With the 2021 obstacle course racing season now getting underway, we caught up with Robert Killian, a two-time Spartan World Champion, Ironman Military World Champion, and Best Ranger Competition winner to talk training, technique, mindset, and nutrition.
Robert Killian’s Winning Mindset
For Robert, mindset is everything. Part of it comes down to sheer grit and determination. With his military background, Robert has been in his fair share of stressful, physically exhausting situations. “I just tell myself that if I’ve made it through that, I can make it through this race,” he says. Spending lots of time training in the mountains of Colorado has helped to prepare Robert for racing in harsh conditions too, and taught him never to underestimate mountain weather. This training has given him the edge in numerous competitions, when other racers were unprepared for snow and freezing temperatures.
Focus is also crucial to Robert’s winning mindset. You can see this in photos of him at events: while the other competitors are checking their watches, tying their shoelaces, chatting, he is staring straight ahead, totally focused on the task ahead. “I don’t worry about the competition. I don’t look at what they’re doing – I just focus on what I need to do, and on the race ahead.” Being able to maintain focus like this comes down to confidence, says Robert, “It’s all about building confidence. It’s so important to believe in yourself and trust in yourself and you trust in your body’s capabilities.”
This focus and self-confidence have helped Robert Killian to shrug off the haters. “People underestimate me because of my build. I’m not the biggest guy, so they don’t think I’ll be able to do the heavier carries. But it’s not about building mass, it’s about figuring out the best way to complete the obstacles.” With a large online following (over 43 thousand followers on Instagram and counting), a few trolls are par for the course. “There are people who want to troll you or try to make themselves feel better by putting you down. But I’m not a hateful person so I try to just ignore it. If they need that to feel better about themselves, then that’s their business.”
Learning from Mistakes
Another key aspect of Robert’s winning mindset comes from his ability to learn from failure. “If I lose or if I fail at something, I just figure I need to work harder, so I try to see it as a learning experience. Sometimes it just wasn’t your day, but you’ve got to keep plugging along and one day you’ll get there. And if I’ve hit my actual limits, I’m ok with that. You have to accept that some people have more natural talent in some areas.”
Even an athletes as accomplished as Robert can still suffer from pre-race jitters though. “It’s pretty common for me to get anxiety two full weeks before a race. It affects my sleep, and it invades my dreams so I’m just going over obstacles again and again.”
However, since he started using a combination of PurePower products (including Daily Boost, Power Up, and Power Down), Robert describes how his sleep has improved and he feels calmer, even in the run-up to races. “I’m sleeping better, I have less anxiety, I’m recovering faster, and I’ve got more energy in the morning when I’m powering up. I feel like I’m more in sync, which gives me more confidence when I’m training, allowing me to focus more on what’s important.”
Using the Data
One of the secrets of Robert’s success is how data-driven he is, which allows him to determine scientifically exactly what works for him in terms of nutrition, training, and more. He’s been monitoring his heart rate variability consistently for more than two years, as well as his sleep quality, resting heart rate, and more. “Since taking PurePower consistently, I’ve seen deeper sleep, lower resting heart rate when sleeping, longer REM cycles, and better heart rate variability percentage on waking up, all of which has helped me take on that tougher training and see bigger gains.”
Being able to see this data in real-time has also allowed Robert Killian to be able to work with his body more, and make use of his natural rhythms. “You have to look at your cycles, look at when your body’s primed to take on strain, and work to get gains over a longer period of time. Short-term gains mean you’re going to plateau. If you go through cycles and take time to recover, you’re going to see higher peaks. You have to listen to your body. That’s really important to me and has helped me be successful.”
So what’s Robert Killian working on next? Well, his training schedule remains pretty packed, especially with the OCR season now underway. He’s currently focusing on strength training, which he maintains is the best way to prevent injury (along with allowing adequate time for recovery). His preferred method is medium weight, high-rep, high-intensity strength training, and it seems to be paying off. In the first big OCR event of the year in Jacksonville FL at the end of February, he placed on the podium for both the Spartan Honor Series and the Spartan Sprint. Here at PurePower, we’ll be keeping a close eye on where this season takes him!