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“The more things you can do that bring you joy and don't feel as much like training, I think the better.”—Nicole Mericle
Nicole Mericle grew up in Texas and played soccer until she found out she had a knack for running. After a soccer injury set her back in training, she turned her focus towards running Track and Field and Cross country in high school.
Nicole earned a full scholarship to Rice University where she held school records in the 6k cross country and steeplechase events and graduated with a degree in sports medicine. She initially thought she would go to medical school after college, but she did not end up applying. Instead, she moved to Colorado, took up rock climbing and worked for a running shoe company for a couple years.
During this time, Nicole was plagued by hip injury problems of which numerous doctors and specialists could not determine the cause. Subsequently, she quit her job with the running shoe company to go back to school and pursue running pain free. It became clear that she could not continue to run on roads or track if she wanted to run pain free, so she planned to focus on trail running until she found out about Obstacle Course Racing. After her first race in May 2016, she was hooked and this accomplishment changed the trajectory of the rest of her season to focus on OCR events.
Nicole placed 2nd at the OCR World Championships 15k in 2016, 1st in the 3k and 2nd in the 15k at the 2017 OCR World Championships, 1st in the 3k at the 2018 OCR World Championships, 2nd in the 2019 Spartan US National Series, 1st in the 2019 15k North American OCR Championships, 2nd in the OCR North American Championships 3K, 2nd at the 2019 Spartan North American Championships, 1st at the 2019 Spartan World Championships, and 1st in the 2019 Spartan Trifecta World Championships.
Through it all, she has found her background in running and rock climbing has prepared her well for the OCR and Spartan events. However, she has had to work hard to develop the strength and mindset needed to lift the heavy carry obstacles that are a part of OCR.
OCR racers face all kinds of challenges. Imagine what it’s like to balance two heavy loads...let alone if a racer drops one of them and has to find a way to simultaneously lift and rebalance them. Nicole’s love of rock climbing has helped prepare her for a lot of the upper body strength required in OCR. She also continues to run 5-6 days a week, does traditional weight training at least 2 times a week, and at least weekly, she carries a 50 pound sandbag around after one of her runs.
Staying fit obviously involves a healthy dose of nutrition, but Nicole doesn’t obsess about her diet too much. Although she naturally gravitates toward healthy living and eating nutritiously, she gives herself permission to eat sweets every day.
Keeping her “mental game” in check is also a big factor of Nicole’s training. Her coach David Roche has played a big role in helping encourage her to have the right mindset. If one thing is not working out for her, Nicole will approach her goals in another way. Being flexible, but keeping her overall ambitions in sight, has played a key part in her OCR career. Although road running was causing more injuries than it was worth, she was able to channel her passion for competition and running into something that worked for her, becoming an inspiration to everyone and a world-class athlete in OCR.
0:45 What races Nicole Mericle has coming up and her OCR wins for the past year
3:50 How she handled her nerves in the 2019 Spartan World Championship in Lake Tahoe
10:45 Her unique race weekend in Trifecta World Championship 2019 in Greece
13:15 What training she will be focussing on in 2020
15:35 What she has done to keep racing while dealing with past running and hip injuries
19:00 Nicole’s tips to find success in training
20:45 How Nicole unwinds and relaxes
23:45 Her inner dialogue and mindset for competitions
25:40 Handling race jitters at a start of a race
28:50 How she overcame major setbacks earlier on in her life
31:39 Accepting certain limitations and adapting goals
35:10 Recognizing there is power in rest and power in altering goals when needed
36:00 Her nutrition and health philosophy
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Podcast Music Credit:
Motherlode Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/