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Interviews

Talking the Primal Nature of Obstacle Races with Andrew Bowen

andrew-bowen-ocr-spartan-athlete

Why do you race? How did it all start?

I played soccer (goalkeeper) in high school and loved the sport, however fell out of the athletic mindset once in college. Drinking, eating junk, and sleeping in late was regular practice. The sedentary condition did not improve in married life and I let everything go. One day in early summer of 2014, I glanced at myself in the mirror and just felt disgusted, so I began exercising with P90X3 and lost 30 pounds. A chance invitation to a local mud run changed everything. With obstacle racing I finally had an outlet for fitness and now I train every day. I wish I would have discovered the sport earlier, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.

I enjoy its primal nature, the fact that espouses real world application. Jumping, crawling, climbing, running, the fury and the savagery of the sport. I can train anywhere, in any condition, and the rush of both training and fighting both your own limits and the competition beside you is unmatched.

 

As a blogger you share thrilling and inspiring racing experiences with the community. What drives you to document your experiences?

My first love was and is writing. I’m a storyteller. Chronicling my adventure with OCR is a great way to establish accountability for myself and connect with OCR folks around the world. I want to both help others with any trade tips I acquire and glean from others as well.

 

Andrew Bowen OCR interview spartan race What was the most memorable (or crazy) racing experience to date?

Carolina BattleFrog 2015. That race destroyed me (and a few others, I’ve heard). It was a perfect storm of freakish cold weather, rain, and the venue (an ATV course) was simply ripe for tormenting athletes. I had also just come off an IT band injury I thought had subsided, however it resurrected in all its burning glory about mid way through the race. I limp-ran the last 3 miles and finished the race completely disoriented. I finished 4th in age group however, so it wasn’t a complete disaster.

 

What made you persevere and finish it instead of calling it quits?

I zone out with these races. The same thing would happen in high school once I stepped onto the field and into the goal box. Something clicks inside me, like a targeting mechanism, and nothing else matters. Once I launch off the start line, there is no stopping.

 

Interesting, would you define it as a flow? Does it happen automatically?

It actually builds up, usually from the pre-race warm up. I just sink into race mode and everything becomes clear. I suppose it’s almost akin to a meditative state. There is literally nothing going on in my mind during a race, though I probably look like a rage monster on the course!

 

Andrew Bown Run Obstacle RaceThat’s a new way to approach racing.

Let’s talk about the more technical bits. What does your training routine look like?

Intentional chaos. I like to schedule my training a week at a time. Generally I run three days a week: speed work, hill work, and distance/endurance. Strength train on Monday’s, Wednesday’s, Fridays, with HIIT-style on Tuesday and Thursday. At least that’s the plan. Sometimes I’ll go for a random 3 hour ruck, or come up with a swimming pool routine. I also have a plethora of “found items” in my back yard, including logs, tires, ropes, and stumps that I play with when the mood strikes. That’s what I adore about OCR: unpredictability. I train the same way and have a blast in the process.

 

Do you have top 3 exercises you always default to/can’t train without?

Burpees, pull-ups, and carrying/dragging heavy things around.

 

Nice. Let’s say you could go back in time to when you started training, what would you do differently?

I would have graduated my running scheme. My passion for OCR grabbed me by the throat and so I was completely enthralled, throwing wisdom aside. That was how I injured my IT band and stunted my race season early this year. Now I’m good to go, but the echoes of that mistake carry on.

 

Have to say, been on the same route as well. Trying to focus on running as much as possible.

What about nutrition… are there any items which always end up in your grocery basket?

I have a lifelong love affair with chicken. Since getting healthy I’m also known to devour mounds of steamed veggies. I’ve developed an obsession for cottage cheese as well, mixed with blueberries. I could probably eat just that all day.

 

Do you fuel on on a race day with the same combo?

I’m actually still in the lab on that issue, so to speak. My diet tends to lean more Paleo, and I prefer to eat light before a race. Maybe some sweet potato and banana with cottage cheese, depends. I won’t eat anything the morning of a 5K race; just an energy drink.

 

Andrew Bowen OCRWhat about post-race nutrition? Correct me if I’m wrong but in one of your articles you wrote about staying strong and keeping up a good food discipline rather than having a fast food cheat meal?

That’s how I try to operate right now because, honestly, I just don’t have the willpower to resist. I’m not saying cheat meals are wrong for everyone; I’m just not in a place right now to incorporate them in my nutritional regimen. Post-race is typically a standard banana and a lot of water.

 

We asked multiple athletes about their gear picks, but with you let’s do something different…

What’s your best new thing which you recently introduced in training/gear/nutrition, that gave you an extra boost in performance?

My wife surprised me with a 50 lbs Wreck Bag for Father’s Day and it’s become my best friend. The versatility of the Wreck Bag (and it works for homemade variations as well) is priceless. I also could not function without whey protein shakes. I design my workouts to destroy me, so I need something quick and easy for recovery. In addition, I’m also found of the Insanity: Asylum DVD series of workouts. They are a great wild card in my training and provides more variation and nuance to prepare me for the course.

 

To wrap things up, what are you goals for the upcoming year or two?

This year I’m aiming for my first Spartan Race trifecta and to break the course record at the local mud run that started everything for me last year. For 2016 I’ll be in more races competing in the elite heats. I’ve also began to perform more outreach locally, getting other folks involved in OCR and assisting with training and fitness.

 

Good luck with it!

Given your passion for writing can we expect a book for OCR at some point too?

Very likely. I’m still gathering intel and experience, but of course I’d love to give back to this sport in any way possible.

 

Great, keep us posted. How can people find more about you?

www.andrewbowenocr.com is where all of my OCR related information can be found, as well as www.facebook.com/andrewbowenocr, and www.instagram.com/andrewbowenocr.

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