How did you start racing?
I always had jobs that kept me active and I did lots of sports along the way. When I started my current business I found myself in the office at a desk working long days. Started to feel very out of shape and realised I needed a big change. I started to run which was great at first but quickly became bored. I started researching different types of races and came upon Spartan Race. I talked two of my friends into driving to Montreal to do one with me and we picked up our training a bit. We all instantly became addicted and wanted more. Before we knew it we were planning one to two races a month and started travelling all over North America to do it.
Do you still race to stay in shape or do you have a different drive now?
I keep trying to push my limits to become the best racer i can
It started for staying in shape and that is a huge aspect of it but there is so much more to it now. The OCR community is such a huge motivational factor that supports each other and pushes each other. Going to races and being a part of this community and seeing and hanging out with fellow racers and friends is big part as well. Also I can get competitive and racing on the elite side pushes me to want to be stronger and faster. I keep trying to push my limits to become the best racer i can. I always pick apart my races after i finish to see what worked and didn’t work so I can adjust my training or diet so that next time I can hopefully do better.
Can you tell us about High Existence team aka HEXT? We’ve already had the pleasure of speaking with Plant Powered Anna, who is also on your team, and she is one truly inspirational athlete. What united you together to form this team?
My team is a big aspect too. We push and motivate each other on a daily basis and travel to as many races together as we can. It started off with three of us at that first race. My friends Kirk MacLean and John Robinson and I all quickly became addicted to OCR. We shortly after realised we wanted to create an elite team with like mined people who both took racing serious but still wanted it to be fun and had a bit of a goofy attitude. Through IG we started to make many Spartan Friends who shared the same passion. Over time when we added four more incredible and inspirational athletes who shared our passion and brought their own strengths to the team. We learn from each other and help each other on a daily basis. There isn’t a day that goes by where we are not talking to each other. Pier-Anne Frigon was our first addition, followed by Anna Aresenault (Momstrong) , then we added Lorne Flindall and Anna Solomon (Plant Powered Anna). It’s really important to us to maintain team dynamics. Our team is really close with each other and we are like family. It really would be the same racing without them and I consider myself truly lucky to have such amazing teammates.
We’ve always wondered how competitive athletes race as part of a team. Do you race alone or tackle obstacles together?
We do both. Most races we are racing alone which is a part of racing elite. Although we are all at very close fitness levels so we’re still racing side by side and pushing each other during the race. There is a huge advantage to this because we know each other so well that we can be quick to point out our pacing or tell one another to push harder. We also are completive against each other and never know which one will beat the other to the finish line. This definitely gives us extra push and a little bit of extra HEXT pride till the next race. We also do make it a priority to run a few races a year together as a team where time isn’t as important but finishing all together and having fun along the way is. We always have lots of laughs and pull together as a team on these.
Plus we all travel together. We get up together and prep for the races. Have breakfast and talk about our race plan. Make sure we are all properly hydrated and warmed up.
Your family members are involved in OCR as well. Did they catch the racing bug from you?
Yes, two of my sisters started racing last year and this year. They blamed me at first but are now addicted as well and planning their next races. I’ve built my own course here at home so they have great place to come and train with me. It’s really amazing to see my sisters want to come to the same races and share in the experience. My children race a few Spartan Kids races each year as well. They love playing on our course and like telling their friends they have the best playground ever. My son who is 8 especially is amazing at the obstacles and likes trying to keep up with me.
Respect for raising a new generation of spartans! Could you tell us a bit about your course?
There are no gyms near where I live so I had decided to build myself some sort of training grounds. I started off with just getting a few weights and sandbags but needed more. In my first race I fell off the monkey bars so I decided to build a set that was comparable to the ones in the race so i could master them. Seemed fairly easy to build so I quickly decided I should build more. Before I know it I was planning a whole course and my own training routine around it. To save costs I built a super structure that has all the major obstacles for climbing built together. It keeps growing now and I am always adding more.
So what does your training routine look like?
My training itself usually involves running laps around a running track I have with either obstacles or exercises each lap. This gives a real feel for running a race. Having my own course too allows me amazing practice to master obstacles and work on the amount of energy needed for each obstacle which can make a big difference in a race. Some days as well when my teammates are with me we set up different obstacle challenges against each other which is like mini races. Like who can go across the monkey bars the most or how many times you can go do all the obstacles in row before your body is too tired.
Being busy with work two sometimes i just go play on the course trough out the day. Go climb the rope a few times before work and across the monkey bars as soon as I get home. I also run a lot. We have amazing hills and trails here which can be fun to go get lost in while running and enjoying nature. I like to run at least 4-5 times a week and always make sure it is on hills.
