To say Bec Wilcock likes a challenge would be a gross understatement.
The Aussie Ultramarathoner, Nike Running Coach, and Ladder Athlete has competed in some of the most grueling ultramarathons. That includes the infamous Barkley 100, a race deemed the “toughest in the world.” How tough? Only 15 men have ever finished since the race started in 1986. If that doesn’t sound ambitious enough, she and a team of six women now hold the fastest female record for the The Speed Project—a 340-mile nonstop relay race through the desert from LA to Vegas.
In a word, Bec is tough. But, it doesn’t stop at her ability to push herself physically. When asked about how she dealt with being diagnosed with Acidic Cell Carcinoma, a rare cancerous tumor, just after her son’s first birthday, Bec referred to this time as a “hiccup” and signed up for the Barkley 100 the day she went into her final surgery.
Running isn’t just a career for Bec, “It’s the one thing that has helped me get through all the challenges I’ve endured in my life.” To most, running a 100-mile race through the Tennessee wilderness after overcoming cancer sounds like a twisted prompt from a “would you rather" game, but to Bec Wilcock, "...it was my way of telling myself I'm going to get through this and I'm going to get to that starting line."
We got the chance to sit down with Bec and chat running, motherhood, cheat meals, and fitness tips. Here’s what she had to say.
Training females and young girls, in particular, is a passion of yours. HER (Here We Run) is a non-profit female running group you founded. Can you talk about the motivation behind starting HER?
Women are a very different type of athlete than men. Back in the day, many coaches didn't know the differences, and it’s unfortunate because you’re not learning your full potential as a woman.
I started HER to help women be the best version of themselves. The biggest training difference, in comparison to men, is the hormonal changes and different life events as a female. A lot of women worry about getting their period on race day but you can learn how to train your body to benefit from your high hormonal phase and actually perform stronger during your cycle.
What tip would you give runners who are trying to increase their mileage?
If you’re just starting as a beginner, don’t be too hard on yourself. Start small and develop your own consistency. Run 1-minute on, 1-minute off, and then work your way up to 5 minutes. And then, as soon as you can, get yourself to running for 20 minutes. Try and run for 20 minutes three times a week. Whatever you do, don’t run once a week—consistency is key!
Running fitness is completely different to any other type of fitness. If you don’t run consistently then you will forget that you are a runner.
How do you bounce back from a race where you don’t perform your best?
It’s always about the journey of training up until your peak performance. Regardless of whether you finish, or the result on that one day, the journey made me who I am today.
I think your failures definitely make you stronger.
As athletes, that’s one thing we should be focusing on—performing every day to be our best. Because one bad game, or one bad run, doesn't define who you are, it’s the courage and the discipline you bring every day that defines you.
How did pregnancy change you as an athlete?
I came back from having a baby, and I felt like a superhero. Pregnancy taught me how to be kind to my body, and how to appreciate everything that it can do—including growing a human!
What about your mindset? Are there takeaways you got from being pregnant that you can share with anyone on a fitness journey? Mindset is key during pregnancy, especially your first, as no one can really explain to you what’s about to happen—every day is a mystery. Your body changes so much and you have to surrender to the beauty of pregnancy.
It reminded me that any growth in a challenging training program, where you don’t think you can make it and you hit a wall, and you’re like, “I definitely am not going to make this,” but you keep at it. And then, all of a sudden, you’re at the other end. You’re climbing a Ladder. It’s like, “I made that. I can do anything now.”
What’s your favorite Ladder supplement?
I like Chocolate Plant Protein with the Superfood Greens. Greens has everything you need and you can just pop it in the smoothie with the Chocolate Plant Protein, blueberries, almond milk, bananas, and acai and you’re getting all the nutrients and you don’t even know.
If you had just 20 minutes to workout—no equipment—what would it be?
A speed run finished with 3 bodyweight tabata sets.
So I’d do 20 seconds full speed as fast as I can, 40-second jog for 10 minutes. Then, flip it and do 40 seconds full-speed run, 20 seconds jog for 5 minutes.Then, I would do a tabata set of body weight and superset it. So a lower body plyo like a reverse lunge and lunge jump and then flip those in a tabata set.
Any tips for runners struggling to maintain motivation at this time when group runs and races are postponed?
It’s hard to continue that motivation, especially when you’re training alone. Make sure you have your workouts scheduled like you would any other meeting so you don't miss it. And, having an end goal that’s tangible really helps. Start building toward something that at the end of it you’re still going to achieve something that’s measurable.
Gluten-free pizza from D’amore’s—love me a pizza and red wine night!
The song on your workout playlist you can’t get enough of right now.
Drake’s “Tousie Slide” and “NonStop”.
Recent Netflix binge.
I don’t watch TV. Because I get so into it that I’ll have to watch the entire thing and I wouldn’t sleep until I finish!
If you could train with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Kelly Slater, The Rock, and Bear Grills.