corinne sandbagCorinne Kohlen is a Spartan Pro team member and one of the 3 members of Barb wire 4 breakfast.  She finished 7th in her sex and 26th overall in the 2012 Spartan Race points.  In the 2013 Spartan Race points rankings she is top 10 for her age category and top 20 for her sex category.    

She resides in California with her dogs Violet (bloodhound), Blossom (Foxhound) and Robert (Foxhound mix).

  1. Your racing resume is quite vast. For the past 2 years you have been racing in World Tough Mudder, Fuego y Agua, multiple Spartan Race Trifectas (3 in 2012, 3 so far in 2013) and others. How do you balance your training? Do you adjust it throughout the year to meet the races ahead or stick with a regular schedule?

My training schedule has really varied. For the first year of my racing career I worked with a running coach to build me up to be ready for Worlds Toughest mudder and my first ultra marathons. Prior to that I hadn’t run for years so I was really starting from scratch. She really helped me build up my milage safely and keep me on track. I couldn’t really afford training last year and felt that I had a good milage base to continue running the events I wanted to. When I’m not injured I usually do two small runs per week usually 4-6 miles and one longer run, anything from 8-30 miles. I always carry a camelback when I run and try to carry at least 10lbs weight. I spend the rest of the week playing on the monkey bars, in the climbing gym, at the yoga studio, and hiking. I usually taper for almost a week before a super long race and will rest for at least 1-2 weeks after a long race.

  1. Each day you can read another story on how the obstacle racing community has changed someone’s life for the better. What was your goal when coming to this racing community and has it changed your way of life?

My first obstacle race was a Tough Mudder. I had no goals or aspirations coming into this race except to survive it. After the race I decided to take a chance and see if I could qualify for the World’s Toughest Mudder. I registered and for the rest of the year my goal was to win World’s Toughest Mudder. I didn’t win, but met some of the most amazing people along my journey that forever changed my life. One of my first obstacle racing friends was the infamous Ray Upshaw whose craziness inspired me to push my limits. In the medic tent of Worlds Toughest Mudder I met Margaret Schlachter who then was my idol, and we shivered, cried, and got pulled from the race together in the freezing night. Roxanne “Mamma” Meeker came to my rescue in the med tent and her kindness and story of her transformation inspired me and touched my heart. Since starting obstacle racing in 2011 I have met some corinne traverse wallof the most genuine, kind, amazing, brave, crazy, generous, inspiring people and I am happy to call them my friends. In truth, they are more than friends. They have become my family. For me this was priceless. I have a very tiny biological family and from my Spartan family I have drawn strength. I would consider myself a very introverted person but Obstacle Racing and Spartan racing has given me a chance to open up, gain confidence in myself, and hopefully inspire others. I realize now that the goal is not winning, the goal is challenging yourself every day, opening your heart, helping others, and living your life to the fullest. Winning is just icing on the cake.

On another note my very first obstacle race was actually at my bachelorette party. As I saw the positive changes both physically and mentally that obstacle racing was bringing to my life I also saw the negative influence of my relationship. Obstacle racing and my friends that I have met through racing gave me strength to leave a very abusive relationship that I was trapped in.

  1. You are a contributor to the Spartan Race Blog. You have written some great articles that I have personally enjoyed reading. One of the articles I’d like to ask you about is the article you wrote on “AMA: Obesity is a disease”. It drew a few comments, but from your own expert option what are your thoughts on the BMI ratio?

Scientifically BMI as a measurement of obesity has some clear limitations, mostly for very muscular or athletic builds. However, the majority of the population are not super athletes and do not have the amount of muscle mass that would cause a BMI to be significantly skewed. Even many of the Elite obstacle racers do not have the amount of muscle mass which would calculate their BMI’s as being overly high. Personally BMI is not great but it is what we have and it is simple and it is a starting point. If BMI can help raise awareness of obesity for people I fully support it. If it will stimulate more doctor’s office conversations about healthy weights and people setting goals to move into a healthy weight category on the BMI charts I think this would greatly benefit our population. While I do not feel that obesity is a disease, I do support the classification in hopes that it will provide more opportunities for awareness and intervention. 

