Photo: Tough Mudder
She’s one of the nicest people on the OCR circuit – and she just happens to have won the OCR World Championship three years in a row. Yup, Lindsay Webster is on the blog today, talking through a typical day in her life as a pro obstacle racing athlete.
Plus, don’t miss my five quick-fire questions at the end of Lindsay’s write-up, where she chats about her recent foray into vertical kilometre racing (with a win) and her plans to try her luck in skyrunning. Personally, I’d love to see this happen as Lindsay would be force to be reckoned with on the skyrunning circuit!
Morning – Wake-up, feed the animals and have breakfast
I typically wake-up around 8am, sometimes a bit earlier or sometimes later! I know, right, pretty fantastic? A big part of being an athlete is making sure you get enough sleep, during which my body recovers from everything I’ve put it through. Some athletes sleep ten hours a night and then even have a nap during the day, but I seem to run just fine on about 8-9 hours of sleep.
After I wake up, I’ll head downstairs, feed the animals and let them out. Right now, we only have a dog and cat, but one day I’d like for that to include some chickens, a few sheep and generally just a whole hobby farm. Next, I make coffee! My husband [elite OCR athlete and ultra-runner, Ryan Atkins] and I usually get up around the same time, and he’s typically verryyy hungry when he wakes up and is not great at sharing the kitchen. I’ll drink my coffee and do some muscle rolling with my balls and foam roller while I wait for him to make his breakfast. Then it’s my turn! I usually eat an egg and a few pieces of bread (homemade, if I’m lucky) with honey on one and jam and cheese on the other, with berries or grapefruit on the side. Other days I’ll eat oatmeal with berries.
After breakfast I’ll take care of some house chores or computer work while I digest. Usually I’ll do housework in the morning and computer work after I train, because when it’s morning and my energy levels are topped up I find it hard to sit still! If it’s summertime, I have gardens and a veggie garden that I’ll water and tend to. If it’s winter, there’s maybe some snow to shovel. Then there’s always those house chores every homeowner has to do like laundry, vacuuming (especially when you have a large fluffy dog!), or more often than not, packing or unpacking from travel.
Training session #1 – followed by lunch
After a few hours of work, I’m usually feeling pretty antsy and need to get outside. Time to head out for training session part one! I live in a little town called Caledon, Ontario, which is north-west of the city of Toronto and in the countryside. Lucky for me, there are tonnes of trails to choose from right outside my doorstep. My first training session of the day is usually cardio based, whether that be running intervals, a mountain bike ride, cross-country skiing, or a long run. Some days, I’ll have a long training session (3-4 hours straight) and I’ll have the afternoon to recover, but most days I’ll train a few hours in the morning and then again in the afternoon.
It’s true that on some days, pushing myself out the door to train is harder than others, but if I have enough sleep and my nutrition has been good, then I’m usually excited for it! Always keep training interesting. It should never be a chore, always a lifestyle that you can and want to sustain. Try new sports, drive to train in new places, and sign up for races that excite you and will keep you motivated.
After training, I always take a few minutes to stretch. Some days I’ll get in to it and spend a full half-hour stretching. Other days, taking the time is painful because I just want to shower and get some food in my mouth!
A typical lunch for me includes a smoothie bowl (blended banana, raspberries, blueberries, Greek yogurt, pomegranate juice, and coconut milk) with a bunch of granola, a massive salad, or a vegetarian wrap.
Post-lunch – Admin and social media
At this point I’m ready to get off my feet and recover for a bit, so I take care of some computer work. People always ask me what the heck kind of work I have to do as an athlete, but surprisingly there’s a lot. As a full-time athlete, it’s not just about training. I have sponsors who make it possible for me to focus on training full-time so that I don’t have to go to work, but this comes with obligations on my behalf, too.
Social media is a big part of this. If it weren’t for sponsors, I’ll admit I probably would have deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts a long time ago, but it’s important for sponsors to connect with people through my audience. It takes up a few hours of every day, between (some days) making a post, replying to comments and messages. I realise I’m not necessarily expected to reply to everyone, but I enjoy chatting with people! Then it’s really fun to meet people at races who I’ve talked with online.
