Obstacle running

Over 40’s Spartan race preparations.

Obstacle course racing

It was on the eve of my next Spartan race that I was feeling typically anxious about the next day’s event. You see this time we were tackling the Spartan Beast race.( http://spartanrace.com.au/ ) A well designed challenge that entails a half marathon distance of 21klm of mostly trail running along with over 25+ obstacles spread out over the field that need to be negotiated  and completed.  Otherwise the price of failure is to knock of 30 burpee’s as your standard penalty. All this with no map supplied or markers indication distance covered. Spartan organisers are notorious in not providing specific race detail so be prepared. It’s part of the appeal.

Age (I’m 47) should not be a barrier, so I’m not going to be constantly reminding you of your age, I’s just a matter of continuing to do the basics over the long term and stay on track. Consistency is the key. Quite simply, I’ve prepared myself on a diet of Trail running supported by an all over simple strength training program and complimented along the way with regular mobility and stretch drills. And i do mean regular! It pays to get the body resilient enough to endure the Beast run.  For us older runners we need to take into account the additional recovery cost when planning for these types of events. We need more time resting, not smashing ourselves with the typical fitness industry thinking of go hard or go home. Take this approach and you will definately be staying home – broken.

It’s been a long process along the way with plenty of running and general physical conditioning in prepping for this unique event. Previously we have tackled the shorter sprint event of 7klm (yeah they call the 7klm option a sprint) and then progressed over to the super which is their 14lklm version. One thing is for sure, they are both challenging in their particular ways.

Sleep / Recovery

I’ve made this point first as this is a critical part of the plan for everyone so I cannot stress it enough when it come to the older folk. I manage to get the standard 8 hours and take a nap whenever possible (mostly weekend on the sofa while the kids are watching telly – yeah I’m also a great parent!) Sleep is one of the best forms of recovery and allows the body to repair itself from the toll it took over the day. So get some sleep, plenty of it.

Apologies to those with newborns, sleep is not an option is it?

General physical Preparation

As with most things in life preparation is the key to achieving results. You either plan to achieve or plan to fail. The previously mentioned running and supporting resistance training was kept rather basis in its approach but I was consistent in applying it to the training week.  The template is as follows.

Monday – Light Kettlebell work focusing on mostly mobility.

Tuesday -10klm road – light

Wednesday – 10-15 klm Road – medium

Thursday – Pulls, press, chins, squats & core

Friday – 10klm road – medium

Saturday – Rest day (mobility)

Sunday – 20klm road/trial mix – light/medium

Spartan specific training

Over the last 3 months I’ve averaged 200klm per month of running both road and trail and kept the resistance training moderate depending on how I pulled up post runs. Unfortunately at Claudefit Personal training I’m not able replicate the 12 Ft wall climbing challenge, crawling over mud under barb wire, and climbing the new tower obstacles that Spartan rolled out on the day. My approach was simply to get the body resilient enough to cop what-ever Spartan threw at us and come out of it unscathed. It’s was just a matter of getting the body resilient, develop solid grip strength, be able to move well and turn up fit enough. Glad to report our goal was achieved. The Spartan part of the program was getting some playtime with crawling, rope climbing and bodyweight training. Basically to complete a Spartan you need to RUN, carry your bodyweight over obstacle and be flexible enough to not pull any muscles (I’m talking to you old fella) when negotiation the various tasks. The rest of any specific training is the icing on the cake. For those of you who have the time to build you own obstacle course, go for it and enjoy.

Race day

Once you arrive at the venue there are a few items that you should have packed for the event. A quick mention here as it will ensure that post event you are well organised and not suffer due to a lack of proper and adequate nutrition, dry clothing and comfort. Your race day bag/kit should have:  A large towel, spare socks, jocks and shoes, warm clothing, water, muddy clothing bag, cash for food and merchandise (yeah you’ll want the beanie), hat and a proper post event meal as you will be ravenous post run. I’m been pedantic here so don’t mind me if you wish to walk around in muddy , wet and uncomfortable clothing after you have run the beast ( 21Klms) You will have enough to deal with once done – You might as well be comfortable.

