Elin’s travel to the World championship

Take part of Elin Härkönen preparations for the challenging World Championship in obstacle course racing!

To start off, we’d love for you to tell us a bit about your sport?

Maybe you’ve heard about “Toughest” or “Tough Viking”. They’re two great obstacle course races that are arranged several times a year.

Obstacle Course Racing is a sport where the competitors run a distance full of different kinds of obstacles – rings, fences, walls, containers, monkey bars, ropes, tires and so on. Simply put - an obstacle course mixed with running. The distances vary from race to race, but at the world championship there is a class called sprint (4-5 km) and one that’s called long/standard distance (15-22 km).

The competitors have to bring their flexibility, strength, endurance, coordination and balance. It’s a variation of all these things and it’s really challenging. Running is also a combination of mud, water, and terrain so it’s important to an experienced runner.

How do you prepare mentally for the World Championship?

Actually, I didn’t really plan on competing in the world championships, since I’m quite new to the sport. But the competitor in me took over and now I’m as ready as I’ve ever been. I really want to perform at my best.

Preparation is key and it comes with dozens of different processes. Both mentally and physically. So right now I’m focusing all of my free time into training and recovery. The mind and the body are working together.

What kind of training is part of your lifestyle? Any particular reason(s)?

I hadn’t trained in any specific manner for the European championship and that turned out much better than anyone could expect. ’m still in shock that I actually won and today I’m currently the European champion! I guess you could say strategic routine isn’t always the key.

I work as a personal trainer and my lifestyle is all about health and exercise, so it is in my DNA to train a lot. I believe in varied training and especially in finding an inner balance. I mix intensive cross fit sessions with slower functional weight training, gymnastics, yoga and running.

What is your main focus for improvement, before the upcoming World championship?

I hadn’t done so much running - at all - before the European championship, so I think that’s where I will put in more time. And uphill intervals, for sure!

"Have fun! As someone with a top athletic background and lifestyle, I know how much blood, sweat and tears there are behind success. But don’t forget to balance it with fun."

What is important to think about to avoid injuries before the competition?

Preparing your body. I can’t stress this enough. Strengthen your joints, knees and ankles, elbows, and last but not least shoulders and wrists!

What does your routine look like when it comes to sleep, nutrition, work etc?

I recently started up my own company “BREAK IT and you will MAKE IT” as a personal trainer and nutrition coach, so most of my time has recently been focused towards my company. I said before that the European championship and the qualifying for World Championships were my two main focuses, and I stand by that. My own regular, everyday training will have to take a step back, for now.

Are there any final things you feel are worth mentioning/highlighting for competition preparation?

Have fun! As someone with a top athletic background and lifestyle, I know how much blood, sweat and tears there are behind success. But don’t forget to balance it with fun.

After all I’ve seen and been through, the absolute most important factor is to enjoy the journey that got you there. If it’s not fun, I won’t do it. For example, if something gives me neck pain, I won’t risk my greater health to simply take part in something, no matter the name, size of the audience, importance, etc.

We only live once and I have realized that it is not worth putting your wellbeing on the line just to achieve a medal.

Also; if you would like to follow my travels to the world championship, recharging, thoughts and feelings, but also how I will do in Canada – follow my blog: breakitandyouwillmakeit

BREAK IT and you will MAKE IT

Elin Härkönen