If you guys don’t make it through this entire blog, here is the bottom line up front for some keys to success:
1) Set goals
2) Believe in yourself
3) Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your own inner voice
4) Sacrifice time in other areas of your life and create a schedule
5) Find someone to hold you accountable or announce your goals publicly
6) Be consistent, efficient, and effective
7) Learn from failures; change takes time
8) Do “training races” to prepare for your “A race” event - there is something about a race that will allow you to push yourself to new limits and make improvements that simply can’t be done on your own because competition breeds excellence!
Now let’s get into the meat and potatoes... literally! There are numerous benefits to eating health besides just working out. I notice a massive difference in how I feel throughout the day and even sleeping depending on what foods I eat, when I eat, and how hydrated I am. Being both an athlete and a father, a good night of sleep is critical for success in training and competition! I almost always try to stay away from fast food. Even when I travel, I pack a lunch with foods that I know will not upset my stomach. Eating at unknown restaurants when traveling can be risky. I like to shop at a grocery store and control the freshness of everything that I consume. I make a simple turkey, tomato, spinach, avocado, brown mustard, and organic cheese sandwich, with a side of pretzels or sticky rice. It has taken a lot of trial and error to find out what works for me, and I’m sure that will be the case for anyone. The same goes for pre-race meals the day before and the morning of the competition. However, hydration is something that takes days and even weeks to achieve an efficient level. It’s critical to consume the required electrolytes, and even better if you can emulate the benefits of taking a medical IV.
When training, you have to be flexible and squeeze in what you can when you can, all while listening to your body. Sometimes I don’t have time to get in a workout or feel exhausted, but I know it must get done to reach my goals and something is better than nothing. So I get it done, no matter what, and that’s the definition of living exhausted. I can often utilize HRV monitoring systems like Whoop to calculate how recovered I am each day and adjust my training efforts accordingly. During those days, I tell myself that tomorrow’s workout will be a more quality one since I’m not pushing myself over the edge today. And for the most part, that stands true. I firmly believe in quality workouts over quantity which allows me to maximize efforts during all my workouts. It’s better to put in 4 solid two a-days every week - endurance and strength - over three months. Rather than six days a week for half that time. Often rushing the process will lead to injury.
In my opinion, true grit and talent will get you farther in an Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) than destroying yourself every day. For OCR, cross-training is more beneficial than in any other sport because of the diversity covered during an obstacle course race which requires speed, strength, and endurance. My favorite ways to cross-train are biking, swimming, and rock climbing. When I cross-train, I’m still thinking of how that workout will benefit me during a Spartan race. Riding a bike can help you with hill climbing by keeping up your leg strength. The next day I’ll start with a swim or yoga to get the legs loose before focusing on speed. After speed days, I like to recover with a hike, wearing a HyperWear weight vest, or carrying my kids for a long distance; that way, I’m enjoying the best of both worlds (working out and being a father). And after a recovery day, I work on strength or take an off day to recover before starting the process again. Of course, being in the military made me an expert at time management, which helps me balance working out, going to work, spending time with the family, and still getting the right amount of off-time. I tailor my workout schedule to allow me to get in workouts while the kids are sleeping or even take them with me to give my wife some time to relax, even if it is just for an hour or two.
All of this to say: make time for who you love, what you love, and #LiveExhausted.
- Robert Killian