Dirt in Your Skirt Profile Series – Cynthia Johnson
This week we feature Cynthia Johnson. She has been involved in the OCR world since 2011 and when not chasing the mud on weekends she is an environmental protection specialist in Washington, DC and holds a graduate degree from American University. This 27-year old taking on as many races and challenges as she can while supported by sponsors Runkeeper and mudandadventure.com. Learn a little more about Cynthia and what her goals are for the upcoming year.
How did you get involved in your sport?
Accidentally. I attended a Warrior Dash with a group of friends in May 2011, and I was hooked.
Were you always an athlete?
I was never an athlete. I did the normal kids things of biking, swimming and running around outside every day, but I never trained and was never part of an organized sport growing up or in college. Well, I was a cheerleader in high school, and I count that!
What are some of your athletic achievements?
I have raced 30+ obstacle course races to date. I have placed 1st elite female in one, and I have placed 2nd in a few, and quite a few other top 10 finishes for elite women.
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
My main goal this year is to accomplish Spartan Race’s Ultrabeast on Killington Mountain in Vermont in September. Then in November finish Tough Mudder’s World’s Toughest Mudder 2014 again.
Who is/are your inspiration?
I’m inspired by a lot of things. Those who put their best foot forward every day, train like animals and excel in our sport. I’m inspired by those who are just beginning their fitness journey. I’m inspired by those who never let failure stop them. Internally, I inspire myself by continuing to get up every day and having 12+ hour days between commuting to work, working, working out after work, commuting home—all with a smile on my face because I know that next race is coming soon, and I have to be more prepared each race weekend than I was the previous weekend. It is exhausting, but I love getting up at 5am on race mornings and putting my best foot forward on the course just to see if I can out do my last performance. And for anyone that knows me knows I am absolutely NOT a morning person—I excitedly get up on race mornings.
What is your most proud moment in sport?
My proudest moment would be finishing World’s Toughest Mudder 2013 after 24+ hours of being wake and on the course—and funny enough, I cannot wait to conquer 2014’s course. I let a little bit of myself on that course last year, and I’m definitely heading back this year to reclaim what’s mine.
What is your most proud moment in life?
In general, my proudest moment in life was walking across the stage to get my graduate degree in 2011 from one of the top schools in my field. I overcame a lot of obstacles along my way between childhood and finally finishing school.
How do you overcome a bad race or training day?
I tend to beat myself up a little after a bad race day. I admit I am really hard on myself. Everyone else thinks it is awesome to just finish a course, but I go out there every time to challenge myself and be better than I was before. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, it is always rewarding to know you finished a challenging course, and being part of that unique group of people who did that course is (sappy alert) very special to me.
What is your training routine like?
I change up my training schedule every 2-3 months. Right now I’m on a cut program that focuses on HIIT and speed work. Before now, my normal routine was simply cardio like running or biking and a hard lifting session. I was beginning to get frustrated with my results. I can run fine, and I can move a lot of weight, but I wasn’t cutting the fat like I wanted. This new routine is working beautifully.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your sport?
In order to find out what the sport is about you really just have to experience. Experiencing the atmosphere, the excitement, the course and the obstacles first-hand are the best teaching tools. Also, running is NOT enough to excel at OCR.
What is your favorite pre-race and post-race food?
I eat peanut butter toast before every race. Perfect mixture of carbs, sugar and a little excitement because I absolutely LOVE peanut butter.
When not training and competing what do you do with your down time?
When I’m not at the gym or I’m not a race, I spend as much time as I can relaxing with my boyfriend, Ryan, who also does OCR. We tend to be on the same schedule with training and competitions, so when we aren’t doing either, it is nice to just relax and spend time together.
If you could share some advice to the next generation of athletes, what would it be?
Gain your athletic ability in your youth then maintain it. It is far easier to have athleticism growing up and maintain it throughout adulthood than starting from scratch as an adult. I often run beside teenagers on the course, and they seem to be putting in about ½ the effort just because they have been training throughout childhood.
What is/are the races you are most looking forward to this year?
I am looking most forward to World’s Toughest Mudder 2014 because I did the race last year, so I know what to expect. I am most scared of Spartan Race’s Ultrabeast—I might die on that mountain.
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