Stretching/mobility

My go to movement here have been a staple for several month. I’ve pinched these straight out of Kelly Starrett’s book  Ready to Run. I’ve build up to 2 minutes each side with the following. Hip flexion, hip extension, and squat hold. in addition for my shoulder blades , I just hang of the chin up bar. Have also added leg swings as my only movement pre-running. This has all added up well for me as my body while still fatigued from my running no longer feels painfully stiff around the hip and legs. I simply apply the following stretches post run and on the days off I manage to increase the time under tension. It all adds up folks so make this a part of the program. It won’t feel like much when you are supple and mobile, however neglecting these will clearly show up on the day. “Don’t be that guy”

Nutrition

Just as important as rest. let go over nutrition.

Keep-it-simple! No fancy, expensive, special or secret eating going on here. Please keep the following in mind when preparing your meals for all you nutritional requirements. It’s just matter of balancing out the energy requirement when you exercise and not overdoing it when you are not active. In other words, only eat what you need and eat well. Post event run reward yourself with the pizza or burger if you wish. First things first. Ensure that most of your nutrition leading up to the event was wholesome, good quality and eliminated the junk.

Keep it simple plan:

Water, Protein with every meal, Monitor carbohydrates, Eliminate sugar, No alcohol, Vegetables, Some fruit and Consume good fats.

In summary you need to have a sound cardiovascular base, solid all over strength and be flexible enough to manoeuvre your body through the course. It’s just that it takes a well-planned program to achieve a good balance in getting the 3 elements to work together. As you are an older athlete I’m sure your experience will allow you to take a common sense approach and take it in well.

See you at the start line.

Claudefit is an active personal trainer who enjoys trail running and the fun of participating in obstacles races for fitness and general health. Don’t let age be a barrier and let the younger folk have all the fun. Venture out, take control and enjoy yourself all while being pain and injury free.

We survived another Spartan race

Spartan Super recap

Congratulation to both my running buddies Kaan and Shai in once again managing to conquer what those crazy folk at Spartan threw at us during the recent 14klm super held way out in Mymiong. A brilliant location for this type of (obstacle )course event held on the grounds of Lake Dewar lodge run by the YMCA.  This third time around we were more prepared before as you would expect if you had put in the training, which we did.

I’m lucky enough to back onto the local plenty valley reserve that has enough kilometres of single tracks and dirt roads that prepared us well for the off road running based Spartan super so for the last couple of months we have all incorporated a big chunk of our running kilometres towards trial running. Fortunately for us all the base training clearly showed on the day as Spartan races are not held on the roads.

They are held over singe tracks, paddocks, muddy sections, hills and occasionally involves a bit of swimming across dams and short lake crossing.

Tip: Get some serious trail klm’s under your belt. and learn to swim.

In addition to the road /Trail running program the general physical preparation with the resistance training added the extra touch to negotiate ourselves through the lifting/holding/carrying challenges we faced. Keep in mind that you are actually racing towards these obstacles you can’t really slow down to rest too much.  After all it is a race.

The folk at Spartan don’t release the course, it’s part of the appeal. If you are not happy with this I suggest you stick to entering 5klm fun run 8 month from now where you get a course map and take as many selfies as you want.

After having discussions with my team post-race it was clear that a few of the obstacles were a little more challenging for us as the others that we simply ran through. The list below is the ones we had to pay extra attention too as they were clear road blocks in running a quicker time around the course.

