TRAINED FOR THE GAMES: This 'Scrawny Runner' Is Now an Elite Athlete
TRAINED FOR THE GAMES is a four-part interview series that explores the training, nutrition, and recovery of four elite-level athletes that participated in Spartan Games 2.0, presented by U.S. Air Force Special Warfare. Episode 1 will premiere on March 24 at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch on Outside TV, SpartanTV, and Spartan's YouTube channel.
Corinna Coffin, like many others, was originally apprehensive about lifting heavy weights.
“I had a lot of influential people throughout my college career who taught me how to move properly and built up my confidence in the weight room,” she says.
Her journey started with club lacrosse at Virginia Tech, then continued with her participation on a triathlon team, and then CrossFit and obstacle course racing. Now, she’s competing in various events across the country — including Spartan Games 2.0 — against some of the fittest athletes out there.
“I went from this scrawny runner girl to finding strength and muscle which really changed the trajectory of my athletic journey" she says.
Related: TRAINED FOR THE GAMES: How This Elite CrossFitter Evolves as an Athlete
She’s also taking her collective knowledge and experiences as both an athlete and sports dietitian to support other athletes and active individuals with her nutrition coaching services at theRDathlete.com.
Here, Corinna tells us about her experience at the Games, how she approaches nutrition, plus what it’s like to train like her for a week.
A Q&A With Spartan Games 2.0 Athlete Corinna Coffin
SPARTAN: How did you get into fitness and training?
CORINNA COFFIN: I’ve always loved playing sports, so I guess this idea of “fitness” first became intriguing as a means to be a better asset to my sports teams. But then I quickly fell in love with fitness for all that it is, rather than a means to an end athletically, and it catapulted from there. Particularly during my college years, I had a lot of wonderful people in my life who took the time to teach me how to move properly and do exercises I had never done before. It was completely new to me and intimidating at first, which I think was part of what initially drew me in.
SPARTAN: What was the Spartan Games experience like for you?
CC: The Spartan Games experience was/is one of a kind. I love the concept of testing athletes across a wide array of exercise modalities and seeing who comes out on top. It’s a lot to ask of our bodies, but it’s also extremely rewarding to be tested in so many different ways. The event as a whole is really creative and there’s nothing else quite like it. It’s an honor to be a part of its conception.
Related: TRAINED FOR THE GAMES: This Elite CrossFitter Designs EPIC Programs
SPARTAN: In hindsight, is there anything that you’d do to improve?
CC: It’s really hard to prepare for something as diverse as the Spartan Games. You really can’t prepare for it, because there’s a lot of mystery in the events. You really don’t know what to expect until it happens. You can only succeed in an event like this if you include some diversity in your training.
SPARTAN: Do you have any tips for picking up and carrying that Titan Husacross from DEKA Heavy?
CC: I pretend like my feet are drilled into the ground and keep driving downward as I stand it up. You lift from your legs and glutes, not your back!
SPARTAN: What are you focused on right now, athletically?
CC: I’m focused on new challenges. Spartan Games inspired me to dabble in the tactical space a bit and try my hand at some shooting and fitness combos. Additionally, I’m always trying to get faster while staying as strong as possible, so that’s a never-ending pursuit!
SPARTAN: How would you describe your approach to food and nutrition?
CC: As a registered dietitian and nutrition coach, my mission is to help people navigate food and nutrition in a way that enhances their quality of life and helps them achieve their goals. I have a really wholesome approach when it comes to overall health. In a nutshell, take care of your body: Move it in ways that are fun, nourish it with foods rich in nutrients, but also enjoy yourself. Life’s too short to take [it] seriously all of the time.
Related: TRAINED FOR THE GAMES: This Airman Took on the Titans of Fitness
SPARTAN: How did you develop this philosophy?
CC: This philosophy has been developed as a culmination of a lot of things, including the way that my parents raised me and their outlook on health, years of nutrition (undergrad and graduate) school, self-application, and helping others with their nutrition struggles. Bits and pieces of all of these experiences have helped me formulate this outlook.
SPARTAN: What does your nutrition look like around your events?
CC: It looks like a lot! Especially in a taper for an upcoming event, nutrition should be the primary focus. I think of my body as a race car, and my top priority is to be fueled up and ready to go at the start line.
SPARTAN: What does your recovery protocol look like?
CC: My recovery protocol is multi-faceted and involves a combination of nutrition, hydration, foam rolling, stretching, and getting good sleep. I’m really perceptive to the signals and cues from my body to determine my needs. Being able to tell when something’s off, or when I’m not rested or need more downtime naturally, is important to me. It challenges me to quiet some of the noise and pay close attention. It can be hard work, but it’s worth it. I’m by no means opposed to data tracking. I just prefer to do it the “old-school” way.
Related: How to Build an At-Home Gym Like These 4 Elite Spartan Games Athletes
SPARTAN: What have you learned about yourself as an athlete?
CC: I’ve learned that I’m pretty resilient. I don’t back down from a good challenge, but I’m also a student and am always learning from those around me.
SPARTAN: What's one of your go-to Spartan workouts?
Fan Bike Intervals:
5-10 minutes of warming up/slowly biking
— 5 sets of 1:30 hard, then 1:30 easy
— 4 sets of 1:00 hard, then 1:00 easy
— 3 sets of a 30-second sprint, then 30 seconds easy
A 5-10 minute cool down (easy bike)
Train Like Corinna Coffin for a Week
Corinna’s current training schedule is designed to get her stronger and faster, which is something of a never-ending pursuit, she says. Within a week of training, you’ll find every aspect of fitness covered, including power, strength, skill, and cardiovascular and muscular endurance.
AM: Power and strength (Olympic lifts, lower-body push/pull, and core)
PM: Running intervals (anaerobic)
AM: Strength (upper-body push/pull)
PM: Longer aerobic capacity training
AM: Strength (lower-body pull/push and core)
PM: Weighted ruck (20-35 pounds of weight for 45-60 minutes)
AM/PM: Active recovery (Zone 2 run/row/bike/swim, mobility, and stretching)
AM: Upper-body pull/push
PM: Intervals (monostructural or mixed modality: run, row, bike, ski, or stair climber)
AM/PM: This "fun day" changes up weekly, but it will usually be a long "grunt work" session with friends involving strength and endurance.
Full rest day
U.S. Air Force Special Warfare takes mental and physical toughness to the next level, which is why they were the perfect partner for this year’s Spartan Games. To learn more about the heroes who make up the top 1% of the 1%, click here.