Red Rush: I saw in an interview that the very first obstacle course race—the Rugged Maniac–that you ran was with your wife and your three sons. What was it like running the race with your family?
James Olmos: My family and I shared some amazing moments during the Rugged Maniac mud run. These mud runs combine modern-day amusement park excitement with physically enduring obstacles. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into since it was our first mud run. We all wore cotton clothes, the wrong type of shoes and we were unprepared for the types of obstacles on the course. But we had a blast! We encouraged each other, pushed each other over 8 foot wooden walls and screamed as we slide down steep mud slides; all while taking selfies!
RR: Do your sons and wife often accompany you on races?
JO: My youngest son and my wife ran their first Spartan Sprint with me this year in 2015; and they did amazing! I’m so proud of them as they endured a 4 mile course with over 20 obstacles. They finished in just over 2 hours. My two older sons either live away from home or had previous commitments. My wife signed up for a second Spartan Sprint and we’ll both race this September, right around her birthday.
RR: In the last few years, you’ve went from a Spartan Race newbie to someone who has earned a trifecta. What sort of training and nutrition regimen have you undertaken to get in shape for these things?
JO: Mud runs have taken my exercising routines to a whole new level in the past 16 months. As mentioned, I’ve always enjoyed working out but I’ve never challenged myself as much since engaging in mud runs. From the Spartan Race, Tough Mudder, World Famous Mud Run, Pendleton and Rugged Maniac – these races have encouraged me to be a stronger, more defined and determined human and a healthier father.
Training and diet are two important aspects of any race preparation. I typically perform 3 types of training during the week: weight resistance, running and lots of plyometric exercises.
I schedule and calendar all my training. It’s a must since I travel for business over 60% of the year. I have to calendar each run, including distance; calendar each specific weight training routine; and I typically get all my plyometric exercising through my UFC Gym classes. But I recently purchased a TRX type system that I’ll be incorporating into my training regime.
Cross training is critical for the more aggressive mud runs. You’ll be challenged if you just stick with one type of exercise over another exercise.
As far as nutrition, I’ve always enjoyed healthful foods. I have not consumed pork or beef in over 20 years but I do enjoy fowl and fish. Each morning, just upon waking up, I drink a full glass of filtered water with two teaspoons of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar and RediBeets. Then I make a shake that includes: ProPeas protein, CoCoa LeafGreens, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, cinnamon, peanut butter, a choice of fruit, and almond milk.
Then I’ll eat healthful food choices throughout the day for snacks, lunch and dinner.
I’ve recently been blogging about my workouts, diet and race events. You’re welcome to following my blog at www.theindieartist.com
Participating in and training for these mud runs has led me to running my first half marathon in 2015. I finished in under 2 hours. Now, I’m considering running a full marathon and possibly a 50K in 2016. So stay tuned to see what this 47-year-old, father of 3 can turn-out!
RR: How important is the actual nut-and-bolts running portion of the Spartan Race?
JO: With regards to the running portion of the Spartan Races or any mud run for that matter, that would depend on what your personal goal is for when you cross the finish line. If you want to cross with a PR then you’re going to need to step-up your running abilities and learn to push through each obstacle; dominate the obstacle then hit-the-ground running again. You’ll have seconds to recover, cardiovascularly, after negotiating an obstacle and running through the next obstacle; then repeat 20 to 30 more times. This is where Red Rush comes in to play.
If your goal is to aggressively enjoy your time on the muddy course with friends and family and maybe discover your physical limits, then running may not be as important. And actually, you may want to train more on upper body and core strength. Though, I would recommend the balance of cardio with strength training; in addition to consuming nutrient dense foods.
If you’re challenged with the proper training accessories or challenged with time, do burpees. Perform burpees each day and do a lot of them. If you don’t know what a burpee is then research this simple, grueling exercise.
RR: Not counting the spear throw, which obstacles do you absolutely hate?
JO: I absolutely hate the Bucket Brigade! During the Bucket Brigade you must fill a 5 gallon bucket with gravel. (Maybe it weighs over 50 pounds, full?) There is a marked line inside the bucket where the gravel must fill to or surpass. Once you fill your bucket you then carry it about a quarter-mile, up and down hills until you come full circle. You then dump the gravel back where you filled it. Upon return, if you failed to “significantly” fill the bucket to the line, then you simply top it off and carry it full circle AGAIN. If the gravel is slightly below the line upon return, then you’ve “failed” the obstacle and you simply perform 30 burpees.
RR: Which obstacles do you excel at now?
JO: Most of the obstacles are challenging and few are easy, but I certainly got better at climbing the 20 foot rope and negotiating and soloing the higher, 10 foot wood walls. You just need to learn the techniques of each obstacle; the tricks and techniques come with experience unless someone teaches you.
RR: What is your greatest or favorite athletic accomplishment to date?
The Spartan Beast in Temecula, CA is clearly my favorite athletic accomplishment for 2014. I endured 106 degree temperatures while running/climbing to elevations around 1800 feet as I raced this 13 mile course. There were over 30 obstacles and it was extremely dusty. The race event coordinator canceled the remainder of this race just after I completed the course. People were getting extremely dehydrated and ambulances were taking injured and exhausted racers to the hospital all throughout the day.
I love extremes. I’d race this course again under the same conditions.
I filmed my race using a Sony Action Cam and you can see the video here: https://youtu.be/ecgbROdE518?list=PLlUqAhEoK7R6J8xZW-e84iLrqKU-lVJ99
RR: How does Red Rush help you?
JO:Most athletes are in-tune with their bodies. They’re mentally, physically and spiritually aware of changes in their body. They’re aware of how slightly tweaking any aspect of their diet, movement or thought can positively or negatively affect their performance. I noticed the positive effects of Red Rush from day one.
The effects of using Red Rush during my workouts are specific. I’ve performed the same type of workouts while using Red Rush and without using Red Rush and I notice a physical and mental difference. I run a particular trail in Whiting Ranch, CA and it has a steep graded hill. My running apps show the grade as 30%. As I push through this hill I notice almost zero lactic acid build up in my legs. Additionally, I feel I have better lung capacity; I can take deeper breaths.
I noticed the benefits again this year while running the San Diego Half Marathon. I hit this hill at mile 10; the “hill” that everyone nervously spoke of before the race and during the race. Well, I powered up the hill, passing many runners as I made my way over the crest. And I felt great at the top!
I went on to bring my pace from a 9:30 minute mile to around an 8:30 minute mile for around the last two miles of the race. And I’m not a “competitive” runner; meaning, I don’t run half marathons or 5K’s. So it’s not like I have this special training or running experience to get me through it all. Though, I do train and compete in the Spartan Races but that’s an entirely different type of sporting event.
More on Obstacle Course Racing:
The Red Rush Mother-Daughter Obstacle Course Racing Team
Niko Toschi: Obstacle Course Racer
Jessica Vespertino: Destroy All Obstacles