  • Sandbag carry – This one was as is described. You had to pick up a sandbag (20-25kgs I believe) then march downhill for about 500 metres , under a fence and then back up again. Clearly there was no racing or sprinting going on here. The legs were pounded while the core got its fair share of loading. Pity the person who chooses to carry it without the proper balance. Your physio will be pleased.
  • Various walls – In previous events I had simply taken a run up and managed to get my hand over to the top of the wall, got the leg over and got across. This time around I wasn’t as lucky as we had just run an uphill section of the track and then copped this at the worst part. Thanks Spartan. At my age the legs didn’t have the spring or the sprint in them so made a new friend quickly who helped out.
  • Dead ball carry – This one’s a killer!!! It requires you to pick up a 55kg dead ball that is somewhat difficult to handle, run with it around a maker and then place it back where you found it. Sounds simple? Ask your body how it feels when you start to run again straight after the effort taken and get back to me. Look up Iron edge equipment suppliers if this is something of interest.
  • Monkey bars – Ahhhhh the monkey bars, a nasty little obstacle that too many of us who don’t possess the ability to do either a chin up or simply hold onto your bodyweight find a challenge. A fundamental requirement of Spartan is the ability to manoeuvre your body around the obstacles requiring your bodyweight training approach is sound. We use bars often and I personally take my kids down to the park for extra “secret training” You dealt with them in the school ground so now you have to deal with then in the Spartan race as an adult.
  • Rope climb/Traverse – I left the best until last and included the two. Look at it this way, two for the price of one. If you are thinking about doing any spartan races you need to be able to both climb up a rope ring the bell at the top and then on the next rope obstacle and be able to traverse along what seems a lengthy distance in order to collect you well-earned medal. I’m proud to say that by the time I got to this last obstacle I managed to hang on and make it until the end. The price to pay was a set of burning shoulder and arms along with a slightly scratched pair of calves. Quite happy to pay the price again as I didn’t drop off like some other poor younger folk did!

Spartan Kids – A special mention should go to the kids who also participated in this even. There were two aged group waves that looked after the little ones, my 6 & 9 years old’s both participated and undoubtedly enjoyed themselves.  A must if you want your kids to get involved. Bring a change of clothes for them.

All in all we had plenty of fun this time around and will definitely take on the next challenge that I believe is the Spartan Beast. A mere 20klms+.

For now we are still training for the next running trail event. This time were going to tackle the Salomon run series held around four local and regional locations involving a variety of running distances.  No obstacles this time around, just a lot of natural hills, creeks and plenty of single tracks.

Arooooo!

Claudefit is a private gym conveniently located near plenty gorge Mill Park.

Spartan Super 2015 – Here we go again!

Spartan Fit

It’s been while since we ran our last Spartan race and from what I recollect it was the Spartan sprint covering approximately 7 klm’s along paddocks, , bush, shallow creeks , hilly terrain and swimming across dams all while busy running against other like minded individuals in getting to the next obstacle first in the hope of surviving it till the end. I did say the 7 klm was a sprint didn’t I? Yeah that’s what the folk over at Spartan call it.

This time around  we are back wiser, ready to go and I guess since I promote myself as a fitness trainer are more prepared than our previous race. However the test this time in training for this event is a mere 14klms, twice the fun I reckon. Ask me at the end and I will most likely tell you it was twice the torture. Depends on your point of reference I guess.

Here is a quick summary of the training (suitable for the recreational participant) and an overall approach we have taken in preparation for this challenging and very much and enjoyable event.  Let’s tackle the individual components that you need to cover in order to make it through safe, injury free and able to enjoy the post event celebration knowing you met the challenge and got though unscathed. AROO!

The Running part

First and foremost this event like most obstacle events is predominantly running. That’s right, Running and lots of it. Given any Spartan race it easily takes up 80% of the effort required in getting across the line for that coveted event t-shirt , participant medal or for some it’s the hard earned beer waiting for you after crossing the finish line.

This is the single component that usually gets to most of the participants. Not the Burpees because people cheat on them. You need to be able to run and run well as you can’t cheat 14klms.

The undulating nature of the course requires you to adapt to the terrain and if you are not familiar with trail running you will suffer as I speak from personal experience. In last year’s 7klm spring Spartan I already had a solid road running base of 40-50klm average a week in addition to my weight based workouts. Unfortunately my over excitement and lack of understanding of the course basically blew my running motor within the first klm and took me another 2 klms before I recovered, ran with composure and settled into pace all while having to tackle the obstacles as they presented themselves. although I managed  respectable time, I knew that I could have prepared better. Rookie mistake.

Our solution: We have now been running trails on a regular basis and have become familiar with this type of running and will now tackle the longer event with a bit more experience and focus on keeping a solid pace and negotiating the obstacles with minimum energy expenditure. (Yeah, we did the work) A solid 8klm + run would be ideal as a minimum base to finish the course ,( expect to walk) however if you are keen and well planned a Road base of 10 klm plus with a few trial runs thrown in would just get you by.

