Dirt in Your Skirt Profile Series – Laura Messner
Laura Messner is well known in the Spartan World. She is known for her signature move “striking a Messner” and competitor in the women’s elite field. She is probably one of the most recognized faces in the sport today and her smile is well known. This 24-year old New Hampshire native is just getting started! Her sponsors include Elite Performance Team, OCR Gear, Sport Nutrition 1, X Race Wear, and Team Luu OCR. She has big goals for this year and recently became a Spartan SGX coach, watch out world! She sat down and answered some of our questions.
How did you get involved in your sport?
I had always been a fitness nut, but never really adventured outside of the gym accept for day hikes, camping, etc. A fitness group I trained with in Rhode Island was planning on putting a team together to run at a Tough Mudder event. Unfortunately I had to move back to NH so I was unable to train with them, but I was still determined to find a similar event to run in. A couple weeks later I had a friend ask me if I would be interested in running a Spartan Race with him. Of course I was interested! I ran in the very last heat on a Sunday at the Amesbury, MA event in a down pour. After that experience, feeling that adrenaline, realizing how much I can learn about myself, believing in my strengths and overcoming my fears I immediately became hooked on OCR (Obstacle Course Racing).
Were you always an athlete?
Growing up I would have definitely called myself an athlete. Although I was never properly trained for running in Cross Country or Track and Field, I enjoyed playing softball, field hockey and tennis.
What are some of your athletic achievements?
I started experiencing athletic achievements when I started running OCR. Jumping right into the world of OCR I was not very aware of what was right and wrong for proper running, attire, training, recovery and because of this it took longer to achieve my goal of being on a Spartan Race Podium. A little under a year after racing, at the PA Spartan Race, I finally was able to experience that thrill of crossing the finish line with a podium finish. The feeling is truly unreal, fueling my desire to work harder to achieve more. I am very happy to say I now have 9 podiums in Spartan Race and only looking to better my performance!
What are your goals for the upcoming season?
My major goal for this season is to be in the top 10 females for the Spartan Race 2014 Standings. Last year I was 15th so this year I am trying to step up my game!
Who is/are your inspiration?
I honestly could not pin point just one person who inspires me. Within the Spartan community alone I have heard hundreds of extremely moving stories that inspire me everyday to never give up on myself and/or my dreams. Stories of weight loss, self discovery, reached goals, built confidences’ and stories of overcoming some of the darkest shadows. I feel blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful individuals doing amazing things to make a positive difference. I can only push everyday to try to be the same inspiration to others as these heroes are to me!
What is your most proud moment in sport?
My proudest moment in the sport of OCR was in August 2013 on my Spartan Race year anniversary. While running through the Amesbury MA course I knew I was nearing the end of the race, but I was still in second place. Since I had never earned a 2nd place podium I thought “this must be what the universe wanted for me today”. The spear throw was the second to last obstacle and looking forward I could see that the first place girl had missed her spear. At that point I found myself in a trance, reminding myself to not stress out about what lies ahead and whatever happens will happen. I took my time, concentrating on form and making sure I was staying focused. After a deep breath and a little prayer I NAILED the spear throw and that feeling I had going through my body at that moment entering first place was unreal. Running down the hill to the finish line, seeing all my friends smiling and cheering for me will forever be one of my proudest moments of OCR. — Cried like a baby!
What is your proudest moment in life?
My proudest moment in life would be every time I found the strength to overcome my fears. We all know how difficult it is to face the things that we fear or those things that make us uncomfortable. Its a slow build up of anxiety and doubt, which usually scares us, making us back down from the things we want to achieve.
Being able to develop the courage to adventure outside of our comfort zone even when we know there is a risk of failure is ALWAYS something to be proud of. As I get older I learn that the more risks I take and the more fears I face the more powerful I feel and that is how success is reached.
How do you overcome a bad race or training day?
I used to get really down on myself when I would have a bad race day or training day, until I realized that this kind of attitude did NOTHING for me. I would use the bad day as an excuse to not train as hard or to isolate myself from others out of embarrassment of not being “good enough”.
Our minds are so quick to jump to the negative because its what a lot of us grew up around, but Ive learned that the way we react to things is all up to us. We could sit and pout about a bad day or we could turn the negative thinking into something positive and enjoy the day for what it is. For example, during the Fenway Spartan Race in 2013 I had a horrible run. I was sick the week before and thought I would feel good enough to run that weekend, but boy was I wrong. Typically I would have moped and been upset about it, but I have made it to a point in my life where I finally realized the power inside positive thinking. I went out to run another lap that day with the Ricciardi family and friends to support Adrianna Ricciardi in her first race. Then I went out again with Team RWB for a third lap around the stadium. By the end of the day Fenway Spartan Race became one of my favorite memories in OCR. So because I didn’t allow myself to focus on how horrible I performed that morning I was able to turn it around, making it one of my favorite races to date.
What is your training routine like?
For me, training days are never the same. I like to make each training session a little different, consistently mixing things up. One day I may go for a flat trail run while other days I might try hill running, yoga, circuit training, cross fit, kickboxing, etc. The more you can switch up your workout routines the easier it is for your body to adapt to different obstacles that get thrown at it.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in your sport?
For someone just starting out in Obstacle Course Racing I would recommend talking to someone who has been involved in the sport for a while. Ask questions remembering that no question is a bad or stupid one. When I first started racing I wish I had the courage to ask the athletes what proper training, recovery, eating, attire, etc. was. Instead of asking I took a wild guess and I ended up with aching knees, sore ankles, tendentious in the wrists/elbows and at times couldn’t even walk without pain shooting through my joints. The most important thing above all is to go out there and have fun, learn something new about yourself, experience the environment and the amazing camaraderie this sport carries, for that is what keeps you coming back time and time again for more. So play hard, but play smart– Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions. 🙂
What is your favorite pre-race and post-race food?
My favorite Pre-Race food right now is a Plain Chobani yogurt with a Nature Valley honey oat bar. I am not a nutritionist and everyone is different, but I find this combination gives me energy and strength to get me through a race with little to no fatigue.
As far as a Post-Race food I typically am not too hungry after running, but I make sure to have a recovery protein shake ready for after I cross the finish line. This will help my muscles to recover faster after a brutal pounding on the course. 🙂
When not training and competing what do you do with your down time?
On my down time I still enjoy getting outdoors. I enjoy the usual hiking, biking, camping, etc. but I also love karaoke nights, Writing (I am looking into writing my own book), Singing and finding fun and interesting ways to learn and experience new things.
I always say “life is short” so live it to its fullest, push yourself and learn to realize just how much you ARE capable of.
What is your favorite quote to motivate you?
“Sometimes its better to forget what you feel and remember what you deserve.” – Anonymous
What is the best advice a coach ever gave you?
The best advice a coach ever gave me would have to be to stretch out my hips before and after a workout/race. Dr. Jan Kasprowicz, of Elite Performance Team helped me realize that my tight hips were what was causing my knee pain all along. I wish I found this out a little sooner, but its better now then never. I am VERY thankful for Dr. K’s observation and recommendation.
If you could share some advice to the next generation of athletes, what would it be?
Some advice that I would share with the next generation of athletes is to take care of your body, know the difference between a good pain and a bad pain and try not to overtrain. Be sure to give yourself time to recover in-between hard workouts.