Spot Me Girl Feature of the Week: OCR Racer Noelle Schad Daniels

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When we created Spot Me Girl, we wanted to include all aspects of female fitness, so of course we had to talk to Noelle Schad Daniels when given the chance. This college volleyball player turned police officer turned obstacle course racer has proven that lifting heavy is better when you’re getting dirty doing it.

Spot Me Girl: First, thanks so much for talking with us! So, let’s give everyone a run down of your athletic history?
Noelle Schad Daniels: Of course! Well, I started with volleyball in 7th grade, played through my senior year of college. I had tried gymnastics when I was younger, but I was too tall {laughs}. I even tried out for the water polo team at my college and made it, but it interfered with volleyball too much.

SMG: And now, you’re a cop! Can you tell us about the physicality that comes with the job and how your athleticism helped you?
NSD: Actually, the entry standards are somewhat low…a mile and a half in 18 minutes, 13 pushups untimed…but once you’re in the academy they definitely start to beat you down! There is a lot of running, so if you’re not a runner (like me), it is tough. By the end, you’re running almost 9 miles 3 days a week, alternating swimming and calisthenics. That’s in addition to being on the firing range, squatting or in defensive with your pistol, holding your long gun for long periods of time. It can be tough.

SMG: What got you into Obstacle Course Races?
NSD: I had heard of tough mudder before, but never thought of doing it. I had just gotten off of my multi-month training period with my coach, and halfway through I had my first pursuit. Between boots, uniform, belt, vest, it’s an additional 32 pounds you’re carrying. With my own bodyweight, that put me around 180! Holy shit haha! After that, I realized that it was possible I may not catch someone which would be embarrassing so I went and bought some running shoes. Eventually, I signed up for my first 5k and placed 1st in the women’s trooper division. I was running 11 minute miles when a friend mentioned Spartan Race. I watched the video of people hurling themselves over walls and climbing through obstacles, and decided to sign up with her.

SMG: The first race must have been interesting, did you find that OCR athletes were different from other athletes?
NSD: Each sport sort of has their own stereotype and honestly, OCR is often seen as a “fun run” with costumes, but the athletes are trying to legitimize it as a sport. There is push for it to be on the level of Crossfit games or series. Even to make it an Olympic sport! The community itself is very aggressive about working out and are very healthy. They are also so supportive! It is such a draw. Of course you get some people who don’t understand the commodore of the sport, but for the most part people enjoy cheering on strangers. When you see someone who is struggling, and they have total strangers cheering them on, it is so neat to see that person not give up on the obstacle or themselves. When you have that community around you supporting you, it is so awesome. Even if you do fail, you have people there, “c’mon you can do this, I’m not letting you go till you pass it” they are there to encourage and give tips.

SMG: Some people may not be familiar with OCRs and Spartan Races. Can you explain the format and hierarchy a bit?
NSD: Sure, well the format is based on the course length. Sprint is 3 miles or more. Spartan tells you to prepare for 2 miles over the suggested and usually includes 15 obstacles. Super is 8 miles with 20 obstacles. Beast is 13.1 with 25-30 obstacles. People fail to realize that the terrain can be an obstacle too. In addition to bucket carries, barbwire crawl, sandbag carry, you may also run 3 miles uphill. Ultrabeasthref> is considered full marathon length. Then you have the death race which is a 24 hour event. Typically people sign up for the open heat. Those who want to just have fun, those struggling with weight loss (The biggest loser sends a group), those that are newer to the races. The only different between Open and Elite is that you can “opt-out” of the obstacles in Open which you can’t in Elite. Elite racers are much stronger in the sport. Then there are sponsored pro athletes who are paid by Spartan, travel for Spartan and their job is to race and promote Spartan.
In terms of hierarchy, the Championship races are different for each one. For OCR Championships, there are different races throughout the season you can qualify at. For the most part, people run in their age group. Women’s 25-29, for example.