If you are fortunate enough to be close to a trail, I suggest you tackle it often.

Weight training & Conditioning

This time around we have focused out attention to preparing the body for the assault as opposed to preparing for the obstacles on an individual basis. Why? It’s better to focus on preparing your own body in getting stronger, fitter and resilient to be able to withstand the challenge than simply focusing on one or two obstacles that will come up such as the dreaded rope climb and surprisingly difficult dead ball deadlift.

Spartan has a way of throwing in obstacles that challenge the strongest and fastest regardless of the specific training you do. Better to prepare the body. Get stronger, build you grip strength, core and be able to both carry heavy and lift heavy objects and you should be fine. Spartan doesn’t release the course until the last few days of the event. It part of the appeal.

I must add that there are several standard obstacles that will be there waiting for the regular Spartan hopefuls. Look up the Spartan website for more information. www.spartan.com.au  the interesting ones are the new ones that pop up. So be ready.

The focus on the major lifts was what we all (clients) trained with.  We ate up lifts such as Barbell Standing military press, Bench press, Squats, Deadlifts & Bent over rows. What more can you say when you have program that involves these old school and very effective exercises. They will get you strong and prepare your strength base for life and everything else.  That’s another story.

The other tools used were Kettlebells for conditioning because they work,  exercises like the swing , cleans and renegade rows were a staple along with basic bodyweight movements involving the always reliable chin up/ pull up ( do both . they both work!) crawling and handstand play. For variation we chucked in Rope climbs and sandbag drills. The ability to “chuck a leg over the fence” will also be required as I find that most who don’t have flexibility with this movement find out the hard way and looks painful! You have been warned.

The bottom line is that we have been consistent and trained smart. As with most things related to fitness and OCR events the primary objective of the training should be to prepare the body to successfully complete the event. Everything else is a bonus.

Planning and application

You need to have a plan that you actually implement and you need to take the right mental application. I’ve mentioned this as I unfortunately see several individuals not complete the course due to their inability to have the will finish what they started. Experience should tell you the better you prepare for this or any other event the better it is on the day. If you turn up underdone you will make it harder than it needs to be and will most likely give up or worse , suffer an avoidable injury.

The common factor here is that sometimes people simply just turn up on the day and think because they’ll can run 5 klm around the block at home ,do a spin class, body pump and bench press on Monday they think that they will be right on the day. Spartan Races are advertised as a race and it doesn’t forgive lack of preparation.

IMO the positive’s here is that if you sign up for an event you have committed to do it. And do you should be able to do it well. Like most of my client’s requirements if they approach their goals with the proper mental application, goals like weight loss, muscle gain, strength gains and improvement in their overall fitness will happen. Funny that.

If you plan well and  commit to your training, eat well and get enough rest, there is no reason for you to turn up unprepared, out of shape and put yourself through this event not quite 100%. It’s hard enough as it is being prepared so why disadvantage yourself before you get there.

As I say often to my client ( on my soapbox) whether you do a trial run, fun run, Spartan, TM or any other event. A lack of preparation will show up on the day. So plan well, implement you plan and give yourself the best opportunity to not only conquer the Spartan Course but know that you can do anything.

See you on the course. Aroo!!!

Claudefit is a personal fitness trainer based in Mill Park.

Tough Mudder preparation

Tough Mudder fun

So you think you are ready for the tough mudder experience do you? Well great. The first part about entering this great event is the decision to give it a try and work towards completing the challenging 20klm long course in tackling approximately 20 or so obstacles. It’s your decision.

At Claudefit we think the TM is a great way to work towards your all over fitness , weigh loss and is a great motivator once you and your team have put the money down and all have a clear focus on what’s coming up. It’s amazing how much ownership you take once you put a cost to it.

Out team here at Claude fit has now participated in 3 of these events and we are proud of the fact that in the second and third one we have always included newbie’s who have managed to complete it unscathed. No major injuries and a lot of fun had. I myself mostly enjoy the satisfied look of all my clients when they cross the finish line looking tired, covered in mud, soggy socks and a great individual story to tell.

So how do you prepare for Tough Mudder?

