daily thing for me.

Recovering especially from the Enduro races was so different. I’m talking about going from a sprint event that I was doing with Four Cross and BMX to doing long distance stuff. So especially after a long weekend of racing where we were hours on the bike, I needed more recovery after that. I could not go back into training on Monday. I needed Monday and Tuesday, and then maybe on Wednesday, I could have started training again.

But that was so different for me. I really needed to learn, that I need to recover and then I can go back into training. Or when you have an injury, you have to take it easy. It will go faster if you take a step back. You don’t go keep going full on.

Christian: Listen to your body.

Anneke: Listen to the body, for sure.

Christian: I have also noted down something here, that I wanted to ask you. You stopped your job when you were 22 years to go all in on cycling. You left your job in order to do something that is insecure. I can imagine it must have been a difficult decision in terms of taking risks, right?

Anneke: Yes, it was. It was especially because I was at the age as well where you have to make a decision. Do I go and hang out with my friends and have my normal job? Or am I going to do something I really love? I don’t know where it was going to go, because I made the switch from something that I was really good at in BMX.

I was at the age, where I had to make a decision. Do I go and hang out with my friends and have my normal job? Or am I going to do something I really love?

BMX wasn’t in the Olympics back in the day. It was just all regional. I did a little bit of international racing, but not so much. And then I got the offer to go over and race mountain bike. Well, I’m from the Netherlands, I had never seen a mountain before in my life. So I had no clue, what I was getting into, but I loved it so much.

Then they offered me to start riding and racing for them. And I said yes, I needed to do this. I also needed to take a big step and really do what I like. Immediately, I fell in love with mountain biking. I love the challenges.

I always had them. I went from BMX to mountain biking. I then went from mountain biking to downhill Full Cross, and after that, I switched to Enduro. I like to set goals and keep reaching for something new.

Christian: When you made that switch and decided to stop your normal career, how were your family and network? Were they supportive or did they say stick to certainty and security?

Anneke: Stick to working at a record store and keep selling those CDs? No, my parents always knew that I had a big passion for cycling because I’ve always done it. They were always very supportive. They were not the kind of parents that really push you. My Dad would always tell me to just go into it, he would drive me to the BMX track three times a week. Then on the weekend, he’ll go to the races with me.

I think my parents were very happy when I turned 18 and I got my driver’s license. So they didn’t have to drive me everywhere anymore and they could chill out. But they have always been very supportive and they still are, but just in a very mellow way. They trust that I know what I’m doing, even though my mom doesn’t always like to watch. But I guess that’s with every mom.

Christian: Yes. I can relate to that. I think if I see what you guys are doing and what happens, I wouldn’t want to see my daughter going through that risk.

Anneke: Right, yes.

Anneke’s success habits

Christian: What are the habits that make you a successful person or athlete?

Anneke: I always had very clear goals of what I wanted. I knew since I was a little girl, that I wanted to win. I wanted to become a World Champion. I wanted to win those rainbow stripes.

Since I was a little girl, I wanted to become a World Champion. I wanted to win those rainbow stripes.

I think that is important, to set the goals and have a habit and structure in your life. You have to be structured to actually reach those goals.

Set goals and structure in your life. You have to be structured to actually reach those goals.

Christian: You switched disciplines a few times. Was that because of new challenges or boredom?

Anneke: Yes. I think a little bit of both. I always had that urge to set a new goal and to try and reach it. As soon as I reach it, I start looking around wondering what’s next.

I think it keeps you sharp as well. It keeps you motivated and sharp to reach for new things and keep pushing yourself in different aspects of the sport.

Christian: I’ve worked with you for seven, eight years or more than that now. So if I look at your habits, I would say you’re always well prepared and very professional. If we look at the athletes and also the ones who I’ve interviewed before, preparation always comes back, right? Is that something that came through Bas [de Bever], the coach or is it something that you have naturally?

Anneke: I think a little bit of both. I think a lot of stuff is taught by Bas, and the way we always worked with you. Going to the Olympic training center and train, we always had structure and I think structure is very important. But I always have it myself as well.

I always have a kind of structure when I’m traveling or when I’m racing, preparing for racing and stuff. I think it’s a good thing. It’s something that you need to have as an athlete. I think most top athlete, that I see around me are pretty structured.

You need to have a structure as an athlete. Most top athlete, that I see around me are pretty structured.

