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Interviews

Discipline, Race Confidence and Winning with Alyssa Hawley

ocr elite athlete alyssa hawley

You just won first place female at the Seattle Super. How was that experience?

It was amazing. I was definitely super emotional at the end. I had a chip on my shoulder after being disqualified in Washougal. So I worked every single day with that thought in mind and I wanted to place top 10 at least but to be able to actually win it was beyond what I was expecting. It was just like a whole weight was lifted on me, that all my hard work paid off.

 

ocr athlete alyssa hawley spartan race elite 1st placeOh no – how did you get disqualified? If you don’t mind sharing…

Not at all! Honestly, if I hadn’t been disqualified I wouldn’t have worked so hard for the next one. Anyways, it was during the Hercules hoist: I pulled it all the way to the top and I wasn’t aware you couldn’t drop it so I dropped it and kept going without doing my supposed burpee penalty. I should have been paying more attention but hey I learned from it and it is what it is.

 

This was only your third race, right? How did your OCR journey start?

Yes it was only my 3rd! Well I played college softball and after I graduated I still had the desire to compete. I had been working out still but, I didn’t have something to go after, something to work for and I crave that motivation. So I actually saw a Spartan race on Groupon in New York and I was like, “ok this sounds doable. I can run and lift things” so I signed up and I immediately fell in love. I also won overall female and was like, “hey I guess I can do this, let’s keep this going and see if I can compete in elite”. That was my next motivation to keep building on what I’d done so far and keep competing. OCR is just a perfect blend of endurance, strength and mental toughness, and I just love it!

 

Do you have a pre-race ritual or a mantra that keeps you achieving these amazing results? What motivates you to run?

Jesus and coffee haha. Every morning I have my coffee and I read my Bible before every workout. God gave me this gift and has called me to race. That’s what motivates me: to glorify him in doing it and being able to make a positive impact in this new type of fitness world. And not only that but also just being able to stay healthy, compete and help others as well.

 

ocr athlete alyssa hawley spartan raceDo you have any tips for female racers for how they could become more confident in their fitness endeavours? What helped you kick butt right from the start?

I would say just have a solid training plan & stay dedicated to it, be mindful of nutrition, and read up on anything you can. Utilise Instagram workouts, the Spartan website, other racers’ blogs.

Confidence is a result of preparation and if you prepare and do all the dirty work every single day you’ll be ready to go on race day. And that’s really the hardest part, taking things one day at a time; focusing on what I need to do today, being aware of what I struggled with yesterday and what I can do today to work on it and make it a strength. It’s a huge mental aspect I think just pep talking yourself and reminding yourself everyday why you do this will help.

Finally, in terms of training you should be a strong runner and good at burpees. Running is a huge aspect and if you do fail an obstacle with the person next to you at least you can beat them on the burpees.

 

I agree so much! Consistency is huge for improvement, especially in training! Speaking of, how do you train for races?

I have upper body strength but running and burpees was not my forte and I really learned that after Washougal. I was like, “ok I really can’t run all that well”. So, as much I love lifting, I put running at the focus to make it my strength and I did 30 burpees every single day. Just as a reminder that I was disqualified and to stay disciplined and keep that drive. I think that also really helped.

I haven’t switched up my training a whole lot since the last race in Seattle. I lift upper body in the morning on Monday and Thursday. I lift legs on Tuesday and Friday. Then usually I’ll run on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and I’ll also run sometimes in the afternoon on lift days.

I’m just so blessed because I have trails and mountains that I go run in and usually I’ll add in 30 burpees every half mile or push ups, dips, lunges. During weight training I use a lot of super setting and circuits and cardio inbetween sets and I cater my lifting toward Spartan obstacles. For example, any cable lift I do I use ropes to get used to grip strength. Or in seated row, I’ll do ropes one handed and I’ll use towels for pull ups. Then I just keep track of what I did the week before and I do more weight or more reps the next time.

 

alyssa elite ocr athlete biceps win racesWhat are your go-to/top3 exercises, which you think should be a staple for anyone in order to perform their best in the trenches?

Push ups, pull ups and lunges. (Do lunges while holding a dumbbell over your shoulder!) They just utilise every muscle that’s used for each obstacle and you can do them anywhere, anytime.

 

Awesome! What about recovery? Do you have a specific routine for that?

Great question – I really just listen to my body. If I need an off day, I will take one and just pick back up the next day. It’s really hard I think to do this at first because I think a lot of people could use it as an excuse. So what’s worked best for me is to just take the morning off if I’m super sore or feel like I’m being over worked, and then see how I feel in the afternoon. So there really isn’t a set day. It takes practice and it’s hard for me because I don’t feel like myself when I don’t get a workout in.

That said, I’m all for recovery and sleep! Making sure stretching is a big component of training and I’ll do it if I’m watching TV too. Also, staying hydrated and getting sleep. I’m early to bed, early to rise.

 

Any stretches in particular that you love? I’m a big fan of any shoulder and hip opener personally.

Childs pose! I could fall asleep like that, lol.

 

So – talking about nutrition. What do you usually eat on training days?

During the week I’ll usually have half a small protein bar in the morning and some whey afterwards. For runs I’ll typically just have a hammer gel. Throughout the day I kind of have to eat on the go, so I’ll bring with me some apples and bananas, nuts and some meat like chicken with veggies that I can just eat at work. Dinner is usually again meat and I looove salad. I really just stay away from refined food and grains.

 

ocr athlete alyssa hawley spartan runningNice. Aside from avoiding refined food and grains, do you have any specific nutrition trick which has been a game changer for you?

Honestly – adding carbs. I was on a Keto diet before Washougal and felt terrible during it. So I started adding back in some oatmeal, sweet potatoes and bananas and it’s helped a ton. I don’t go a day without bananas. I would say they’re the biggest game changer, especially for recovery. I like to have one with a little almond butter or protein before bed and I feel amazing the next morning for workout.

 

Ooh – yum!
So what’s next for you? Any goals for future races or the next season?

Sacramento, CA in 2 weeks! I’ll be doing the Spartan Super on Saturday and the Sprint on Sunday so I’m super stoked for that. And then Temecula, CA January 30th for the same thing and then Seattle in April 23rd and finally my trifecta in May in Montana! And who knows inbetween, but those are my solid plans. My goals are to be top 5 in those races, and the Beast I really just wanna finish that, lol. Maybe place in top 10.

 

Sweet. Wishing you the best of luck!
How can our readers find out more about you?

Thanks, you too!

Instagram: Christian.warrior14
Blog: https://christianwarriorpnw.wordpress.com/

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