Last season, not only did you compete in the Spartan Championship Race Series, and the World Championship in Tahoe, but you were the only Pro Team member to complete all of the Spartan Deltas. Can you talk a little more about this and your motivation for completing them?
After shaking up the OCR world in 2015, I really wanted to dive into 2016 and compete in as many events as I could to prove that I wasn’t just a one-hit wonder. I set out with a few crazy goals in mind and knew it was going to take a lot of hard work to achieve them, but as an endurance athlete I’m all about testing the limits of the human body and this seemed like that next thing. My first goal was to earn the Spartan Perfect Delta and Trifecta Delta both in one season. But apparently that still didn’t sit well with me so I decided to push the limit a bit more by only allowing pieces on the Perfect Delta to be earned from Elite races that were won.
How are you approaching this season compared to last year?
I’m approaching this season with the focus on winning the US Championship Series. I earned my Spartan Perfect Delta last year and 5x Trifecta, which took a lot more focus away from solely training for the Spartan US Series races and World Championship than I initially thought it would. I truly believe that earning the US Series title names the best all-around OCR athlete of the year so I’m putting all of my effort into this goal for 2017.
However, a more important goal of mine is to help shape and improve the sport of obstacle course racing as a whole. I competed in every single race that I was able to last season in order to really get out and see the good, the bad, and the muddy. I found that there is a strong presence of race brands, but a lack of organization within the sport to act in the best interest of the athletes as a whole and to really make OCR an Olympic contender.
This season I’ll be working hard with USA OCR to bridge the gap and make official sanctioning a priority, ensuring safe obstacles, an enforced rule book through officiating, equality for athletes, anti-doping, accurate results, and much more that every event should offer.
How are you approaching Best Ranger from a training and nutrition standpoint? Are you competing with your same partner this year? Do you approach your training together, or separately?
I train six days a week literally two or three times every day to prepare for three days of nonstop events. There are so many different demands that I can go the full week of training without doing the same task twice. I’m often putting in 50-plus miles a week, most of which is under load carrying a 45-pound-plus ruck, m4 weapon, fighting load carrier, Army uniform, and military-style boots.
With day after day of pushing your body, recovery becomes one of if not the most important aspect of endurance training. You have to fuel your body and allow it to absorb the nutrients you need to make gains and pre-load for the next workout or event. I focus on clean eating and getting my caloric intake from whole foods in their most natural form. The amount of damage I do to my muscles requires a large amount of quality protein and glycogen for optimal recovery so I’m not losing gains. Again, I only use the most natural products so Ascent is a no-brainer, being the most native whey protein available. I also understand the importance of sleep and of having greater concentration of amino acids that stimulate muscle protein synthesis while resting. It’s during this period when your body does the most muscle repair and why having micellar casein before bed is critical to a speedy recovery.
What was one of your favorite races from last year? Least favorite? Why?
My favorite race of last season was the Austria Spartan Beast. It was truly epic in all aspects; great administration, extremely difficult, and breathtaking scenery. The completely unknown obstacles, course map, and distance made it beyond exciting as you truly had no idea what you would be facing.
My least favorite race of the 2016 season was the Monterey Super. I had just returned from a two-week Annual Training event with the US Army National Guard, where I was working 12-hour night shifts. Lack of a normal schedule, proper nutrition, and constricted training left me feeling a bit off on race day. I ended up pushing through the race with pure guts, but it was one of the most painful races I’ve ever done.
How do you use Ascent as part of your training regimen? Has this evolved and changed since last year?
I've been incorporating Micellar Casein into my recovery plan every single day, taking in a scoop before bed with some chocolate milk to make a pudding some nights, but most with just water or skim milk. This really allows my body to maximize the sleep recovery period and repair for the next day’s workouts.
Also after learning my exact caloric intake, glycogen, and protein needed each day from tests conducted at the University of Boulder Sports Center I was able to incorporate a more balanced diet than ever before. Last year I wasn't taking in nearly enough of the right natural foods, which was a big change from this year, including Ascent Protein, which most people don’t realize because it’s native and not a supplement like other protein powders.
Specifically during the day I mix one scoop of unflavored Ascent Whey into chocolate milk after every endurance workout. For strength and speed workouts I use water and vanilla-flavored Ascent whey within 30 minutes post-workout. Some days I’ll also use Ascent as a meal replacement protein shake with other natural foods like fruit, nuts, and vegetables.
What drives you to attempt to accomplish so much in any given year? BRC, Spartan Race, your military career, your family, etc…. You have so much on your plate. Where is your motivational force coming from?
I sometimes wonder myself where all the motivation comes from after knowingly putting so much on my plate in a given year. I am a faithful person and believe that everything happens for a reason. There is a path already laid out, and for me it’s been very clear when big life decisions arise which way I should go: the hard way. Like most people, I do often feel like I’m overwhelmed balancing family life, coaching, racing, traveling, and military training. I don’t know if it’s just because I have such a passion for doing hard things, then saying, “Okay, what’s harder than that? I want to do it” or the feeling of self-gratification I get from achieving something I thought I couldn’t. But that process seems to just repeat itself over and over again.
I love being outdoors and exploring new things, especially in Colorado. Between trail running, snowboarding, surfing, swimming, cycling, rock climbing, and cross-country skiing I don’t know of a better place to accommodate for everything I do.
I am also a big believer that hard work pays off. Right now being a professional athlete and member of the US military is providing for my family. I want my children to have a much better life than I did growing up so in my mind the harder I work the better off they will be, which is a huge driving force for me. Having my family attend races and seeing how proud they are despite the outcome is a great feeling. They have someone to look up to and strive to be great at whatever they decide is their passion. It’s extremely difficult to be away from my family with such a busy training and racing schedule, but that makes the time we do spend together that much more important.
What is one skill that’s on the list for 2017 that you want to develop?
In 2017 the skill I’ve set out to work on most is shooting. It’s been my dream since first becoming a distance runner in middle school to be an Olympian. A new development within the sport of modern pentathlon presents a strong possibility for a short-course, obstacle mixed-relay laser pistol format in the 2020 Games. For this reason, I’m going to put everything into improving my shooting ability to prepare for a spot on Team USA.