Anneke’s morning routine

Christian: Talking about structure, do you have a morning routine?

Anneke: I do have a morning routine. The first thing on my schedule or my agenda is breakfast. I do not leave without it. It doesn’t matter where I am, even if it’s 4:00 AM and we have to go to the airport, I’ll have a little cereal or yogurt or something in my backpack to eat. You don’t want to be traveling with me and when I have an empty stomach.

Normally, I just wake up, and if I go really into detail, it is wake up, put the little heart monitor and oxygen saturation device on my fingers. I’ll check my heart rate in the morning, grab water, then grab breakfast and then start the day. I check to see what the weather is like, especially here in the Netherlands.

I’m always kind of prepared as well. I like to prepare the night before.

I got to look at if I can go riding outside or if I go to the gym. I’m always kind of prepared as well. I like to prepare the night before. I have my bag ready, I have my clothes ready, what I’m going to wear, and so there is everything lined up. That’s crazy though when you think about it.

Christian: Well, I don’t know.

Anneke: No, I think it’s a routine. I think a lot of people have it, even if you have a normal job. You get your food ready the night before.

Christian: There’s also that story about Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. It is said that they wear the same stuff every day. It frees up mental space, so they don’t have to make a decision about what to wear. So they have a routine, what they wear and so on, so they can focus their mental energies on the things that matter.

Anneke: Yes. I can see that for sure.

How to prepare for important moments

Christian: How do you prepare for important moments?

Anneke: Nowadays, for important moments and important races, I do a lot with visualizing. I make sure I know the downward trails very well. Then I make sure I know my time schedule for the day. I just like to be prepared. I know the lines in my head. It’s very important mentally to know how to the trails are. So, I look at a lot of GoPro footage before.

I do a lot with visualizing. I make sure, I know the downward trails very well, and that I know my time schedule for the day. I just like to be prepared.

I have to know when there is a trail or downhill. I have to know each section. For example, there’s a drop or technical rock section or something like that. So I really need to know where the trail is going to go.

After that, then I would say the same thing, I prepare everything the night before. I ensure that I have my food package ready as well. Because when we do the long Enduro races nowadays, I need to bring my own food. So, I’ll prepare everything the night before water bottles, drinking bottles and numbers. I put the number on the jersey and on the bike.

I always check with my mechanic, if there’s anything on the bike I need to know. Did he make changes? Because of what I do, my bike is a big part of the racing. Did he change my brake pads, for example? Or did he change my rotors? Do I have fresh tires on? What tire pressure am I running?

So all that stuff is something I need to make sure I talk with my mechanic about. I need to know that I just have to jump on the bike in the morning and everything’s set. So I do that and then make sure everything is ready in the morning to go.

Christian: And then on the moment itself, you’re in the start gate, how do you make sure that you bring out your best performance?

Anneke: I try to get a little bit aggressive. That seems to be working well for me over the years of racing. I’ve tried all kinds of different things of course, but I know I have to get my heart rhythm up a little bit. So I do some sprints before the start gate, make sure my body is a bit like aggressive.

You get your heart rate up and get in that zone. I don’t really care what everybody around me is doing. I try to focus on me because it’s so easy to get distracted by what other people are doing. Some girls will not shut up. They just keep talking and talking. That’s how they deal with nerves, for example, and I can’t stand that. I want to tell them to shut up.

I don’t really care what everybody around me is doing. I try to focus on me because it’s so easy to get distracted by what other people are doing.

And I visualize what trail I am riding. What am I going to do? What are my strong points on the trail? Where do I have to attack and be ready for whatever happens? You can hit the first corner and you can flat or crash So you have to make sure that you’re able to adapt to whatever is going to happen in that run.

And that’s a lot of times most difficult thing. Because as soon as you make a mistake, you want to make up for that mistake. But you can’t. You should not try to make up for a mistake. You just have to get back into your rhythm and get back into your flow and then you push hard.

Christian: You started riding your bike with three years of age and you started competing in BMX with four or five years?

Anneke: Yes, four. I did my first race when I was four.

Christian: Were you always competitive?

Anneke: Yes, if I hear it from my parents, I was very competitive. I think I still am. It doesn’t matter what I do. I’ve always been competitive. It’s always in me.

Christian: Yes. I find it interesting because recently I spoke to Jeffrey Hoogland, and he also said when he was three years old, he wanted to win badly already. Then I look at other kids, I think the competitiveness starts much later.