It’s pretty clear that in order to complete the TM you will need to have a solid running base that will get the job done. Now before you think that you can’t run 20klm think about the fact that you will be running from obstacle to obstacle and then stop (rest) negotiate the obstacle, wait for you team members and continue to run. As this is NOT a race the pace generally is kept by the slowest member of the group. TM encourages team work so don’t think that this is a fun run style set up where you are continuously running.

What you do need IMO is a solid minimum base of around 7-10 klm’s that will get the job done. Prior to the first TM I myself recorded my longest continual run at 11.5 klm. This was enough for me to get by. Now that I’m a regular runner the TM doesn’t really pose that much of a concern with distance. As the stop start nature of the event is great for recovery. So get running.

The obstacles are reasonable for anyone with an average base of fitness. Unlike other event you do not have to do all of them if you are intimidated or simply think they are out of your capabilities. It’s all right, just rest while the others in your team give it a go, then re-group and continue onto the next one. This is what TM is all about – Teamwork.

Without going over the entire obstacle that you will encounter (TM changes a few anyway) let’s go over the basic strength that you need to successfully cover the course.

  • You need to be able to pull your bodyweight up – whether it be climbing over the 3meter wall or getting over the rows of mud moulds, you need the strength and flexibility to get that leg over in making it through/over.
  • The ability to trudge through ankle deep mud for over 500 metres is also essential. Fit enough to do it and well balanced. Expect to fall on your butt and get covered in mud. Guaranteed.
  • A decent center of gravity is required and most of the obstacles require you to have good balance as part of the challenge. For example the balance beams are great. TM mudder also nails old tyres to logs that you have to walk around. Expect to get wet if you fall.
  • Have a decent sprint in your armoury. In order to get up to the top of Everest you need to have a bit of get up and go and sprint full on towards the ramp. (Think skateboard ¼ pipe here) Many don’t quite make it even when a helping hand is waiting to meet you half way. This one was frustration to the ladies in out group.  A few sprints in your training will certainly help out.
  • Hanging strength. The monkey bars are a bit of a novelty during TM. It’s one of the more well know obstacles where the set up allows for many rows of bars to keep everyone moving along. Basic holding strength and knowing how to move come in handy. At Claudefit the pull up is a as staple here so the holding strength should pose no problem. However with all things related to TM, you will have tired and slippery hands by the time you get to this obstacle. In the past we cop it around the 18klm mark.

The event is quite achievable for most as it attracts people of all shapes and sizes and is a well run safe event. It’s really suited t all types. You only need to want to give it a go.

One of my clients didn’t quite get by all the obstacles , however was thrilled that his body was able to at least take part and surprise himself with what he did. That what is t all about

Participating, challenging you and having a hell of a time.

See you in the mud.

 

Go here for my Obstacle course Page

Spartan race preparation

Spartan is a race

I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in two of these unique evens in both the 14klm Spartan Super and now recently completed the 7klm Spartan Sprint. Both are catered to the same crowd and quite smartly linked together as a package to ultimately be called the ultimate Spartan. There is another longer 20klm + race that I’m yet to partake in appropriately called the Spartan Beast.

In addition I’ve run my own personal training team/groups over 3 tough mudder’s and have incurred more mud and  bruises on my body now that in my whole weigh training experience.

In order to properly prepare for these events one thing is clear. First and foremost this is a running event. Yes it’s referred to as an obstacle course for some. But be under no illusion. You have to run. And since it’s called a race. You have to run at pace.

Similar to a fun run you are provided with a race bib and more importantly a timing chip. That’s right. you will find out how you fared pretty much straight away, as on crossing the finish line you collect your participant medal, you free t-shirt, a beer (if you want one at 9am in the morning) and then check you race time.  This is a great way to establish who is superior with you mates and makes it fair to those who were starting out on a different wave time.

Quite competitive for some and a lot of fun for all.

Spartan preparation

So how do I get ready for this event I hear you ask? Number one in my opinion is to have a plan of what you are going to do and stick to it. You need to know what lies ahead and not just turn up on the day and have a crack! It’s all experience. You can even hire a trainer who has done it before and can get you  to the starting line ready to go , fit, strong and knowing what’s coming up.

