This week on the Dirt in Your Skirt Athlete Profile Series is Valerie Smith she is one of the Dirt in Your Skirt Ambassadors. She is definitely the definition of an avid OCR racer and is constantly taking on new events every weekend. I am proud to call her a friend and I can tell you this year she turned 40 and just hit her first Spartan Elite podium. Valerie is just getting started these days!
How did you get involved in your sport?
In 2010, I was in kickboxing class and heard a guy talking about a race he just ran which involved mud and obstacles. Apparently he had just done Tough Mudder the previous weekend. I was quite intrigued by the obstacle part of it so I asked a few questions about it. After class I went home and searched for obstacle races and there was a Warrior Dash in just a few weeks. I immediately started looking for someone to do it with me and finally convinced one of my brothers to do it. I absolutely loved it and could not wait to go home and find more. I completed 3 or so my first year, about 15 my second year, 30 plus my second year and this year, I have no idea how many I will do. I have completed around 10 so far and the season has just started.
Were you always an athlete?
When I was younger I was a competitive gymnast and have always been athletic. But I really did not become an athlete again until I took up running OCR’s.
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
One of my biggest goals for this season is to finish within the top 100 of Spartan elites. While I will be doing many races, my focus is on Spartan races. I plan to make it to as many as I can this year. I also am working my way into other events when I am not running OCR’s such as the Catamount Games and The Summer Death Race. I want to expose myself to diverse events to become a more, well-rounded athlete.
Who is/are your inspiration?
I would not say there is a specific person who inspires me rather I gain inspiration from many different people. There may be a part of one person that I admire and something I admire from another.
What is your most proud moment in sport?
My proudest moment in sport so far has been making the podium for the GA Spartan Sprint this past March. I never thought I would see myself there and may never again but I will always hold on to that moment.
What is your most proud moment in life?
There is not one specific moment in life that I am most proud of rather a general proudness. I can say that I am proud of being a strong female that can stand alone and own my own destination. I know that to get what I want; it will probably take a lot of hard work and dedication. Whether in my personal life or my athletic life, I put everything I have into it to gain results that only I can achieve.
How do you overcome a bad race or training day?
Not every training day/race will be your best. I try to look at the bigger picture and not just a single day. There are so many elements which affect your performance whether training or racing and sometimes cannot be controlled. I reflect on what I may or may have not have done correctly and make sure to not make the same mistake twice.
What is your training routine like?
I am typically up at 5 and at the gym by 6 for crossfit. A few days a week, I will coach the 5 am class and then work out afterwards. When it is not race season, I will be out running trails on the weekend to maintain a good balance of training. When race season is on though, many times my running/training will consist of the races I am completing. I try to mix up training as often as possible to ensure I do not plateau. While crossfit is my primary training, I will also catch a kickboxing class when I can, join friends climbing Stone Mountain with a ruck, run stadium stairs at the local high school or head to a friends gym for some OCR specific training.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your sport?
Set small goals and surround yourself with great people with a positive attitude and influence.
What is your favorite pre-race and post-race food?
My favorite pre-race food consists of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a protein shake. I find this is a combination which works well for my body. Post-race I typically let myself eat whatever my body is craving. I figure I have earned the right to splurge a little bit. Lately, this has meant having a huge cheeseburger but instead of the fries with it, I take a salad as my side.
When not training and competing what do you do with your down time?
In peak race season, I don’t get a lot of down time between work, racing and training. When I get a Saturday night at home to relax, I consider doing nothing a luxury.
What is your favorite quote to motivate you?
Life is an adventure… leave no stone unturned and end it with no regrets.
What is the best advice a coach ever gave you?
That if I don’t try, how will I ever know?
Be humble in what you do. Everyone, no matter how good you are can be beat at any given moment. Don’t go into a race thinking you will win, rather focus on doing the best you can and the results will be what you make them.
Race smart and don’t let a quick decision be a bad one. It is so easy to get caught up in the moment and make a decision which could get you or someone else hurt. Many times, I have made a decision which may not be the best for my overall results but was the best for me in the moment. Maybe I decided an obstacle wasn’t safe or that the terrain was one where I needed to slow down my pace. In OCR’s, so many people get hurt and it is easy to do.
Listen to your body. Most of us want to train hard and be our best. We read articles, ask questions and learn from others. Take this advice and use it but also know what is right for you because there is not a “one shoe fits all sizes” sort of method to OCR’s.