On top of that, today for example, computer work involved checking emails (usually from sponsors organising travel or requesting something written), writing this blog, paying bills, creating travel invoices, a phone call with my sponsor to talk about a live Q&A session we’re setting up, and making a list of gear I use for races and training that a sponsor needed for their website.
Late afternoon – Strength training, road cycling, yoga or physio
At this point it’s usually already 3 or 4pm. How the time flies by every day I’ll never know! Some days I’ll do a strength session, and if I’ve already done running intervals I’ll usually go for a road bike ride to spin out my sore legs. Late afternoons are always different for me. Most of my friends work 9-5 jobs, but they’ll be getting off work soon. A few times a week I’ll meet friends to go rock climbing, or we’ll go out or have people for dinner. Some days I’ll have a physio appointment in downtown Toronto and then visit with friends in the city afterwards. Wednesday nights I can go to yoga or a local weekly mountain bike race.
If I’ve done a long training session in the morning so I don’t have to train that afternoon, and I don’t have plans with friends, I always have a fun project on the go. Right now, I’m building fences around my vegetable garden so deer can’t get in and eat my food. My husband and I recently bought a cabin near Lake Placid, which we’re renovating, so I’ll work on items for the cabin like refinishing furniture or building bookshelves. Both of us enjoy woodworking projects. I really enjoy cooking and baking, so lots of days I’ll jump in the kitchen around 5pm and make yummy things right up until about 8:30pm. My favourite thing to make is bread, but I also really enjoy baking pretty much anything and everything. We do try to eat healthy, so to refrain from having a plethora of pies or brownies in the kitchen, I’ll try and make healthy things like granola. If I do indulge in baking something, it’s usually working to perfect a favourite recipe or try making something I’ve never made before.
Evening – Make dinner, Netflix and read
I usually try to make dinner from scratch at home, not only because I enjoy it, but so that I know what’s in my food and I can eat lots of vegetables (they never feed you enough of them in restaurants!). I don’t have any dietary restrictions. I eat everything, but I like homemade and healthy, with lots of fruits and veggies. I try and eat vegetarian (for me this includes fish) about four times a week and eat meat the other three days. I DO drink beer, but usually just on weekends!
If my husband and I aren’t out with friends for the evening or having people over, we usually watch some Netflix. Athlete life is not that glamorous, and all our energy stores are completely spent by about 9pm, so we’re pretty quiet in the evenings! Most days, Ryan and I are in bed around 10pm. He falls asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow, but I’m a bit of a bookworm. I always have a book on the go, and I’ll stay up for another 30-60 minutes just reading.
5 Quick questions for Lindsay
#1. How’s your OCR season going?
Pretty good! I had a bit of a rough start because I was having some issues with my immune system and energy levels after my trip to India and Nepal. It’s better now, and I’m starting to really ramp up my training for World Champs season!
#2. Do you set goals in training?
Yes, usually long-term goals. I’ll choose a few ‘A’ races to focus on throughout the race season, and I always have a focus on World Championships season in September. My training gradually ramps up throughout the season so that I’m hopefully ready for those races.
#3. Are you always up for training or are there any elements you dislike?
I really dislike strength sessions, which is why I’ll opt to go rock climbing instead. If I go with friends at the climbing gym, I can throw in strength sets in between climbing sets while my arms recover.
#4. Are you still considering giving skyrunning a try?
YES! I was planning on doing a race in Italy this year that’s part of the European series, but it fell through at the last minute. I won’t let that happen next year! I did do a local Sky Race and VK (vertical kilometre) race recently at Whiteface Mountain near our cabin in New York, and I managed to snag the win in both races. However, I didn’t set the course record for fastest female time ever, so I’d like to keep working towards that and it will motivate me in training. I was about a minute off the VK record, and the Sky Race was 38 degrees Celsius so I started having some heat stroke issues, but still managed to beat my previous personal record on the course.
#5. What races are you looking forward to this year?
I was really excited for the Sky Race I just mentioned above. I’m also really excited for the OCR North American Championships in Vermont this August.