SMG: And you qualified last year! How was that?
NSD: It was so neat! I didn’t think I was going to be able to go but..carpe diem! Last year I took podium 3 different times. When you get to go up there and hear your name…its really cool

SMG: People may be curious, what happens when this is something you’re really good at?
NSD: Currently I am at the Elite level. I prefer that heat because it forces me to push myself. If you want to push yourself, those are the people you want to be around. There is a ranking system for each group and if you’re trying to go for cash and prizes then you have to go Elite. Standard race prizes are $200, $500, $1000. Championship races, it can be $5,000 all the way through $30,000. BattleFrog’shref> Championship course this year in Atlanta, GA will have a million dollar cash prize to be divided over the winning participants. $1000 per top age group winner. That’s huge!

SMG: Wow, I didn’t realize these races could be so lucrative! Ok, so talking training, how has it changed through your journey with OCRs?
NSD: It started with changing my diet. After I did my first Spartan, I decided to clean up my diet. I’ve kept the same routine lifting wise. I did begin working on my trail running more, to challenge myself with the outdoor terrain. Trail running is tough. The tiniest rock or tree branch can put you on your face! You need to be aware of the path of the trail, and you have to watch for other runners, animals…it challenges you mentally.

SMG: Can you give us a sample of your training during a week leading up to a race?
NSD: Sure! Right now I’m in offseason/training season so I’m lifting heavy and bulking for strength. I’ll do hard runs and long runs. Leg work and plyometrics! I race about 2x a month, April till October. If I know that I have a Spartan race coming up, I know I have to adapt for that opposed to Warrior Dash/Savage Race, etc. You definitely have to train for each one. A week before a Spartan I tone down my running (2-3 miles instead of 5-6). I have an 8 ft obstacle wall in my backyard so I’ll start practicing my approach to the wall. Oddly enough its similar to volleyball footwork so that helps! There is a peg that you’re allowed to use to aid you, but its my goal to never use it. I also practice for the spear throw – I get my bails of hay out and work on my technique. It has a 90% failure rate and if you miss it you have to do 30 burpees. I change my diet by cutting out anything real fatty or things that could upset my stomach. Then carb load the night before!

SMG: What supplements do you strongly suggest to those doing heavy weighted endurance?
NSD: Everyone is different. It seems like everyone in OCR drinks fUShref>. For me, I take CLA for muscle and recovery, fish oil, Glucosamine/Chondroitin. You’re putting a lot of stress on your joints, carrying 60+ on a mountainside, you beat the hell out of your body doing this. You see a lot of knee, ankle, wrist injures…all joints. Aloe vera for digestion, potassium for cramping.

Random fact, plain yellow mustard prevents cramping.

And of course I love Premier Proteinhref>. It is easy! I always lift before my shift so having a Premier Protein with me makes it easy. At work, if I need to run to court or to my squad car, I can just grab one quickly. A great price and it has 30g of protein, 160 calories. Its perfect for getting protein and maintaining weight.

SMG: So which races are you preparing for in 2015?
NSD: Of course I’ll be doing another Spartan trifecta. I’m definitely looking forward to Battle Frog. It is challenging and neat because it is put on by the Navy Seals. Each obstacle is named after a fallen Seal. Of course I’m looking forward to the OCR World Championships, I did that one last year and it was amazing! The main highlight for me is that it will be close again in Ohio and they bring in the top obstacles from each racing series. So besides their own obstacles (its held at a permanent obstacle site (,a href=”http://mudgutsandglory.com/”>Mud Guts and Gloryhref>)), they’ll bring in something from Battle Frog or ABF Mud Run. It can change each year so I’m looking forward to the challenge. Not to mention the almost 300 foot water slide!

SMG: Sounds like a busy year…what are your 2015 goals?
NS: Personal goal is to gain more upper body strength which ties into OCR. For long term…to get others to get out and be active. If I can help one person get off the couch or put down the McDonald’s, that would be satisfying. I feel that is more needed right now as opposed to wanting to complete a race or win something. I enjoy helping other law enforcement get into shape or get back into shape. I would love to change the dynamics of law enforcement in that way. We need to keep ourselves in shape not just for ourselves but for our community too.

SMG: Noelle, that’s awesome, thank you! We wish you luck in 2015 and maybe I’ll let you drag me out on a course one day!

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Want to read about more of our Spot Me Girl Features? Check out our interview with Ana Delia D Iturrondohref> for her journey and fitness advice!

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