Elite obstacle course racer Anna Solomon shares her love for the sport and her veganism.
I had been wanting to do an Obstacle Course Race (OCR) for several years, and none of my girlfriends would go with me. So finally I found one that seemed less intimidating called the Dirty Girl Mud Run. It was female-only, there were no chipped times, and half of the obstacles were inflatable, so I managed to convince a couple of friends to enter it with me.
It got me immediately addicted. I wondered why I hadn’t been doing it for my entire life – the best thing about it is that you basically get to be a kid again. But I also realised that I have a competitive side. I really wanted to beat everyone! Since then, I’ve probably done over 60 races. It’s varied year to year, but I usually do at least two a month.
Everyone laughs at me when I say my favourite obstacle, but I love the underwire crawl. I practice a lot of yoga, so I can get my hips really low to the ground and charge right through. In the US, the men’s elite heat goes before the women’s – so I always end up passing a ton of guys on those. That’s a good feeling!
I probably train about 20 hours a week in total. I consistently run about 40-50 miles a week. Since I do triathlons I bike probably another 5 hours a week or so. I’m a big believer in plyometrics, which are basically jump training exercises. They really work those fast-twitch muscle fibres that help with the transition from running to obstacle to running.
If I sometimes feel like I don’t fancy getting out and exercising, my rescue German Shepherd Fini definitely helps with that. Every morning we get up and go for a walk or a run, or go and play in the park where I can practice on the monkey bars. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining – I really don’t get to choose whether I go out or not!
I’ve been vegan for the entire time I’ve been into OCR. When I was at university, I took a class on environmental studies, and by the end of it I realised that I had to go vegan. Global warming is destroying the world, and the best way for me to counteract it personally is to stop eating animal products.
I didn’t have a transition period – I literally woke up and that was that. I was a fitness instructor at the time. I wasn’t worried that going vegan would affect me athletically until all of my peers started making comments. They said I would lose muscle, I wouldn’t have any energy, I would get sick. They made me really want to stick with it, out of stubbornness!
Obviously they were wrong. I experienced a lot of positive changes, instantly. Now, every time after I go to bed after a hard workout I wake up already recovered, so I’m very rarely sore. Compared to eating animal products, it’s so much easier for your body to break down plants and utilise that to rebuild your muscles.
I’ve got a lot of goals I’m working towards this year. I want to work on my mental grit – I think that’s a mindset you really need as an Obstacle Course Racer. It’s really easy to feel defeated if you find yourself in 30th place. But then, you can see people well ahead of you get stuck on an obstacle and it can all change in the blink of an eye.
In terms of OCR specifically, the last two years I’ve qualified for the Spartan World Championships and the OCR World Championships on the elite level, but one thing or other has kept me from going. So this year I want to go to them. My OCR team is also looking at doing World’s Toughest Mudder together.
Actions speak louder
As a vegan athlete I think the important thing is that actions speak louder than words. People get tired of being preached to, but how I do on the racecourse has people asking me what I’m eating and how I’m doing it.
By Elena Orde.
Keep up with Anna's antics via her website.
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