Anneke: Especially when I was really young in BMX, I had to race against the boys as well. We had the age classes together, so I raced against the boys. I think that was only making it more challenging and fun for me as well.

If I think back in school, when you have your normal gymnastics or whatever, I always would be the Cooper tests running and thinking that I would win. So, it’s always been in me.

How to overcome setbacks

Christian: How do you overcome setbacks?

Anneke: Well, we talked about before. I try to find the positives in the setbacks. So that’s definitely my way to go. I think for a lot of people, and I might sound a little bit cliché, but think about the positives. But you have to get out of it. If you have a setback, and yes, it sucks at that moment.

Find the positives in the setbacks. If you have a setback, it sucks at that moment, but you have to get out of it.

Things are not going right. I always like this quote that I saw as well. It says, “You lose more races than you will win in your career.” Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate when I do win. Because at one point, you’re winning races and people around you start thinking it’s normal. When you don’t win, they wonder why you did not win. They don’t know that it’s not that easy. And then you start losing a little bit more.

Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate when I do win.

And then you really start appreciating the ones that you do win. I think the best thing to do is stay positive. And I believe that you can do it. It’s just not, that every year will be as the same. You have injuries or you get sick.

Now I see a whole new generation coming up in mountain biking. Especially the young girls that are in the age of 10 to 15 years of age. They are so skillful. It’s amazing. It’s like when I grew up in that age, BMX tracks were pretty flat. If you look like what the kids practice on nowadays, you know, it’s huge.

And I see that in the skills and mountain biking as well. The girls are so skillful and they ride with the boys. So I think that’s really cool. I’m glad I will be retired when they’ll come into the professional category of elite. So, but it’s cool. It’s cool to watch.

Anneke’s role model

Christian: Do you have a role model?

Anneke: No, I don’t really think I do have a specific role model. I think that people around me are my role models. When I trained with the BMX team, for example, or the other day when I was in the gym with you and all the track cyclists. Those are people that inspire me. I see the girls and boys training hard and that motivates me as well.

People around me are my role models. I see the girls and boys training hard and that motivates me as well.

I do have role models. When I think about like, Marianne Vos for example. I admire those people with what they have achieved in their career, it’s amazing. And especially knowing how difficult it is as an athlete, yourself in cycling. At one point people just thought Marianne is going to win, And if she didn’t win, people wondered how she did not win. I always said that they do not think about it.

But I think on a daily basis, it’s the people around me that inspired me most. Or even when I ’m going to the gym in California, I go to a CrossFit gym at 9:00 AM, the housewives come in, they’re going to do their CrossFit hour and it’s so impressive. They have normal jobs or take care of their kids and they come into CrossFit and you see what they do. It’s so impressive. They make you want to go faster. But yeah, that’s definitely what motivates me.

The best advice she has received 

Christian: What’s the best advice you received and who gave it to you?

Anneke: The best advice I would say it’s all just simple stuff – ‘Work hard, play hard.’, ‘Keep it real’. I think you have to work hard in order to play hard. You do the fun stuff and race well. Keep it real is one of the things I really liked. But I just saw that; it’s not that somebody told me. It’s from an artist, who has a really cool painting and it says, keep it real.

You have to work hard in order to play hard.

And for me nowadays, with social media, it’s so difficult to be yourself and to keep it real. We all try to show only the cool stuff and we want to be liked. We want to be liked by everybody. And it’s hard to keep it real.

It’s hard to be yourself and show yourself and not go into a different direction of just being liked by people. So I really try to stick to that and try to think of that when I’m in that little social media bubble.

Christian: And work hard, play hard refers to work hard is the preparation?

Anneke: Yes, exactly.

Christian: And playing with the competition?

Anneke: You have to work hard. You have to do all the work before, in order to play hard to do the fun stuff. And that’s definitely a part of it, because you can’t sit on the couch and think that you’re going to win a race.

Maybe with a few talents out there. We always have good talents that show up. But it normally doesn’t last that long. Definitely, for me, I always had to work hard. I always had to work hard to get where I wanted to be. Yes, definitely not sitting on a couch and be a couch potato.

Christian: I can see that.

A typical day in the life of a professional mountain bike athlete

Christian: I can see that. How does a typical training day look like?