Interesting. Your social media channels are probably the most diverse we’ve seen in terms of training, showing a wide variety of exercises. Which one do you find the most useful for OCR?
My most rewarding go-to exercise would have to be my wall jumps. I have three walls in a row starting with a 4 foot, 6 foot, the 8 foot walls. Some days my goal will be to just keep going over them in order till I cant any more. It really works your whole body especially on the 8 foot wall and uses a lot of energy. You are using your legs, arms, shoulder and whole core especially when you have a different approach for each wall. They are very easy to build too if people have the space. They way they work your body definitely helps you prepare and strengthen yourself for almost all other obstacles
What about the mental training and grit.. Obstacle racing brings being uncomfortable to a whole new level. How do you manage to be comfortable being uncomfortable?
That definitely comes into my training. I always seek out new ways to challenge myself and push myself. Never be afraid to take the harder route and change it up. Plus the climate here can be very drastic. We have harsh long winters with very rainy springs and hot summers. I train outside and never let the weather stop me. If it’s a major snowstorm you can be assured I will go train in it. If it’s pouring rain and I’m suppose to run, then I run. Sun is beating down and its super got out then I’ll still do my obstacles. My teammate Kirk is also great at helping to push the limits. It was his idea this winter for us to keep jumping in the Cold atlantic each month so that we are always used to the cold water. Swimming around ice is never fun but you do get used to shocking your body.
As an experienced athlete do you notice any bad training patterns around the novice athletes? What would be one thing you recommend to do and focus on doing differently?
Never be afraid to take the harder route and change it up
I notice a lot of novice athletes will often try to do too much at first. You need to start off at your fitness level and work your way up. Social Media is great for gaining training ideas and seeing how others train but if it’s new to you, you need to start off with appropriate exercise work on your form and technique and build a solid plan. All of us OCR athletes want to push ourselves but we need to be smart about it. Our bodies are capable of so much but we need to properly train our selves and work our way up. Starting off work on your running and basic upper body strength exercise. As your heart grows stronger and your upper body becomes stronger then you can safely start pushing yourself and remain injury free. It doesn’t take long at all to improve and the rewards feel great.
Great tip. Let’s dive into nutrition.
Since you are directly involved in the farm market and quality produce industry, what are your eating habits? Do you follow any specific principles/diet plans?
I eat clean and avoid junk. Training a lot means I need to eat a lot. I always have lots of vegetables and fruits everyday. Organic when possible. Start my day off too with a fruit vegetable smoothie with a scoop of Vega One in it as part of my breakfast. Eating a well balanced diet is so important and can be difficult. I always make sure I get a lot of protein and carbs from clean sources. Lately too I have also been cutting more meat out of my diet with the help from my teammate Plant Powered Anna. She is an inspiration on vegan based diets and shows what an incredible athlete you can be while plant based. I’m cutting meat out over time though so that I do it properly and my body can properly adjust to the dietary change. I’m already feeling many positive effects.
What about fuelling for the race? You mentioned hydrating well beforehand is a big focus point, what else do you make sure to consume in order to perform best?
Week before a race I make sure I eat a lot of watery fruits. The two days before a race are your most important meals as you are building your energy reserves. Lots of carbs and protein while avoiding heavy food. Night before a race i like to eat Sushi. Nice and light, easy to digest and lots of carbs. Morning of, I usually have granola and chia seeds with yogurt and blueberries and banana. Half hour before I race I have another banana. If it’s a longer race then I will also have an egg or two with breakfast.
If you could go back to when you first started racing what are the 3 things you would do differently?
I would have put more focus on proper diet. I was a clean eater but didn’t understand proper pre race nutrition. You can train hard but if you don’t eat right you can run out of energy fast. Second would be to run smarter. When I started my running plan didn’t exist – i just ran when I felt like it, and had a small knee injury because of it and couldn’t run for about 2 months. I can’t think of a third – racing with a team and having that support has helped me from making too many early mistakes. Being able to bounce ideas back and forth is priceless.
And to wrap this up: What are your goals for the current racing season?
This year I’m aiming for 20 races between Canada and the USA. I plan on earning my coin and believe I have a great chance at it. Once at the Worlds I am aiming for top 20 in the Men’s Elite. My goal is to also be top 20 in the points standing for both Canada and the USA Spartan Rankings.
Nice – best of luck!
How can people find more about you?
Facebook: Patrick Austin