The RAID Blog is our favorite spot to give you insight into training, fitness and lifestyle but by far the thing we most look forward to is highlighting some of the extraordinary athletes that you will see on the start line. Recently we checked in with 18 time marathoner and all around rock star Cara Bednar to get her thoughts on all things obstacle racing, fitness and training!
RAID: Tell us about Beantown Bootcamp, what is your inspiration and how did you get here?
Cara: I have always been an athlete from tennis to skiing to running. Beantown Bootcamp really pushes me mentally, physically and emotionally to be the best athlete I can be. You have the one on one attention of a personal trainer in a group setting to help motivate and push you. After college I was looking for more than just a typical gym to log some treadmill miles at. When I found Beantown Bootcamp I was immediately hooked. Everyday at Beantown Bootcamp is a different challenge than the day before which is amazing not only for the work outs but mentally you never know what to expect. No two work outs are the same! Everyday I am inspired by the other members in the class to push my physical limits. If someone ahead of me is running 8 hills, and I have only done 6, they motivate me to push through and run those 2 extra hills.
RAID: What sets outdoor fitness apart from traditional gym training?
Cara: In a traditional gym you always get into a routine. Be it a class, the elliptical, lifting, or spinning. You know what effort you are willing to put in, or what the teacher is expecting. At the gym you do the requirements, but never push yourself. Beantown Bootcamp is more like a team. You know people are waiting for you at 6:30 am, so you show up, you push yourself, and you leave exhausted but accomplished. You don’t know what you are going to get thrown at you, so your body never adapts to a work out. The work out’s vary daily, so you are always working different muscles and seeing full body results. We get to explore the city rain or shine! I am a motivated athlete, but there are days where I wouldn’t go outside and run 20 Beacon Hill Hills, run the stairs in the North End, box jump a bench in the Boston Commons, Burpee my way around the Court House, or wind sprint a football field, but when your outside motivated by others, you enjoy those tough and challenging workouts!
RAID: Are your classes designed for everyone? Beginners through advanced athletes?
Cara: The classes are run on a time/ clock cycle which allows for different levels to participate together. If we head to the hills the veteran members may tackle 10 hills and a beginner may accomplish 4 or 5. Everyone is continually motivated by the group to push yourself to your maximum capability. Often drills are thrown into the mix with the cardio as an equalizer. Some members are fantastic runners, but struggle with the strength training, the classes are designed to improve you as an athlete overall.
RAID: As we know, to train for an obstacle race requires more preparation that just running. What do you think is the optimal training method for OCR?
Cara: Training for obstacle racing is like training for life you need to be ready for anything and everything! You need the cardiovascular benefits, but also balance, strength, endurance, and guts! The optimal training for obstacle races would be to use your surroundings! At the playground with your kids? Start swinging on those monkey bars! Doing yard work? Carry those bags of mulch for some wind sprints. See a large wall? Go climb it!
RAID: When you are outside running stairs in sub-zero New England temperatures do you ever miss the treadmill with the TV? Be honest! Cara: I actually don’t hate the treadmill! I think the treadmill is useful on those sub-zero New England days. On days when you want to focus on speed, or hills, I think the treadmill can be a great resource. But I think there is nothing like training outside! The elements push you and make you stronger. If you never train in snow, heat, rain, then race day comes you will be thrown by the conditions. But if you prepare in the elements you are ready for anything! I remind myself when it’s snowing or raining outside that those could be the conditions on race day, so get out of bed and get that work out in.
RAID: Any pre-race traditions? Special meals?
Cara: Cheese Quesadilla’s! They are easy to digest, fill me up, and don’t upset my stomach. As for day of pre race traditions, I always eat a bowl of Chex, half a banana and a White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Luna Bar. My fuel during races is gummy bears! They work with my stomach, give me a good jolt of sugars, and are little rewards when I am mentally struggling!
RAID: What would you tell someone who is thinking of trying obstacle racing for the first time?
Cara: Do it! I think the term obstacle race scares so many people, but it’s good to be scared! You will be surprised at how many obstacle’s you are good at. Obstacle races are like recess or open gym you get to have fun! Enjoy feeling like a kid again. Athletes by nature want to help one another, so if you are nervous or worried about your first race sign up with a friend. If you want to do it solo but are worried no one will help you out, you’ll be surprised . Obstacle races encourage working together and sportsmanship.
RAID: Are you ready to conquer the course at Urban RAID Boston?
Cara: I did the Urban Raid Boston last year and loved every second of it! When else can you hurdle your way through Government Center, or climb a cargo net overlooking Boston harbor? This race truly happens in downtown Boston and you get to race, challenge and experience all of this in the heart of the city. It is also a great day for families to come out and enjoy! The support and activities happening in Faneuil Hall Marketplace make it an awesome day for spectators, athletes and families. I am really excited to experience this years race and hope everyone will join me in Boston this July!
See you on July 12th in Boston, Cara!