Number one on the hit list is Running. You need to be able to run on uneven terrain, across cow paddocks (no cows at event) up dry creeks, down slippery slopes and generally anything that the great Australian bush throws at you. The only assistance you get is a marker leading you to the net obstacle.

Here’s a few of the obstacles I encountered and the suggested required preparation, the 5 are only my own most memorable obstacles you will be challenged to negotiate and get by. Should you choose not to try or unfortunately fail. You will be penalised 30 burpees. So either get accustomed in performing this wicked little exercise or do the right thing and get prepared. Either way, you are going to get it. (Insert evil laugh here)

 

  • Deadlifting the 55kg Deadball and walk – pretty much self explanatory , you get to the Deadball which is basically a flat plastic ball filled with 55kg for men folk and 35kg for the Spartan ladies. You pick it up and then have to carry it for distance and place it back to where you found it. Simple, not easy. This is where your Deadlift strength and bottom position of the squat comes into play.
  • The Sandbag carry – Again the weight of the equipment is 20-25 kg’s for the men and I believe 1o kg for the ladies. On my last Spartan event we had to carry the sandbag uphill around the tree on top of hill and return it back. On my second Spartan, we actually had to carry it down hill first and then back up. Same but different I reckon. Still the same effect. Add running to and from this obstacles and you start to appreciate what just happened. Learn how to shoulder a sandbag , work on shoulder stability and work your core.
  • Wall climb – This for me was simply out of the question, with a height of 174 cm and a bodyweight of 79kg and been old. I just dont have the get up and go to get my hand over the 2m+ wall from a run up – I wish! Solution. Quickly find a new buddy and ask for help. Don’t forget to offer hand in helping them, once the obstacles is complete run as you have paid the price and earned the right to continue alone. The wall climb basically required pulling strength and a bit of flexibility work to get the leg over. If you are no longer a spring chicken tread carefully as this is one of the common injuries in getting over the wall. A lack of hip & inner thigh flexibility.
  • Traversing the rope / rope climb – yeah I know I’ve put two items under rope. It’s because once you get accustomed to handling your bodyweight in the rope climb it stands to reason why you wouldn’t want to traverse along the rope from one end to another. ( it’s just fun)It was a safe obstacle during the sprint as the possible fall was only about 9 feet and you landed on an oversized pillow. Think jumping castle floor here! For some this one’s quite hard as from what I saw with a first timers and would be Spartans. Quite humbling when you don’t know how to move. The other rope option is the always troublesome rope climb. Never underestimate the power to pull yourself up. With and adequate level of pulling power and solid grip strength up you go it would seem. Remember once again you will most likely be running prior to tackling an obstacle so you will be tired, wet, have slippery hands and then need to get to the top to ring the bell to make it legit. (And pose for photo) The crowd that gathers here is always willing to provide you with a ready made cheer squad! We cover this in my facility in always having the rope handy for you to play with. So by the time you hit it at the event. It’s all been done before. So plan ahead.
  • Horizontal wall traverse – This one’s is my favourite as my kids have called It the ninja walk (as seen on ninja warrior program) it requires a great level of grip strength, great co ordination, solid core strength. With an understanding of having at least a basics 3 point contact at all times you can certainly negotiate this one well. Should you be carrying a little more girth than others that pushes you away from the wall, have poor coordination and really never worked you grip strength. I suggest you work on burpess.

The little wooden block that you both stand and hold on to is about 5-10 inches long and about 1-1/2 inched wid. Again watch out for slippery hands and shoes. How we train this at Clausefit is simple. Get you grip strength up and slowly transfer the weight onto the fingers. Along with rope pull ups should do the trick. The rest is just about being naturally co ordinate. Helps to be lean.  

Other obstacles to mention were the Balance Beams, Swimming the dam, Kettlebell on a rope, Spear throw, Tire pull on rope, Concrete block drag and the famous last one ,the Fire jump.

By now two things should be obvious. You are either fired up to give it a go yourself, or you have pulled your head back into its shell and retreated.  It’s this type of event.

Perhaps a friendlier fun run is in order for now. A long as you move you will do well. But don’t give up.

