We all want to know: What makes the best-of-the-best Spartan athletes out there tick? How do they keep their edge? In our Train Like A Champ series, we dig into the details of the training, nutrition, mindset, and more that keeps our most epic athletes on top.
Tyler Veerman (@tveerman_ocr) heard the mountains calling—and he went. Born and raised in Illinois, the 26 year old moved to Colorado four years ago and has never been happier. He’s training more consistently, even with a full-time physically-demanding job. “I'm really enjoying myself a lot more out here,” says Veerman. “I want to take my running career to another level.”
The up-and-coming Spartan Pro’s keys to success include having a goal-based plan and maintaining a positive mindset. Here, he talks about all the other factors that go into building a high-performance body, from proper nutrition to active recovery.
Check out what a FULL week of Spartan Tyler Veerman's Workouts Looks Like
A Q&A With Spartan Tyler Veerman
SPARTAN RACE: How did you get started with OCR?
TYLER VEERMAN: I ran in college, but in my final year I got really burnt out. There was always a part of me that wanted to run, but I wanted something different. I’d ask myself, “What types of things can I start doing that will challenge me in every aspect of fitness?" So, I started climbing and doing Ninja Warrior, then when I heard people talking about mud running and obstacles, that really sparked my interest.
SR: What do you think it takes to be a top-performing athlete?
TV: It’s a couple of things: training smart and having a positive mindset towards everything.
Having a smart program for yourself that's specific to you, and is something you can build upon with goals is so important. I think a lot of people race so much and want to do every race they can and meet up with friends and have a good time, but you’ve got to be smart. High-performance athletes need to plan things out, periodize their training and have goals. That’s definitely going to pay in the long run for sure.
For me, I don’t even consider it training, it’s kind of playtime. Yeah, I'm going out and working myself hard at times, but I love it like that. I'm loving every minute of it. I wouldn't be out there if I wasn't enjoying myself. I think you can’t have any negative attitude towards any of your training, like, "I really don't want to do this. This sucks, but I know I'll get fit." I just don't think that's the right mindset you should have. You should know what you're doing, why you're doing it, but also enjoy the process of it.
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Finally swinging into the off-season _____ Looking back at the early years since I started competing in OCR it seems like every year has just been getting better & better. I'm competing in bigger races, meeting more amazing & inspiring athletes, and not to mention finishing in the top percentile in most of my races. _____ I am beyond grateful & fortunate for all of the opportunities that have come my way. This wouldn't have been easy without the help of my friends and family who have supported me every step of the way. So with that I say THANK YOU! _____ I look forward now to putting in some quality off-season training in prep for 2019! #blessed #thereisnooffseason #ocr #spartanrace #spartanracecombine
SR: How do you maintain a positive mindset?
TV: I work full time and it can be super tricky to balance out 40, 45 hours a week of work with six, eight, or nine hours of training a week. It can be hard sometimes, especially is there’s something else on your mind, whether it's work-related, or if it's a relationship, whatever. I think it’s about focusing on not letting those major stresses in life get the best of you.
I won't necessarily meditate, but I'm fairly religious, so I'll pray when I need to, before races and stuff. And my family comes out [to my races] and that's huge for me. You got to be grateful for everything, I’m very grateful and thankful for everything. I like to self-reflect and look at how far I’ve gotten, and I just appreciate everything and all the opportunities I’ve been given.
SR: How would you describe your training?
TV: I have a heavy running background, so my training has a strong running base, but I try to include everything like hill work and flat land running, for example. Strength wise, I do calisthenics, bodyweight workouts, and a lot of climbing. Climbing is really where I get most of my grip strength from and it builds a lot of those muscles that help me pump my arms a lot harder. I think it has improved my running technique. I also have physically demanding jobs with a lot of functional work like lifting, pushing, pulling, and I'm doing that four to eight hours a day.
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@spartanrace World's is right around the corner so it's time to put in some last minute preparations #tbt to last year There were still some things I could have thought twice about Like NOT wearing my (not so quick drying) podium shirt through Arctic water conditions Didn't quite pay off trying to look stylish especially with the whole not being able to feel my limbs thing..which eventually cost me 30 burpees at the spear 🤦 Oh well! we live & we learn and that's what makes us better athletes But this will be my 3rd year running Squaws course and I couldn't be any more excited to race this time around 🤙 __________________ #spartan #spartanpro #spartanwc2019
SR: How do you recover with such a busy schedule?
TV: The best thing for me is to stay active, even if it’s the lightest of activity. If I just sit around all day, that’s the worst thing for me.
I'll foam roll when I can and when I feel like I should. I'll definitely put in a solid 10-, 20-minute rolling sesh, or stretch out, or take a hot shower and stretch out after that, but honestly, I’ll just try to stay active as much as I can, unless I am really hurting or am bedridden.
SR: What’s your approach to food and nutrition?
TV: For the most part, I'm pretty flexible with how I eat, but I try to know what my body wants and what it doesn’t. I try to eat in moderation and don't count my calories or anything like that, it stresses me out. I try to include everything in the food pyramid but don’t just stick to one thing with the exception of after my runs where I try to have just the right amount of carbs and protein. I like to do smoothies every now and then, I’ll just blend together a bunch of random stuff like some fruits and veggies then some protein powder.
SR: How do you know what foods work for you?
It’s been a process of elimination or a trial and error kind of deal, but if I can tell my performances is decreasing, that's definitely something I consider. And not too long ago I realized I was lactose intolerant, so that was a huge thing for me. My stomach was upset more often than it should've been, so when I stopped drinking milk and switched to almond milk, I started to feel a whole lot better.
SR: How does Spartan Racing carry over into your other parts of your life?
TV: It keeps me motivated and driven to set goals for myself. It opens the doors to more things and allows you to see the potential in yourself. I sleep better, eat better, and make smarter decisions. It affects everything because not only do I want to be better as an athlete, but I want to be healthier in general.
And what’s really great is, if you do this sport, and you commit to it and give it your all, surprises will happen. It gives you such a confidence boost, and making the podium is a great feeling.
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