When we started the US National Series, Spartan Pro Team athlete Nicole Mericle was noticeably absent from the starting lines in San Jose and Seattle. Mericle was sidelined with a hamstring injury early in the season, but has since come storming back to play spoiler in Chicago and Utah; taking second place behind Lindsay Webster in each of those two races.
Mericle made her US National Series debut in Big Bear, where she finished fifth place amongst the elite females. “I admittedly didn’t keep up with my cross training very well during [my recovery] and pretty much rock climbed and dropped in on my friend’s Crossfit-style workouts. I wasn’t able to put in normal weeks of running until well into May and was even still feeling the hamstring injury into June.”
While Mericle was not able to log many training miles, she did improve her overall strength and added some muscle weight. “The reality is I’m a different athlete than I was last year. I’m stronger from rock climbing and lifting, so I do have that going for me, but I’ve also put on some weight and I don’t have the running volume or workouts behind me that I did this time last year.”
Now as we enter Spartan championship season, Mericle says she is still trying to find the ideal amount of muscle and weight while ramping up her running. “I’m encouraged for the rest of the season and I expect to be in tip-top shape in a couple months when it really counts in Tahoe.”
A now-healthy Mericle still feels that although she is not in peak shape headed into the North American Championships, she believes she will give Lindsay Webster a run for her money. Last year, Mericle turned in a strong performance at the Summit at Bechtel Reserve, finishing seconds behind winner Rea Kolbl. “I love the variety that the West Virginia course offers with some bushwhacking, steep ups and descents and plenty of flat ground to open up on.”
Tune in to Spartan Race LIVE! August 25th at 7:00 AM EST to watch the action unfold!