At Claudefit personal training the obstacle events like Spartan and tough Mudder are what some clients use to keep them motivated in reaching their goals. So if you are interested let us know. We are always keen to get others involved in joining the fun.

Go here for my Obstacle course event page.

Go here for my Conditioning options page.

Spartan ready, Aussie style.

Well it’s getting close to the Spartan race again for here in Victoria so suit up, grab your gear and head out to the bush! It’s time to run and get dirty!

For those few fitness enthusiasts who are wondering what a Spartan race is and why you should do it? Well its simple. It’s there to be conquered and for this old man, a mental, strength and conditioning litmus test to go by. That’s all really, oh and you get a t-shirt (can’t miss the ever important event t-shirt can we?) a rather cool looking medal that you receive as a participant and in true Aussie fashion, a Beer. Please don’t confuse this medal with a winner’s medal.  It is simply a verification of an event you participated in and survived unscathed. Still it’s a rather cool piece to collect and shows off the accomplishment in completing this rather challenging event.  For others, it’s an important keepsake to remind then how awesome they were, or something to talk up.

Spartan is a race over several challenging obstacles through muddy water, shrubs, hills, in tackling obstacles where you are required to lift heavy awkward items, lift them onto shoulders, run up and down a hill, swim across a small dam, drag a 5kg+ cement block attached to a rope, and finally climb a rope to ring the bell at the top. Phew! (and don’t forget to pose for the photo) You might even see a Kettlebell here and there!

If that’s not enough you are made to perform 30 burpees if you fail or decline the invitation to negotiate any obstacles. And believe me the burpee debt will be paid.

The training for an obstacle course is quite simple yet effective if done well. Not to be confused with easy. First of all find out what type of movements, lifts and challenges are required and get started. The first one clearly is Running.  Make no mistake, this is first and foremost a running event and you need to run. The obstacles are just there to give you a rest in between your sprint bursts (a poor attempt of humor by me) until you reach your next one. So if you are too busy bench pressing instead of running, stop now and run. One element of conditioning to possess is the constant ability to carry your own bodyweight over the many obstacles, the humble chin up /pull up and its variations comes to mind. Never underestimate the ability to pull yourself up! You will need it on this day my friend.  You also need to perform in lifting heavy items from the ground and with one memorable obstacle load them onto your shoulders (you are no longer at the Gym so, no one will pass them to you) and carry it for distance up and back down a rather steep looking hill. The exercises here that replicate some of these movements would be Deadlifting for the 55kg dead ball that you will find or the wimpy smaller one if you chose, Heavy shouldering with the sandbag for the carry and for us at Claudefit, a familiar dose of Kettlebell Military presses for overhead strength and shoulder stability. be aware the shoulders cop a regular beating during the day.

Another likely obstacle you will need to take on is the ever challenging rope climb, in preparation get a thick rope (Now) and find out the best way you feel getting up and back down without injury (its only required once) find a person who knows the technique and drill it often, Just a reminder that you will most likely encounter the rope climb exhausted along with wet, cold and slippery hands, be prepared. Don’t say I didn’t warn you – drop and give me 30 burpees if you fail.

Is it like tough mudder? NO. The difference is that with Spartan you are actually racing for time as the top end guys who do this seriously compete for placing that qualifies them onto more challenging races against other like minded Spartans, to ultimately find out who the best one is. Incidentally this event is growing in popularity and its getting serious within its own community. AROO is the catch-cry!  With tough mudder is it’s a different event in that the promoting of teamwork is highly regarded and you are not racing the clock, you are simply negotiating the obstacles as a solo entrant or within a team structure with the view of completing the course and opting out of certain obstacles is an option. With Spartan you don’t get such benefits.

A major difference, between TM and Spartan is the pace. With TM and given the possibility that you have trained for it you could comfortably be able to set your running tempo over a 20klm course in negotiating the 20 or so obstacles. Unfortunately with the Spartan race running flat chat through the Australian bush for say 7, 14 or 21klms depending on the race type is expected.  Due to the undulating terrain that you have to race through in reaching the obstacles, I’m certain your heart rate will be up, along with other competitors attempting to share the space on improving  their own time.

