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  • About VJ
  • June 24, 2023 3 min read

    It seems most people who get into competitive obstacle course racing are runners who make a natural progression to OCR. That wasn’t the case with me.

    To begin with, I was a late bloomer athletically. I dabbled here and there in my youth with gymnastics, softball and basketball but never really made a commitment to any sport. Then in 2016 I joined a gym and got a wild hair that I wanted to try obstacle course racing, the only drawbacks…I wasn’t very strong and I wasn’t a runner! But I gave it a go and every part of it was challenging and immediately after that first race, I said I wouldn’t do another one.

    A week later after recovering, I knew I could do better, I wanted to do better!

    So, I got a personal trainer and began training hard, and a year and a half later I bumped up to the competitive age group division. VJ Shoes Lu Telford Spartan Race in XTRM 2

    I had a pretty good start, consistently making the top 10 but I could never quite reach the podium. I remember so many races where I questioned things I did in the race, where could I have pushed more, and how could I have done better and it was always a week of self-questioning and doubts about my abilities after the race.

    But I remember the moment that changed everything for me, a Sacramento Spartan where my Coach attended to support me and watching me, she realized what was slowing me down more than anything was my running. 

    At that time, I was attempting to “coach myself” with running…which meant I was really only getting in one running day a week. And when I crossed the finish line she said “I am taking over your running coaching”.

    And that she did, I went from running once a week to running 5 days a week with sprint work, long distance, short distance, slow runs, fast runs and hill work.

    I finally became a confident runner.

    Of course, I still made mistakes…there are so many lessons to learn as a runner. The importance of warm-ups and dynamic stretching as well as active recovery. Also, the more competitive I became I found myself competing against people on training runs (who didn’t even know we were racing 🤦🏻‍♀️) and caused myself a few injuries. The worst was running with a strained calf and striving to beat a girl on the trails, which I did but I was the one who ultimately lost because in compensating for the strained calf on my right leg I ended up straining my groin on my left leg! What a hard lesson that was!

    Fast forward a few years and many, many miles later, I continued in OCR competitively and became consistent in the top 5, I learned so much about what my body and mind are capable of. I learned how to push when everything inVJ Shoes USA Lu Telford Spartan Race Podium VJ Shoes XTRM 2 my body was telling me to stop.

    I learned the body does what the mind says.

    And eventually, I made that podium! What a feeling that was! But it also made  me realize while yes winning is the goal in every race, it is not the focus. The focus is running your best race, knowing you have put in the work and done absolutely everything to prepare and knowing you will give 100% of yourself in that race but also accepting you never know what each race will bring.

    But as long as you can cross that finish line with no regrets, knowing you gave the race full respect and gave absolutely everything you have and did not “sacrifice the gift” (Prefontaine) that is the best takeaway from a race.

    Over the last couple of years, I have realized that the root of what I really love and what I feel passionate about is running, and also discovered I am actually good at it. I have completely embraced everything about running…the joys, the struggles, the peaks, the valleys and everything in between.

    So, this year I made the choice to switch from OCR to trail racing, and what a difference I have noticed! I have not had one race where I regretted anything, I feel confident and focused and so happy when I cross that finish line knowing I gave everything every moment of the race.

    And I have made the podium in my last 5 races…again not the focus but such a nice reward! VJ Shoes USA Trail Race Lu Telford XTRM 2

    I’m looking forward to growing more as a trail runner and working towards eventually trying out an ultra. And I will continue to enjoy every moment of the wind in my hair!! 

    -Lu Telford @lulutelford