2017 Spartan Iceland Champ’s 2018
Joshua Fiore knows a thing or three about being busy. The 2017 Spartan Ultra world champion took on the challenge of the punishing Spartan Iceland 24-hour race in the thick of his medical studies, and while clocking in weekly as a Boston firefighter.
To say the last couple of years have been hectic for him is something of an understatement. But the Massachusetts native shows little hint of slowing down. Having recently graduated from Northeastern University, Boston, as a board-certified physician assistant, Joshua is set on defending his Icelandic title once again in December.
Oh, and he has the small matter of organizing a wedding with Cheryl Puello, his girlfriend and soulmate who said, “Hell, yeah!” to the marriage proposal he popped at last year’s winning line. But they’re planning on a totally laid-back wedding, he says, laughing. “We hope to get married within the next year or two on a big, rustic farm, with pizza and Chinese food for our meal plan!”
Still, Joshua’s schedule seems more than most could handle, especially someone training for a Spartan Iceland ultra event, and he claims it’s a to-do list that exhausts and tests him too. Completing it comes down to the one difference between being a person who does and one who doesn’t—discipline. “The past two years were real tough, training-wise,” he admits. “I was completing one of the most grueling grad programs in the world, and it took a LOT of discipline to fit training into my first year of classes.”
In fact, not only was Joshua faced with day-long classes, but he also had to participate in clinical rotations that could last 12–16 hours a day. “Most of my training had to be done early in the morning, which meant getting up at 4 a.m. to go running, cycling, or strength training,” he reveals. “On the weekends was when I did most of my long distance training, with back-to-back long runs ranging from 15 to 30 miles per day.”
While these dawn workouts were in themselves like classes in willpower, Joshua notes, “It was tough, but I also think it helped out with my mental game for the extra long hours and conditions in Iceland last year.”
Prepping his mental strength proved to be one of the most important ways he managed to crush the competition in Iceland—and keep him sane while he studied. “At least once a day while I was studying and training I would meditate with guided meditation along with reaffirmation drills,” he says. “The mental aspect is probably the most important part of any long distance endurance race, and especially one as crazy as Iceland!”
Now with his grad studies over, the reigning Spartan Iceland champ continues to tick off endurance races on his monthly calendar while he works in a new position as an instructor at Pro EMS Training for Medics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He’s not going to let a little thing like time get in the way of doing the things he loves, and he advises others, no matter how busy they are, to think likewise. Joshua’s philosophy is that you have to know what makes a fulfilling life for you, and then commit to the effort it takes to do those things. “In other words, have fun, and enjoy the process. I always say, if it’s not fun, then why do it?”
2017 Spartan Iceland Champ’s Advice
So what are some of the pro tips that the man who has been there, done that, and got both the medal and the girl in the process, can share with new obstacle course racers desperate to squeeze time out of their schedules to train? Here’s Joshua’s advice.
Tip #1: Get to the Trails, ASAP!
Get straight onto some trails or, even better, mountains, suggests Joshua. By bypassing days spent pounding the pavement, you’ll familiarize yourself with OCR terrain sooner rather than later, he says. “It’s great if you can run a really fast 5K on flat pavement, but it doesn’t equate much to the uneven terrain and mountains of an OCR. Mountains teach you not only to run, but how to hike fast, and run down sketchy downhills.”
Tip #2: Build Slow to Go Fast
“Slowly build up your mileage with periodization,” advises Joshua. “Often new runners start feeling really good about improving their running and end up getting hurt or in daily pain because they are building up those miles way too fast.” Build your endurance too by mixing up strength training. For Iceland, Joshua worked on core, balance, and plyometrics, “with lots and lots of indoor rock climbing!”
Tip #3: Recovery and Rest Wins Races
You don’t have to crush it every week. Joshua’s game plan for Iceland also involved taking recovery weeks every third or fourth week of training. “Here my mileage was decreased significantly with lots of stretching and yoga.” He also practiced meditation regularly, which, as both a physician assistant and an athlete he knows can scale back stress, strengthen resilience, and boost your immunity to sickness, strain, and that old friend to competitors—fear.
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