Dirt in Your Skirt Athlete Profile – Ella Anne Kocuiba
It’s often hard to believe that Reebok Spartan Race ProTeam athlete Ella Anne Kocuiba is only 20 years old when you meet her. She burst onto the Spartan Race scene in 2012 and also was one of the youngest to ever attempt the Spartan Death Race in 2012 as well. She is not only known as a Spartan Race athlete but is also one of the top athletes for Flag Nor Fail clothing company. Ella took some time out of her training schedule to answer a few questions about herself, her motivation, and her goals for the upcoming year. This college student, athlete and trainer is a remarkable young woman!
How did you get involved in your sport?
Just was running some 5k’s, half marathon, etc and was getting bored of it. I stumbled across and ad for a Tough Mudder, ran it and fell in love, then shortly after it, I did my first Spartan Race and won it. Been competing since then.
Were you always an athlete?
Well yes and no. I was put on a horse as a baby and have been riding horses since then. I played community sports like soccer, basketball, volleyball, cross country, and track until I had a terrible horse riding accident when I was twelve years young. My horse was spooked and I was thrown off, the initial fall broke the L4 and L5. However, I went another year until I had the surgery, where they discovered that my spine was never connected to my sacrum since birth and I had spondylothesis.
What are some of your athletic achievements?
Received ‘Best Condition’ in a twenty five mile horse race, competed figure in a bodybuilding show, I have hit podium in every single race I have done besides two, I won two 5k’s that were back to back on the same weekend, I have competed in the Death Race in 2012, I have done three fifty mile horse races, I have done about ten or so twenty five mile horse races (can’t remember them all), I hold the 4x100meter relay record at my high school, excelled to regionals in cross country and track in high school.
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
Compete in Survival Run, do a mountain bike race for fun, do a 100 mile horse race, compete in a Ride & Tie, travel the world competing, World’s Toughest Mudder? (perhaps), maybe do another show for fun, most importantly I want to be healthy and happy and I want to help inspire others to be the best they can be.
Who is/are your inspiration?
Honestly never really had someone that I went goggly eyed for, I admired other athletes but I found something deep inside me after I graduated high school that fueled me. I believe it was the years spent in pain and watching others be active make me driven,
￼￼but I find my struggle to be my strength. I also have always looked up to both of my brothers, they are the definition of hard work and success.
What is your most proud moment in sport?
When I got third in the Vermont Beast. I wasn’t doing my best in the beginning of the race, the mountain was destroying my back. I was actually in about ninth place at mile three but didn’t give up and kept on pushing up that mountain and ate up ground. I had little baby tears when I finished that day.
What is your most proud moment in life?
This is a very hard question for me, I could easily go with the glory of winning in some of my races or about overcoming my surgery, the years of physical therapy and pain. But I will have to admit, that when I saw my mother (who is 54) do her first Spartan Race, the courage she displayed was down right respectable and I couldn’t stop grinning afterwards, she made me so proud.
How do you overcome a bad race or training day?
I do my best to not beat myself up over it, but I will not lie, I am extremely hard on myself but I’ve got to realize that what I fail at today does not make me a failure. I just rest it off and try again tomorrow. Your mind is your strongest weapon or your biggest obstacle, you choose. I usually go distract my mind, go for a hike, walk the dog, ride the horse, doodle, or just call up a friend.
What is your training routine like?
Training is twice a day Monday through Friday. Mornings I do my cardio, which is mainly high intensity sprints, hill work, weighted vest runs, sleds, and intervals. Then in the evenings I do my strength training. Strength training is more about the endurance in the muscle and stabilization. Weekends are pretty relaxed (kind of), I still train though, but I take it a little bit easier and just train once a day. I do have one day completely off a week, just depends on how my body is.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your sport?
Don’t fear the unknown, embrace it. Find your limits, trust me they exist, but instead of backing off from them, play around on it’s boarder. Learn how to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. If you want something you’ve never had you gotta do something you’ve never done. Get out there, life is now. Learn to make sacrifices, discover your self-discipline and work your hardest always.
What is your favorite pre-race and post-race food?
Almond butter mixed with honey and fresh berries as my pre. Post race? Well, that’s always a feast and it definitely would have to be a huge cheeseburger, a jar of almond butter, sweet potato fries, and an omelette or wait perhaps some spaghetti and meatballs, or chicken stir-fry, shepard’s pie, screw it, I’ll have it all.. Just kidding, but no really.
When not training and competing what do you do with your down time?
Ride my horse (I also compete in Endurance riding on my horse, 25 and 50 mile races), hang out with friends, watch movies (gory and funny are the best), go fishing, sketch wicked things, hike, shoot guns, I just like to be outside.
What is your favorite quote to motivate you?
If you cannot sacrifice for your dream, then it is not your dream.
What is the best advice a coach ever gave you?
“Ella listen to your back.. Don’t be stupid.” Haha. Best advice ever though, is to listen to your body, know the difference between the pain of damaging and aches of working.
If you could share some advice to the next generation of athletes, what would it be?
The only competition is the one in the mirror, if you out beat the demons in your head, work hard and work for yourself, you will go far. Don’t waste your time trying to please people, do what makes you happy. You are not an athlete, you are a warrior. An athlete trains for somebody, a warrior trains for him/herself. Do it for you.
Follow Ella on her Facebook Page – Ella Anne Kocuiba