Interview with OCR pro-racer K.K. Stewart-Paul

April 22, 2015 1 Comment

K.K. Stewart-Paul shows how she can keep up with training - anywhere.

Jumping on an airplane, traveling for days or weeks on end and relying on pushups, sit-ups and squats for fitness is nothing new.  Traveling to your destination and hoping to find a gym with the right equipment can be an alternative but not very reliable.

Top that off with hoping it is equipped with your training tools of choice and the odds get slimmer.  So what if you could travel with your weight training tools?  

What if you could pack several in a hand-bag and fill them with either sand or water, yielding hundreds of pounds of functional training weight?  

Shop for PKB Kits: ideal when just one PKB won't do, come with a portable scale and a variety of options.

We decided to hang out with pro Obstacle Course (OC) racer K. K. Stewart-Paul and find out exactly how she does it, where and why.

Merely in her second year as a competitive athlete in Obstacle Course Racing (OCR), K.K. has dominated the sport and remains one of the top ranked U.S. female elite series racers in 2015.  She finished fourth overall in the Spartan Race series for 2014 and has her eyes set on the lucrative Warrior Dash World Championships for 2015.

We met at the very popular Manitou Incline near Colorado Springs.  Otherwise known as simply "the Incline," it gains over 2,000 feet in elevation in under a mile.  The base of the trail starts at 6,500 feet and ends at 8,590.  It’s so steep, at points it nears a 70% grade.

K.K. came equipped with two Large PKBs filled with 25 pounds of sand each and a Brute Force Athlete bag filled with 45 pounds of sand.  She also wore a weight vest - yeah - with 25 pounds of sand.

We traded off the PKBs and Athlete bag on the way up, making the climb in under 50 minutes.  A pretty good time considering the extra weight and that most people take an hour or more to complete.

Once at the top, we added a few extra pounds to the Portable Kettlebells and went for a run in the snow, then dumped the weight from the PKBs, folded them up and raced down the mountain.  K.K. kept the Athlete bag on her back.  I beat her… ;)

PKB: How did you get started in obstacle course racing?  I was tired of feeling unhealthy and unmotivated so I decided to just get out and start running.  I ran around the block of my Phoenix neighborhood and took 10 minutes to run a mile.

My first OCR was the Spartan Sprint in Arizona in 2013.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into, much less what an Obstacle Course Race was.

PKB: Have you played any other sports competitively in the past?  Nope. I was a barrel racer and horse jockey when I was 12. Other than that, I was mostly a book worm.

PKB: How long is your OCR season, what months of the year do you compete?  OCR goes year round without any real off season.  January to March is the beginning and April to October is when it really gets heavy and competitive.

PKB: At what point in the season is it the hardest for you to keep up with training?  Do you feel burn out?  If yes, how do you maintain?  At the end of the summer and early fall is when it starts to put a toll on my body. This is when I like to pull out all the tricks to help with recovery, like ice baths, epsom salt baths, sports massage and lots of rest. Training can also get more intense because the field of athletes competing for the top spots become fewer and fewer.

I do have rare moments when I don't feel like training and manage to persevere, inspired and motivated by others with more challenging conditions than mine.  I feel so fortunate and grateful that I am able to do what I do and try to never take it for granted.

PKB: What does your average meal look like, what do you eat most of, what do you avoid?  I try to keep a clean diet and follow a strict paleo approach to eating.  I stick to organically sourced, whole foods that are farm to table and avoid sweeteners, processed foods, simple carbs and starchy foods.

PKB: I’m guessing you weren’t always like that, when did you start to make the transition to cleaner foods and what has helped you maintain it?  I used to be the worst when it came to eating.  I figured since I was starting to be more active, it didn’t matter what I ate as long as I consumed the necessary calories.  

I was wrong.  Most of what I was eating wasn’t being used properly by my body.  My boyfriend has really helped me develop a program and basic understanding of what is ‘cleaner’ eating.

PKB: Do you ever cheat on your diet?  I actually really don't.  I've become so accustomed to eating the way I do that I rarely have cravings for anything outside of my diet.  It was hard during the first 3-4 months, but since then I’ve been happy eating the way I do.

PKB: What are your goals in OCR for this year?  I want to help introduce the sport to others who are looking for an outlet to get fit while having fun doing it.  I am also going give it my all to podium at every race and reach my goal of becoming an established professional athlete in OCR. 


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