  1. OCR doesn’t require much equipment. What are you go to gear items that you make sure you have for each race (3+, 8+, 12+, 100K)? How do you keep yourself hydrated?

I always check the weather before a race and the weather definitely dictates the gear I bring. I always bring a full change of clothes, Neosporin, waterproof Band-Aids, athletic tape, moleskin, water bottle, towel if I can, large plastic bags, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, clean socks and shoes/sandals, ibuprofen, anti nausea/anti diarrhea medication, daytime cold medicine. You could say I’m a walking pharmacy but you never know where you will be when you get sick and in some of the more remote locations and longer races you would rather be safe than sorry. For anything I anticipate taking me over two hours I bring a hydration pack – usually with a dissolved salt tab in it. For the longer races I go with a 3L pack, shorter races 1.5L pack half full. I do a similar thing with food – snacks for races two hours or longer and more snacks for longer races. Some of my favorites are lifelift bars (VPX), gummy type snacks, fruit snacks/fruit leather, and string cheese. 

  1. On your barb wire 4 breakfast website you wrote another great article,The world is your playground. I always say my 2,000corinne climbs acre reservation in my “backyard” has everything that someone needs to train. One item I thought was missing from your article that I hope you can share on is pre-workout and post-workout stretches. Do you have any stretching, yoga or other tips for this?

I have to admit I am really bad about stretching and it has been a weakness of mine my entire life. I cannot touch my toes. I have been trying to work on this and have been going to yoga about once a week for the last few months. I don’t usually stretch before working out but I have been trying to get better. I am sure a lot of my injuries may have been prevented by stretching so please learn from my bad examples. I am better on post workout recovery. I almost always ice and use the foam roller. I try to walk around after a workout to stop the muscles from cramping back up. I could use some help with the pre/post stretches for sure! 

  1. For someone new coming into the sport, where do you suggest they start?

(Separate from this interview an article written by Corinne and recently published here.  It is a great read.  Aside from the written article she has added the below)

Bottom line this is what I think: I think people can start anywhere as long as they keep a positive attitude and come prepared. This means knowing your limits and believing in yourself. Know that this race may be very difficult and you may hate it and curse the burpees, but know that you CAN DO IT (and know you will LOVE it when its over!) People less fit, less motivated, less prepared have come before you and succeeded. Recruiting friends to run with you can help make the race more fun and safer and is a great way to start. 

  1. With your 2012 accomplishments and what you have accomplished so far in 2013, what are your goals finishing up the year with some of the most challenging races on your schedule coming in September and November?

The points system is completely different this year and the competition is ever more different. I would say that UltraBeast being heavily weighted last year gave me a huge advantage in the overall points system last year as I came in 6th place. The Ultra Beast will not be counted in this year’s points and will be weighted at a much lower percentage for 2014 points. With all races having a cash heat this year and the Navy Federal Credit Union purses doubling the competition has gotten insane. Faster and faster racers are showing up, showing up time and time again, and training harder than ever. I am good at the obstacles but have never been fast. I cannot run fast enough to keep up with the “runners”. I have lost by 10 minutes or more to “runners” who have had to do 120-150 burpees when I have done zero. I am slow on my feet and while I am fast at the obstacles I can’t make up 3-4 minute/mile difference on the longer races. I will not place as well this year. I would love to be in the top 20 woman but honestly that would be a miracle. There are so many skilled fast ladies racing this year I’m just not sure. My real goals for the year are to finish the Hunter Gatherer 100K survival run, to do 5 or more laps at World’s Toughest Mudder, to finish the ultra beast in under 11 hours, to win the entire Alpha Warrior series, to recover from my injuries, and to continue to inspire people, help people, and be inspired by the obstacle racing community.

 corinne chain

Barb Wire 4 Breakfast website

Barb Wire 4 Breakfast Facebook page

Spartan Race Blog entries

Corinne Kohlen Obstacle Specialist




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