Anneke: On a typical training day, I wake up and depending on the day or what day of the week it is, it’s either gym training in the morning and then I do my endurance training in the afternoon. Or when it’s a different kind of day, I do some specific sprint stuff or intervals in the morning and then normally a recovery ride in the afternoon. And if it’s a single day of just riding, it’s normally a long ride. So I’ll hit three or four hours on the road bike or mountain bike or something like that.

Christian: Interesting.

Anneke: I would almost say simple, but it’s not science.

Christian: You have to do the work.

Anneke: Exactly. Yes.

Christian: I have another question, and I need a bit of a long introduction for that. I remember once we were sitting down and talking about your new training plan when you made the switch to Enduro racing, and we analyzed the different demands of the sport. I asked you what the difference is between better riders and the rest. And I also remember your answer and you said, in the end, it comes all down to bike skills. But on the other hand, I also know you are very strong in physical preparation, right? Can you elaborate on your vision on the importance of skills versus physical preparation for cycling?

Anneke: Yes. It still depends on what discipline you do. But of course, it has to be a combination of both. If you’re not fit, the body will not do what you need to do in order to perform. But at the end of the day, if I’m super fit and I put all the work in the gym and on the road bike, but then, let’s say I traveled to South America or whatever and I’ve never been there and I come to a totally different kinds of terrain and I don’t know how to ride it.

If you’re not fit, the body will not do what you need to do in order to perform.

The dirt is different. It’s maybe loose gravel or it’s like volcano ash kind of gravel. This is super technical and I feel out of my comfort zone, The technical skill side of me is lacking or blocking. I can’t really prepare for that when I’m here or wherever I’m training. So if you put all in the work in you will be fit and ready. But on the technical side, you come to that race and you can’t perform technically what you need to do, you’re not going to win.

That’s the hard part of the sports sometimes. It’s mentally a big part of course too. You have to be confident about yourself that you can do all that stuff.

You have to show that you’re not scared of riding and racing at full speed. That is why I probably said that as well. You will need technical skills. But you need to have both for sure.

How social media has changed the landscape for mountain bike athletes

Christian: This question relates to social media. I know we spoke about it before. You mentioned that in earlier conversations with support staff or sponsors, it always used to be about performance. And now more the conversation goes to the strength of your social media following. Is the landscape changing? Talk us through your experience over the years.

Anneke: It’s been a big shift over the years in my opinion. I felt it happening to me too. In the beginning, you sign with teams or sponsors because of your results. I was the world champion and that was it. No one asked about social media followers, views or engagement. But now, you are asked about social media following.

In the beginning, you sign with teams or sponsors because of your results. I was the world champion and that was it. No one asked about social media followers, views or engagement.  But now, you are asked about social media following.

While it is interesting to see, it’s also a little bit hard to adapt as a racer or as an athlete. I’m maybe a little bit of the older generation, so I’m probably more the hardcore athlete, and not so much of the social media athlete. I try to keep up and do my best as well.

It has definitely changed over the years. Back in the day, sponsors would look for athletes that have the results. Now sponsors don’t really look for that anymore. The people that are applying for the sponsorships is way wider now. Somebody may apply with no skills or results, but this person looks really cute or has a great social media following.

This person may apply for the same sponsorship as the person with results and skills. They may also end up being sponsored by the same sponsors. Not all the application for sponsorship are for racing either.

People will do video projects, photo shoots or travel and go to places to do video shoots just for social media. So it’s definitely becoming more interesting and harder. It’s harder to get the sponsorship at that point.

For me, at one point, when it all started happening, I remember I was riding my bike. I started thinking about what I should post, where I should take pictures or what would look good. I got a hold of myself and was reminded that I needed to train. You also need to make time to post something on social media. It has become a part of your daily routine.

Christian: Because it is much more important now, do you need to make plans in your schedule to do that?

Anneke: Yes. We joke about it sometimes. We ask each other whether we are going on a social ride or a training ride. This is, because sometimes you go riding and you’re stopping and taking photos. While it was fun, it was a big shift for me. I had friends that did that a lot.

They would just go and get like really nice shots and it’s awesome. But for me as an athlete, I was always more interested in getting a higher heart rate. So I tried to hurry them along. But it’s important. It’s important to make that change.

For my social media, I really want to stick to who I am. I want to inspire the younger girls and generation of the kids that are coming up. I want to make sure that they don’t see too much of the fake stuff.

For my social media, I really want to stick to who I am. I want to inspire the younger girls and generation of the kids that are coming up. I want to make sure that they don’t see too much of the fake stuff. I want them to be able to be themselves.

