Success Story: OCR Athlete Tara Skinner
Success Story: OCR Athlete Tara Skinne
By: Mark Barroso
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A part-time sales associate, Skinner has been hooked on running OCRs and 5K road races ever since earning her first medal at Tuxedo. In 2016, the New York resident could be found at Spartan Races, Rugged Manic, Mudman X, Terrain Race, and more. Her reasoning for trudging through mud and running through the woods on the weekends stems from her dramatic weight loss.
“I continue to do OCRs to prove to myself that I can and I continue to improve,” Skinner says. “I’m amazed at the stuff that I can do now because for so long I couldn’t do anything since I used to be so heavy. It’s just something I’m doing for me.”
120 POUNDS DOWN AND COUNTING
“I couldn’t do much with my kids, such as run around and chase them and I’d get winded just walking up and down the steps,” says Skinner. “My daughter was teased in school about me being heavy so that was something that pushed me too. I wanted to be more active with my kids and family.”
Skinner elected to have surgery to start her weight loss journey.
“I researched gastric bypass surgery and my doctor had mentioned it to me too,” Skinner says. “I love talking about it because people wonder, ‘Should we give credit for that?’ and I always say it was a tool: it helped me lose the weight.’”
That surgery was in 2005 and within the first year Skinner had lost 100 pounds then she shed another 20 pounds through diet and exercise. Now, she’s been maintaining and building muscle by weightlifting.
“The surgery is part of my transformation but it’s not the whole thing,” says Skinner. “Making sure I eat the right thing, exercising and doing these races is all me. Once you lose the initial weight, it’s on you to keep it off.”
Diet-wise, Skinner has had to made some adjustments as a result of gastric bypass surgery. She still can’t stomach milk, ice cream, rice or pasta since the foods get stuck and come right back up. Her body has a diabetes-type reaction to sugar-tiredness, yawning and runny nose-and she feels the effects of alcohol quickly because it gets absorbed into the bloodstream rapidly.
“I eat a lot of eggs and protein shakes and when I eat out, I order off the appetizer menu because I know I won’t finish an entire entrée,” Skinner adds.
Nowadays, Skinner does train for OCRs and she’s a member of H.U.R.T. Performance in Blooming Grove, NY, a strongman-inspired gym with atlas stones and heavy logs. The Rapid Force brand ambassador trains three times a week: one week is for weightlifting, the next week is for functional training. A sample day of training includes dumbbell sissy squats, pushups, stiff-legged deadlifts, and bench presses.
“I’ve seen such a difference in my body, with the muscles and toning,” Skinner says. “It’s really helped with my racing.”
“The second to last climb at Tuxedo I stopped and I thought, ‘I can’t even go anymore,’” says Skinner. “I happen to be with a team of four other women and they were like ‘You got this, keep going.’ I thought to myself, ‘Yes, you can do this. Don’t stop because you’re tired, stop because you’re done.’”
In the gym, Skinner’s biggest accomplishment is a 265lb Romanian deadlift, which was extra satisfying since instead of seeing that number on a scale, it was on a barbell. Outside of the gym, Skinner shines on the theater stage.
“I’m doing a musical the day of Civilian Military Combine and I’ve been dancing and acting during rehearsal every night which is great because it’s another form of exercise,” Skinner adds.
In a scenario that OCR has become known for, Skinner has run OCRs with her daughter, 19, and one of her sons who’s 14.
“They’re very proud but they are teenagers so they won’t come right out and say it,” Skinner says. “When I show them my photos and videos, I can tell they’re proud and my daughter puts up photos online. My husband is the proudest, he is my biggest fan.”
Skinner’s story represents the fact that no challenge is too big to overcome. It’s also a reminder that the mind is an incredible tool. It was only a matter of time before Skinner would find out about OCR and thrive on challenging herself. Getting enjoyment out of overcoming obstacles, both in life and man-made ones, is a trait you’ll find across the skill-level spectrum in OCR.
“It’s never too late to start something and I’ll be doing my toughest race right around the time I turn 40,” says Skinner. “There’s always a way to accomplish your goals.”
Favorite OCR course so far: Rugged Maniac in Englishtown, NJ
Fun Fact: Appeared on Rachel Ray Show in 2007 and Tyra Banks Show in 2008