Amelia Boone, a Great Athlete And an Apple Attorney
Inspiring Women Series
Amelia Boone is an athlete of the first order, competing at the elite level in endurance races, CrossFit, ultra-running and obstacle course racing (OCR). These fittest-of-the-fit sports have been growing rapidly in popularity, drawing larger purses and endorsements from corporate sponsors. Amelia has been an early icon.
I spoke with Amelia about her philosophy of dual-tracking a business career with being a pro athlete. When she's not winning top prizes, she works as a corporate attorney for Apple in its HQ. Yes, she manages to train and compete at a high level while maintaining a full-time job in a challenging field.
- 2013 Spartan Race World Champion
- Three-time winner of the 24-hour World's Toughest Mudder
- Golden ticket winner out of the Sean O'Brien 100k, giving her entry into the vaunted Western States endurance run
- Three-time finisher of the Death Race, a grueling 30+-hour course through brutal terrain in sub-freezing temperatures with unknown obstacles and no predetermined end time
- Numerous podium finishes in a long list of grinding competitions
Amelia Boone is a relentless achiever. She can deadlift nearly double her body weight and push-press her body weight overhead. For those of you who don't lift, that's impressive strength. Amelia has been featured in Newsweek and on CNBC with Carl Quintanilla in a special about extreme sports.
She has earned the right to a large measure of swagger, yet the first thing that strikes you about Amelia is her humility.
The Role of Nutrition in Her Success
"Nutrition is important, but I am by no means very rigid or dogmatic about it. With the amount of activity I do, I want to make sure I'm feeding my body correctly. I take in good, quality calories but I'm not obsessive about it."
Experimenting with Nutrition
"I have tried to go fat-adapted, which means low-carb, and they say for long distances, it prevents the bonk from carb depletion since you're burning fat. I tried but eventually abandoned it. I've experimented with things, but I've gotten into a good balance now; moderate carbs/fat and hi-protein."
Rest Days: a Routine or an Instinctive Choice?
"I try to have one day a week as a rest day, but it's not scheduled. It's based around what the training looks like for the week. It's hard for me to do completely nothing, so my rest day will include stretching, mobility, foam-rolling, and a nice walk around the neighborhood. Especially as I get older, I realize the importance of rest."
Whether Threshold Levels Exist for OCR at the Elite Level
"Not officially, but we've all kind of opined on it, like, 'What's the ideal mix for an obstacle course racer? Do you have to be able to run a sub 5:30 mile or be able to lift x amount?' But I think the beauty of this sport is you don't. There are no gating factors or thresholds such as minimums for the Olympic trials, where women have to run a sub 2:45:00 marathon. Because OCR is so full-body, it's not standardized and no two courses are alike, so I think that's what attracted me to it. One big factor is you have to be able to control and hold your own body weight to climb walls or pull yourself through a rig of hanging rings.
So it's a harder metric to quantify than absolute strength.
How Pressures of External Expectations Can Affect the Way You Look at a Race
"I struggled with this. It started as, 'Hey, I'm good at this and people are noticing.' That was kind of fun, but then people started expecting me to be at the top, and the cliché of, 'It's hard to get to the top and even harder to stay there' came true for me. I felt as if I had a target on my back, and for a year or two, it was hard to find the fun in it. I got stressed out before every race, and it was no longer an outlet. I was living up to other's expectations. Mentally I went through a shift, where I decided to go out there and kick some ass and see what happens."
Everyone expected her to win Spartan Race 2015, and when she came in fourth, she felt as though she had to apologize to people. She realized life goes on and people weren't disappointed in her. That awareness became freeing for her.
The confidence developed as an attorney and as a champion support one another. "The lessons go both ways. If I've had a tough work situation, I learn composure. I can use that on a course when things don't go my way. There's nothing in this moment that can't be fixed. Let's scan everything, re-frame and readjust."
Amelia is a proponent of EQ (emotional intelligence), which she believes is much more useful than IQ. It helps on race days when she can get a sense, particularly from people against whom she's raced before, of who looks in a good place and will likely perform well that day. "It is, by far, a better gauge of your success in life than absolute intelligence."
Advice for Teenage Girls
What's her advice for teenage girls to achieve professional success while remaining happy and healthy?
"For me, it's realizing that you have to play the long game. You're not going to be able to have everything all at once. In college, I gave up athletics to focus on my studies. Sometimes you need to focus on one part of your life, get that in order and then move on to the next part. Especially for young women—tune out the noise, the social media, the negative stereotypes and things people say that just don't matter. It's hard to do, but nothing good comes from listening to these things."
A Moment of Revelation
"After winning the Spartan Race World Championship in 2013, I went down and sat in the lake, and I looked around and said, 'This is going to change everything.' Soon after I signed with Reebok. I keep those moments tucked away because they're really cool to reflect on."
Her parting thought: "It's important to me to not frame things in terms of successes and failures but to frame them in terms of experiences and lessons."
Follow Amelia's career
Amelia Boone Racing - Website
@AmeliaBoone - Twitter
Amelia Boone - Facebook