I want them to be able to be themselves. And it’s so hard nowadays with all the social media that we have. You have to be perfect, but it’s not all perfect. We have our normal struggles and it doesn’t always have to be perfect.

Christian: Do you have a strategic plan for your social media activity or is it something you do more out of intuition?

Anneke: I would say a little bit of both. Some stuff is a little bit more planned and some stuff is just intuition. I think you have to have a little bit of a structure. This will help you to have a clear mind and prevent you from becoming too stressed.

It is just like having your clothes ready for the next day. What are you going to wear? Or it may be planning some stuff during the week. This is important if you know you’re going to have a really busy week or when you’re racing.

You cannot waste too much time sitting on your phone.  Yes, we all do it, we’re so stuck to that thing nowadays. But a little bit of a structure is important. You can deal with some stuff that just comes up.

Christian: Does your sponsor have marketing media people that help you with social media stuff?

Anneke: A lot of the contracts nowadays that I have contains a social media part in it. They will tell me what I have to do for them. There’s normally a number of post hashtags that I have to do for certain people or I have to tag them. But that’s also changing. Nowadays we have to look at the contract that we get, to make sure that we deliver what our sponsor asked us.

So it’s not only race results, but it’s also social media based. But I always try to keep it in a fun way. I’m not going to put a product here, like my Oakley glasses, without doing it in a fun way. Otherwise, people don’t like it as well. I try to keep it original and fun.

Christian: Since you have been through the transition, what advice would you give younger athletes in the sense of social media?

Anneke: Definitely, just try to be yourself. That’s so important I think. I think it’s a hard thing, especially if you look at the kids nowadays. There is so much pressure from the outside world to be perfect. Don’t worry about likes. It’s not about the likes or the followers.

Just be yourself. Don’t worry about likes. It’s not about the likes or the followers.

We’ll see where that is going to go in the future. I think the only thing you can try to do is be a good example and inspire them. I inspire them through my social media. I love it when kids come up to me at races and they say that they follow me. That for me is just as a great feeling as winning a race.

Having kids coming up to you and telling you that they follow you or you inspired them. It is so motivating to have that possibility. That’s also a cool thing about social media. Social media can drive you nuts sometimes. But on the other hand, I can post a photo and reach a girl in New Zealand.

I actually had a girl in Tasmania last year that came up to me, and said she was a super fan. I’m just a normal girl from the Netherlands, but you have somebody on the other side of the world that follows you. So I think that’s really cool. That’s a great power of social media as well. Hopefully, I can do more with that in the future to inspire people.

Anneke’s interview nomination

Christian: Do you want to nominate someone to be interviewed?

Anneke: Yes, and I think we’ll have to pick maybe two names in order to see if they can do it. I would love to try and get Reggie Miller in it. He is a great friend of mine. He is a basketball legend, but he loves riding mountain bikes. Not only does he love riding mountain bikes, but he’s very passionate about just sports in general.

I don’t know if you follow him online. You will see his workout videos and he’s always in a gym and hustling. Yet he is still traveling the globe, mainly the US, for commentating at the NBA Games.

And then, if that’s not going to happen, then I would love to see Marianne Vos. That would also very cool to have her. She’s been struggling a little bit with some injuries, so I would love to see how she dealt with all that.

Christian: She is one of the two athletes here in the Netherlands, that I admire without knowing them. I do admire them, for what they’ve done in terms of results. The other one is Epke Zonderland. Anneke: Oh yes. That’s amazing too. I don’t know him, but I can nominate him too.

Christian: If you look at what he has done. Crazy!

Anneke: It’s amazing, there are plenty of athletes that I admire. I have always admired Marianne, even though she’s younger than me. I watched her winning the Cyclocross world champs when she was super young and then the road. It was just amazing.

She did a little bit of mountain biking too. I remember she was junior, when she came to the world champs, in Italy. So I met her and saw her ride. It was pretty amazing. She is so talented and is still doing great as well in the sport and still winning.

Where can you find Anneke Beerten

Christian: Where can people find you?

Anneke: Social media, of course.

Instagram

Facebook profile

Facebook athlete page

Twitter

YouTube Channel

Website

And in person, sometimes in the Netherlands, mostly in California.

Christian: Anneke, thanks for your time.

Anneke: No, thank you. Thank you for your time and all the years of helping me out.

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