Next to the term “well rounded athlete” in the dictionary you could have a picture of Ekaterina (Solo) Solovieva. Not only is this 29 year old Canadian woman an amazing athlete but she also holds her Masters in Social and Personality Psychology. She is truly a jack of all trades as she fills her plate with being a Health Coach, Psychology Professor, Yoga Teacher, Blogger, and Writer. This Salomon Toronto athlete is better known to the obstacle racing world as simply, SOLO. Solo Sat down with us and answered a few questions about sport and life.
How did you get involved in your sport?
I found the website for Warrior Dash by accident. It looked both awesome and insane at the same time. There were no obstacle races in Canada at the time, so I drove down to Chicago with my dad and brother, and the three of us ran our first obstacle race. That was in 2009.
Were you always an athlete?
I am definitely a late bloomer when it comes to sports. I’ve always been a tall and strong kid, but I have hardly played any sports. I lifted weights sporadically throughout high school, but it was not until graduate school when I started training regularly. Obstacle racing is the closest thing I’ve ever had to a sport I can call my own.
What are some of your athletic achievements?
Toronto Athletic Games 2013 – Women’s Advanced Champion
Toronto Tough Mudder 2013 – 1st female across the finish line
Toronto Spartan Sprint 2012 – 2nd female
Ottawa Spartan Beast 2012 – 3rd female
Montreal Spartan Super 2012 – 3rd female
Vermont Ultra Beast – 9th female
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
I am one of the unofficial finishers of the Death Race 2013 – this was a biggie. I didn’t get a skull this year, but I did not quit, and was still standing at the finish, 58 hours later. My next big events are the Ultra Beast in the fall – I would like to improve my standing from last year, as well as running my first road marathon in October.
Who is/are your inspiration?
I think you can find inspiration in every individual you meet. My little brother accomplishes anything he sets his mind to – right now he is travelling in Yukon and Alaska. My former professor and now friend always sees the big picture, and helps me do the same. My best friend is the kindest person I’ve ever met. My students overcome unthinkable adversity and still show up to class eager to learn. Sources of inspiration are endless. You just have to look.
What is your most proud moment in sport?
My very first endurance event lasted 8 hours. At that point my biggest athletic accomplishment was running a road 5k. There were three of us, in pain, and suffering. Being the captain of the team, it took every last drop of my patience, kindness, strength and determination to keep pushing, and keep motivating my teammates. I’ve never cried as I’ve cried at that finish line, when it was announced that my team took first place. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done at that point. Two years later I brought another team to the event to defend the title, and once again we made it to the top.
What is your most proud moment in life?
My most proud moments are when I’m watching someone I coached or taught succeed at something – like reading a thank you note from a former student and now friend, who became active after taking my course, and lost over 60 pounds.
How do you overcome a bad race or training day?
I don’t. I just accept the fact that it’s a bad training day. Not all workouts or training sessions are going to result in a PR or an awesome feeling after. Some workouts suck. And not in a good way. You drag your feet. You hate how your butt looks in the mirror that day. That’s the reality of life. Overcoming a bad race is harder. I try to remind myself that there will always be another race. I also always look back and reflect on what I learned – whether it was a good race or a bad race. Any lesson learned, no matter how small is incredibly valuable. It makes you a better athlete.
What is your training routine like?
My typical week includes strength training, interval work, a long run, and yoga. Right now, I am also swimming twice a week, getting ready for my first Olympic triathlon.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your sport?
Do not just show up to the start line. Pick an event that sounds exciting and challenging, sign up, then train! The sense of accomplishment at the finish line is that much greater, when you know you gave it your all.
What is your favorite pre-race and post-race food?
Pre-race food is Greek yogurt with banana or berries, walnuts, raw cacao nibs and honey. And coffee. Always, coffee. Post-race is much more random – I love me a medium-rare steak with a pile of kale and other greens. And a pint of amber ale. I also won’t turn down homemade pizza with anchovies.
When not training and competing what do you do with your down time?
I love trying new things – braiding and baking challah bread, pole dancing, I love used bookstores, coffeeshops, and writing. There is a small place in my town which combines all three. They also make the best morning glory muffins. It’s heaven.
What is your favorite quote to motivate you?
Right now I really like two quotes. The first is by Eleanor Roosevelt: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
And the author of second is unknown, although it is frequently (and mistakenly) attributed to Mahatma Ghandi. “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”
What is the best advice a coach ever gave you?
Live your truth. Catch the moments in life when you are truly happy, when you smile or laugh for no reason. Notice what you are doing during those moments. Do more of those things.
If you could share some advice to the next generation of athletes, what would it be?
Find a physical activity you can love. For its own sake. At the end of the day, fitness for the sake of fitness is overrated. Train so you can run to catch your plane, lift up your kids, and play with your dog. Being fit allows you to do amazing things. Often, on a whim. Now, that’s awesome.
Follow SOLO on her blog: www.solovieva.com