The Race | Obea Moore

Obea Moore is the literal definition of “chasing after your dreams.”  Running since he was just 8 years old, it’s no surprise that Obea is one of the best youth talents to ever hit the track. He built numerous accolades to his track and field resume including setting his first record in the 9-10 age division. And that certainly wasn’t the last.

Unfortunately, Obea admits that all of the early success kind of went to his head and he had to learn (the hard way) the importance of treating your body and mind right as an athlete.  The lessons learned here certainly did not go to waste. At the age of 39, he doesn’t compete but he now uses his talents combined with his personal experiences to help bring out the best in other young athletes. And while he’s still one of the fastest youth track and field talents to ever hit the track, he is now one of the wisest men as well which not only makes him an awesome athlete, but also a wonderful coach!

Having the pleasure of speaking with the legend himself, I learned a lot of the intimate details of Obea’s rise, fall, and comeback! Being completely open and honest, he was willing to share the real story of who he was and who he is today!

The Rise

Obea got his start in California. At the age of 8, he moved to Pasadena where he ran track 6 months out of the year and also played soccer. But his passion for track was undeniable. It wasn’t just something fun to do for recreation. From the age of just 8, Obea was very serious about his trainings in track.

Me : Do you remember what kind of training you were doing back then, when you were little?

Obea: Well, of course we started of with basic warm up, which is a mile and stretch. Then we moved on to drills. We started of with three 800’s.

Me: So, were you also running 400’s back then too?

Obea: Yes, I ran everything from the mile to the 100’s. Everyone on the team had to do that though. It was our base training. The way that coach James (his coach at the time) set things up was sort of like a pyramid. We started off at 800’s then worked our way down. But this was just my first two years. Once I became a midget (11-12 age group), he added more base. It increased to starting at a mile and by the time I was in high school, the base was at 2 miles.

All in all Obea underwent a lot of training. But the more he trained the better he became. The training pushed him to get better and better with each race and starting with so much natural talent, it’s no wonder why he was nearly unbeatable on the track and set so many records!

The Fall

Because he was such a beast on the field, Obea was immensely popular in the track and field world. Pretty much celebrity status. Obea admits he got a little side tracked by all the attention. And not only did he lose focus mentally, but he also didn’t take care of himself to the fullest, physically.  A combination of the two eventually lead him to sustain a pretty bad injury his senior year and boom, just like that life, as Obea knew it, had changed.

Me: In what ways do you think that you could have improved your training over the years to maybe reduce the chances of you getting injured?

Obea: Well, I didn’t lift weights. I didn’t have a nutritionist. And I think I ran a little too much. I also feel I should have worked a little more on my base when I was 16. While I was good I could have been better, but you can only improve that with high intensity speed training.

Me: Is there anything you know now, that you could have applied to your training back then?

Obea: Yes, ‘the importance of finding an overall balance. You can have all the talent, but eventually it’s going to taper off somewhere. You need a nutritionist, or at least some nutrition education to implement. You need your massage therapist. You need ice baths. I now even practice yoga which would have allowed me to be more flexible back then. But back then we weren’t doing those things

The Comeback

Although after having to take a break from the track Obea’s life changed, it certainly wasn’t for the worst. Coming back stronger than ever, Obea used his experiences to get back on the field in a different way. Stronger and wiser, he now had the makings of a great coach and that’s where he realized where his life’s calling was.

For someone to have and lose it all on the track means he’s knows the up and downs of being a track star. Not only can he help to make young athletes faster and more efficient on the track, but he can also prevent them from making many of the same mistakes he did. His genuine love of track and passion for helping young, up and coming athletes makes him so relatable to the ones he teaches and an amazing role model.

Me: What is something different that you notice young track runners do in there training that is different from how you trained when you were young?

Obea: The one key difference that I see is that there isn’t much high intensity speed training. The focus isn’t really on starting from the base anymore and that’s why we don’t see much improvement in high school track athletes anymore. Back in the day, you ran the first 200, take a breather then ran again. We don’t see that anymore. The only person who did it in the last 20 years is the guy that broke the record from South Africa and I believe he only did it because he was running scared in lane 8. You also don’t see the kids doubling up anymore because they’re not putting in the high intensity speed training to hold their speed.

Me: When it comes to the different types of training, do you think you have to choose a certain type and focus on it or can you take bits and pieces from different types?

Obea: If we want to push the envelope of human potential, then no you don’t have to choose. But I feel my training team knows what works and the standard training pattern now doesn’t work. You have so many people on steroids now [ trying to go with power over speed] and that doesn’t work. You have so many people focused on specialization and the times just doesn’t translate over. We’re not improving, especially in the US, so it has to be something wrong and there’s nothing new under the sun. If there’s nothing new over the sun, it won’t work. We see it on the collegiate level, the high school level and even on the professional level and it’s just not working. We’re not setting a new standard for track and field. And that’s where my team steps in and is trying to find better ways to improve.

Me: What is your overall goal for helping the young athletes of the future?

Obea: We want to develop a whole new philosophy for these children. Yea, the average kid may just want the scholarship and go to school. But when we talk about breaking world records and changing the paradigm, we need a whole new philosophy.

Obea shows us that track is much more than just a sport. In order to really succeed, you need more than just talent. Hard work, focus and taking care of your body are all major factors to achieving true success. And that’s the case for any aspect of health and fitness. While track is his specialty, we can all learn a thing or two from Obea’s experience and ultimately find our way to push our performance and athletic limits.

Obea Moore