Looking ahead at our racing calendar, it always stirs up so many feelings. There’s the excitement for the adventures of traveling to different places. The adrenaline rush of competition and tackling the race course and obstacles! The happiness and fun of being around friends and fellow racers. The overwhelming feeling of figuring out the logistics of finding a baby sitter and traveling- there’s no easy (or cheap) way of flying out of Shreveport, Louisiana. The nervousness of wondering if I’m good enough to win.
After a slow recovery from pregnancy and childbirth last year, I came pretty close to making it back to where I wanted to be. While my racing season wasn’t what I expected, I was fairly happy with my results. I want 2018 to be the year of my top athletic performances, setting new PR’s, running longer distances, and mastering every obstacle. With dozens of OCRs, Championship races, triathlons, and tons of local road races, I have so many opportunities to reach my goals! But what happens when I keep getting hit with setbacks?
I waited until after racing season last year to have surgery to repair a hernia I got during pregnancy. I figured I would take the holiday season to recover and be ready to go by January. The doctor said I’d be cleared to start exercising after 4 weeks, but it was 6 weeks before I could even attempt to run. Then, it was more of a slow, uncomfortable jog.
Getting back into long runs and speed work on the track was going to take some time. Hanging from a rig was even more difficult! Even now, 4 months later, I still have discomfort that keeps me from doing certain exercises. I even found out recently that the hernia is still there! It was never actually repaired! I have no interest in having surgery again and going through that process, but I have to be careful of the activities I do, and my future sexy six-pack will have to wait.
To go along with that, recurring injuries in my knees and feet have been putting me on the sidelines. I wanted to be able to put in 100 miles a month, but I can barely run a few days out of the week. I wanted to increase my speed, but the inconsistent running has slowed me down. While I’d be fine during a run one day, I’d be in pain the next day, barely able to walk. It takes almost a week to recover from a run and be able to run again without pain. How was I going to have my best racing season if this keeps happening? The answer – A little creativity, some flexibility, and a lot of mental preparation.
I do what I can to prepare and repair my body – ice baths (yes, ice baths), TENS units, stretching, foam rolling, massages, heat/ice packs, inversion table, hot tubs, compression sleeves, and anti-inflammatories. However, sometimes it’s not enough and my body just won’t let me run. During those days, I make sure I’m doing something else that is going to help me in races. My number one back-up is the bike. I have my bike set up on a trainer so I can hop on early in the morning when my baby Nico is still sleeping and ride for hours. The step-mill is another fun machine that is great for hill training. That thing kicks my butt every time!
Strength training is always part of my training plan, whether I’m lifting weights or doing body-weight exercises. Pull-ups, dips, and dead hangs are so helpful when it comes to completing just about any obstacle. We are lucky to have an Alpha Warrior Rig at our gym, so I make that part of my training as much as I can. Swimming is always a good alternative when running is too painful. Not only will it help me in my triathlons, it’s a great way to build endurance and gives me a lot of time to zone out and just think.
Which brings me to the last, and most important part – meditation. Over the past few years of competitive racing, I have learned how important it is to be at the top of my mental game. It can make or break a race. It can mean successfully completing an obstacle or being stuck there for hours. It’s the difference between 1st and 2nd. It determines a podium finish or a DNF.
Yes it’s much more easily said than done, as I have let my mind get the best of me and destroy my race several times. It takes practice and time to master this, but I am working on it. Focusing on what I want, visualizing the race, creating the best results. With all of these things in place, I know I can have my best racing season yet. I have completed 5 races so far this year, with four 1st place finishes and a 2nd place finish. So I am off to a great start and am excited for what is to come next!
By: Ambassador Rachel
Who am I? I am a wife, a mom, an athlete, a teacher, a daughter, a sister, a friend. It was our love of OCR that brought my husband, Air Ken, and I together. We met on the podium of Savage Race FL and have kept that tradition going ever since. We have the most wonderful 1-year-old boy, Nico. After teaching elementary school for 12 years, I decided to take some time off and stay home with our son. It has been such a joy to watch him grow and change, and I absolutely love sharing our passion for health, fitness, and racing with him. Being a military family, we had to move away recently to Louisiana. While it’s hard to be away from friends and family across the country, it’s great to have fun places to travel and find new races!