Justin plans to cycle across the country to help the American Heart Association. (Photo courtesy of Justin McClelland)
Written by Dionne Evans, editorial intern
Justin McClelland, a 31-year-old St. Lous entrepreneur, is taking a break from his usual life and moving to the open road. Today, he begins a cycling journey from New York City to Los Angeles. His mission: to raise awareness, and $10,000, for the American Heart Association. We chatted with McClelland before he hopped in the saddle to find out what motivates him to keep going, and who he hopes to affect on this journey.
Have you done anything like this before?
I’ve never been a cyclist. I grew up liking BMX, but the bike I have right now is the first I’ve ever known.
How are you preparing, then?
The trip is 3,300 miles, so I’ll be traveling for 33 days – I plan on riding 100 miles per day. I’ve only done a couple of long rides so far, but I primarily do two-a-day workouts each day: I run for 30 minutes, get on the stationary bike for another 30 and jump rope for a final 30 minutes. I also do weight training for my upper body, lower body, and core. I’m conditioning myself to be active daily, but I don’t want to burn myself out on the bike before the actual ride happens.
Were you really active before taking on this challenge?
I’ve always been very active. The last three weeks hasn’t been that big of a jump for me. Before, I worked out once a day. I’ve lived a pretty active lifestyle for as long as I can remember.
Do you know what your stops will be, or can people follow along?
I’m going through the midwest, mostly on back roads and rural highways. I don’t have a strict schedule because I didn’t want one to get in the way of enjoying the ride. But for some semblance of order, I’m aiming to cover 100 miles a day. I’ll be tweeting and blogging throughout the trip at my website, iHeartCardio, and then I’ll compose a documentary about the entire experience after it’s all done.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
Not taking a rest day. It helped to broadcast my goal online, to keep that accountability. There were days that if I hadn’t said I would train every day publicly, I would’ve taken the day off. There have been a couple of nights where it would get to 11 pm and I still hadn’t worked out, but because of my promise, I’d get up and start exercising.
Why did you decide to raise money for the American Heart Association (AHA)?
It affects both sides of my family, and after doing research and looking at statistics about heart disease, I realized how prevalent it is. It’s the leading cause of death in America. As Americans, a lot of us aren’t being the most active people. If I can do 8-10 hours of cardio a week, then others can at least do the AHA-recommended 150 minutes.
Who is it that you want to help most with your endeavor?
People should know how important it is to exercise at least 5 days a week. I’m hoping to help the people who don’t exercise. There are tons of ways for people to get their exercise - something as simple as parking your car further away so you walk more, or taking the stairs instead of the escalator.
What are you most looking forward to?
The solitude – just me on the open road and getting away from real life. Plus, I’m curious to see if I’ll be in the best shape of my life after this!
To learn more about McClelland’s ride, or to make a donation, visit iheartcardio.org.
Now you tell us: If you could raise money for any organization through fitness, which would it be and why?