So you’re a paramedic in your day-to-day life. How do you manage this and your racing schedule; how does one impact the other?
I think the two are kind of synonymous. I’ve noticed a great correlation between being a paramedic and obstacle racing. Both of these expose you to many adverse conditions where you are forced to adapt what you know and what you are strong at to suit a situation.
But how do you find the time to do obstacle racing on an already super demanding profession?
If I only have 20 minutes to train, I utilize the whole 20 minutes.
It’s about priorities. I’ve become very accustomed to taking a step back and trying to figure out what truly is and isn’t worth my time. I see obstacle racing almost as a reward for the hard work I tend to put in on a daily basis.
I used to dedicate a certain amount of time in my life for obstacle racing, but as the years have gone on, I’ve found a more comfortable way of having it be a natural part of my life. If I only have 20 minutes to train, I utilize the whole 20 minutes. My trips for races are often only 2.5-3 days long. Fly in the night before, race the next day, and fly out either that night or the following morning. While the job is super demanding, I find training and racing obstacle courses to be a release for me, and it gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day.
Do you play any other sports? We notice that OCR athletes often come from an already active and sports-dedicated lifestyle.
Previously I was a competitive swimmer for about 10 years. I never played any contact sports in my younger years. OCR has also helped me branch out into marathon running and ultra marathon running. OCR was actually my ‘reintroduction’ into the athletic world after I had retired from swimming.
That’s interesting. So what made you choose precisely obstacle racing as a trigger to become active again? Or did it chose you?
Honestly I feel like it chose me. I had never heard about obstacle racing until a friend of mine asked me to join in with him on some ‘crazy mud run’. After the first race I was hooked, it drew me in immediately, and I suddenly developed all of these new aspirations and personal goals that I wanted to fulfil, since then it has just been building and building for me.
Looking back I never anticipated that this is where I would be now, and I would have never guessed that OCR would become such an important part of my life.
Did you ever have a bad experience during the race? Or an exceptionally good one you could tell us about?
I have been fortunate enough to only have good experiences during all of my races. An exceptionally good one that I could discuss would probably be from last season.
Spartan Race had opened up a venue that allowed you to try and complete all three distances of their race series in one day. I along with some of my closest friends in OCR decided to take on the challenge. It took us roughly 13 hours from start to finish – the weather was horrible hailing and freezing, we were all hurting, and we got lost once. Despite all of the trials and tribulations that we faced externally, we all buckled down and stayed strong mentally, and it carried us through the day (and into the night) and we all successfully completed the challenge we set out for ourselves. I’ve never been left in a worse physical state following a race, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
So it sounds like experienced something close to the legendary Death Race. What kept you going when things were really tough? In other words, what does grit means to you?
The ability to stay strong in the face of adversity and complete your task despite any obstacle is how I would best define ‘grit’
I kept reminding myself that I wasn’t a quitter, I knew going into the challenge that it was going to be difficult. I hadn’t anticipated the amount of external troubles that we ended up facing, but what kept me going was the satisfaction I knew i would feel when I finally crossed the finish line.
The camaraderie of the people I was running with was outstanding, and I think having that solidarity with them being in the same situation as I was really helped me persevere. We were all in it together, and none of us were going to let anyone else fall. I think that really kind of summarises what grit means to me. It’s about getting to that place where you feel like you have nothing left, and pushing yourself beyond that moment and truly exposing yourself. The ability to stay strong in the face of adversity and complete your task despite any obstacle is how I would best define ‘grit’.
Do you have a personal mantra you use in moments like that?
Find Your Greatness – I unfortunately can’t take claim for the saying, but I have said it to myself every single day for years.
Nice. Let’s dive into the more technical bits. What does your training plan looks like? Do you follow any conventional or unconventional training programmes?
Currently I’m running 3 days a week. Saturday’s are my long run days, and I usually find two weekdays to work on some of the finer points of my running – i.e. strides and fartleks. Other than that I do crossfit 5 days a week – this was a recent addition for me, previously I had been training in a regular gym ding conventional weight lifting programs. Sundays are a rest day for me.
My go-to snack is orange juice and raisins – its a powerhouse of energy
What do you eat before and after your training?
Usually before a training session I look to take in some quick clean energy that won’t make me feel like I’m being weighed down. My go-to snack is orange juice and raisins – its a powerhouse of energy. Post training is always followed by a significant protein intake and a hearty supper. I try and stay away from eating processed foods on a regular basis. I try and take my carbs in more during the evening, I find it helps me throughout the following day.
Thanks, we’ll have to try out the orange and raisin combo.
We believe good gear greatly contributes to overall performance. What does your race gear set look like and what do you always include?
Compression gear is always essential for me. Especially when there are races featuring lots of climbing. Reducing muscle oscillation is a great way to preserve energy and reduce fatigue. I always wear anti-blister socks as well, the last thing you need is swampy feet during a race. The less cotton the better! I usually stick a few mustard packets in my shorts as well for some turmeric!
Interesting – how do mustard and turmeric help you during the race?
It’s great for reducing inflammation and cramp reduction! I find it sharpens my senses when I feel like I’m wearing down mentally as well.
That’s good to know, I think our readers will find it super useful too. When it comes to nutrition and training, do you have any tips for how beginners to OCR should approach this?
I always try to remind people that it’s the small steps that climb mountains, not the large leaps.
The biggest thing I could offer is to not take on too much at once. I think the key to success is conquering small goals. If you want to run 5k without stopping, don’t get hung up on that set distance, I would recommend breaking it into increments and tackling the goal in small doses!
That is what i found helped me the most as i was trying to get stronger. I feel like sometimes people get discouraged if there aren’t immediate results, and I always try to remind people that it’s the small steps that climb mountains, not the large leaps.
Nice. We know that you are part of the North American Spartans. Can you tell us more about your team?
So we formed the team about a year ago. I along with Spencer Mahoney and Chris Herber had decided to team up and share accommodations at a race, and as we continued to get to know one another we decided that we should continue on and form a team! Since then we have added two more great athletes, JJ Tiscareno and Katy Kaestner. It’s been a year with these amazing athletes!
Is working on the team part of your goals for this year? If not, what is your main goal for 2015-2016?
It’s definitely always on the table for us, we always are keeping our eyes open for talented and dedicated athletes who exercise the same fundamental principles about health and fitness that we all currently share. As for my main goal this year, I’m always looking to improve. my biggest goal would be to maintain my speed while increasing my explosiveness and physical strength to help me power through the strength obstacles faster.
To wrap this up… If you could go back in time to when you started OCR, what would you tell to your past self? What would you have done differently?
I would definitely tell myself to prepare better for my first race! I was totally caught off guard by how challenging it was! Looking back I don’t think there is anything I would do differently, all of my experiences whether they are good are bad have taught me something, and I am grateful to have even had the ability to experience this amazing journey!
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