“I’m not the strongest. I’m not the fastest. But I’m really good at suffering.”
Amelia Boone has been called “the Michael Jordan of obstacles course racing” (OCR) and is widely considered the world’s most decorated obstacles racer. Since the inception of the sports, she’s amassed more than 30 victories and 50 podiums. In the 2012 World’s Toughest Mudder competition, which lasts for over 24 hours (she covered 90 miles and ~300 obstacles), she finished second OVERALL out of more than 1,000 competitors, 80% of whom were male. Her major victories include the Spartan Race World Championship and the Spartan Race Elite Point Series, and she is the only three-time winner of the World’s Toughest Mudder (2012, 2014, and 2015). She won the 2014 championship 8 weeks after the knee surgery. Amelia is also a three-time finisher of the Death Race, a full-time attorney at Apple, and she dabbles in ultra running (qualified for the Western States 100) in all of her spare time.
- What would you put on a billboard?
“No one owes you anything.”
- Amelia’s best $100 or less purchase?
“Manuka honey bandages. Amelia has scars all over her shoulders and back from barbed-wire wounds.
- Most-gifted or recommended book
“House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski: “This is a book that you have to hold, because there are part of it where you need to run it upside down to read it. There are certain a page where, you are reading it and it turns in a circle….This is a book that’s an entire sensory experience.”
AMELIA’S TIPS AND TACTICS
- Hydrolyzed gelatin + beet root powder: I’ve consumed gelatin for connective tissue repair in the past. I have never stuck with it long term because gelatin takes on a seagull poo-like texture when mixed into cold water. Amelia saved my palate and joints by introducing me to the Great Lakes hydrolyzed version (green label), which blends easily and smoothly. Add a tablespoon of beet root powder like BeetElite to stave off any cow-hoof flavor, and it’s a whole new game. Amelia uses BeetElite pre-race and pre-training for its endurance benefits, but I am much harder-core: I use it to make tart, low-carb gummy bears when fat Tim has carb cravings.
- RumbleRoller: Think foam roller meets monster-truck tire. Foam rollers have historically done very little for me, but this torture device had an immediate positive impact on my recovery. (It also helps you sleep if used before bed.) Warning: Start slow. I tried to copy Amelia and did 20-plus minutes my first session. The next days, I felt like I’d put in a sleeping bag and swung against a tree for a few hours.
- Rolling your foot on top of a golf ball on the floor to increase “hamstring” flexibility. This is infinitely more helpful than a lacrosse ball. Put a towel on the floor underneath the golf ball, lest you shoot your dog’s eye out.
- Concept2 SkiErg for training when your lower body is injured. After knee surgery, Amelia used this low-impact machine to maintain cardiovascular endurance and prepare for the 2014 World’s Toughest Mudder, which she won 8 weeks post-op.
- Dry needling: I’d never heard of this before meeting Amelia. “[In acupuncture] the goal is not to feel the needle. In dry-needling, you are sticking the needle in the muscle belly and trying to get it to twitch, and the twitch is the release.” It’s used for super-tight, over-contracted muscles, and the needles are not left in. Unless you’re a masochist, don’t have this done on your calves.
- Sauna for endurance: Amelia has found using a sauna improves her endurance, a conept that has since been confirmed by several other athletes, including David Zabriskie, seven-time U.S National Time Trail Championship winner. He considers sauna training a more practical replacement for high-altitude simulation tents. In the 2005 Tour de France, Dave won the Stage 1 time trail, making him the first American to win stages in all three Grand Tours. Zabriskie beat Lance Armstrong by seconds, clocking an average speed of 54.676 kilometers per hour (!). I now use a sauna at least four times per week. To figure out the best protocols, I asked another podcast guest, Rhonda Patrick.
Who do you think of when you hear the word “successful”?
“Triple H is a great example [of someone who’s transitioned extremely well from athlete to business executive].
- Amelia eats Pop-Tarts as part of her ritual pre-competition breakfast.
- Her record for unbroken double-under (passing a jump rope under your feet with one jump) is 423, and this able to impress all CrossFitters. Unbeknownst to them, she was a state jump rope champion in third grade. Also unbeknownst to them, she ended at 423 because she had to pee so badly that she peed her pants.
- Amelia loves doing training runs in the rain and cold, as she knows her competition is probably opting out. This is an example of “rehearsing the worst-case scenario” to become more resilient.
- She is a gifted a cappella singer and was part of the Greenleafs group at Washington University in St. Louis.