Being prepared allows you to be focused. Being focused prevents injuries. So you either tackle the challenge, give up and do 30 burpee’s, or simply get out of the way, the young folk are coming through. Previously we older ones paced ourselves well and managed not to get run over by the younger fitter and stronger young guns running past. We are smart and have nothing to prove……yeah right.

For us at Claudefit who are tacking the Spartan race we simply factor in what’s required for the event and incorporate it into our clients particular goals. We all run when time permits, lift weights and practice the rope on a regular basis. So getting focuses on just the Spartan race is not our main objective, It’s just something we do to test us in a challenging environment and trial our overall conditioning as a consequence of the training we simply do.

General physical preparation for whatever life throws at us. In this case the Spartan race.

As they say Aroo. Now drop and give me 30.

http://spartanrace.com.au/race-info/melbourne-sprint-may-31st-2014/

 

That’s a wrap – Tough Mudder report

Well Tough Mudder now has been conquered with all team members managing to make it through without any major mishaps and achieving a major goal that a few months ago was in their opinion something that “others did”. Now sitting comfortably ,dry, exhausted, a little sore, nursing some minor scratches, I’m finally taking the time out and reflecting on a challenging yet rewarding day out in the mud.

It started pre dawn with the team bus departing from Claudefit right on time for the hour and a half drive to Phillip Island. As you would expect the feeling initially as quite nerve racking for the newbie’s along with the more experienced ones still sharing in the anticipation on what was to come. Sometimes having “been there done that” is not a good thing as you know what you are about to partake in again and with Tough Mudder it’s a fair chance that you would be thinking about the old obstacles that previously challenged you and the scary new ones that have yet to be experienced. Once we got there and collected our event bibs. It wasn’t long before we were front and centre ready to roll out on the next wave. This is where the MC pumps you up during the countdown – 3,2,1 Boom were off.

The harders part again during Tough Mudder was the Running component, lots of it!  After all it is a running event along with the obstacles that are frightening and challenging for some and a cakewalk for others which if you are not aware are all optional.  You don’t have to do them. It’s alright to give it a miss and allow those who can give it a try. After all we all have our strength and weaknesses as I clearly demonstrated by not even reaching an obstacle called the leap of faith. And landed in water! This waiting time is also an opportunity to give the legs a rest from the running get your breath back and be ready to march on running toward the next obstacle,

The team covered the terrain at a reasonable pace which meant we didn’t leave anyone behind. After all that is what we do. With the support of previous Tough Mudder participants like Kaan – my running buddy, Katie (Pocket rocket) and Nikki from Nikfitness who unfortunately was injured became the official team photographer. My role as a Team leader on the day was pretty straight forward. Ensure that all participants stayed together, keep the individuals within their abilities and approach it with a proactive managing style not by yelling down my clients, being aware of what was required within the group dynamics and not placing then in any situation for potential injuries to occur. Adrenalin and fatigue don’t mix.We play it safe at Claudefit.

Overall the team did an exceptional job in keeping an eye out for each other while individually tackling the obstacles and helping each other out when the need arose. I mean how do you scale a 12 foot wall alone without getting a boost? How do you manage to jump off a 5+ meter ledge into the water? (Think Momba birdman rally here for those who can remember) How would you get up on top of Everest after running 19klms? (giant ramp) without a helping hand waiting for you on top? Well you have a team that supports you that’s how. The new members consisted of individual just like you. Take for example Kimberley and Justin who each have sought my services as a trainer one with one on one Personal Training and the other joining our ladies only group training. Both have their own goal and continually put in the time and effort to make the changes required. My wife who prefers to do Mini triathlons, Caroline that clearly turned up prepared, Jackie who can knock off a run at the drop of a hat, and Shai who in the past “only lifts heavy stuff for cardio” who decided to give Tough mudder a crack and on the day did what was required to rough it out and put up with me.

Once at the finish line it was all about the celebrations, photos, hugs, handshakes and thanking your new mates who witnessed your great achievement in getting the job done.

Well done to all the new Mudder’s support crew and repeat offenders.

Next stop Pizza shop!

Tough Mudder- It’s all about the headband

Given the recent interest in all things obstacle racing by the general public and the abundance of current choices promoting these events I thought it might be good to educate some on what these things are all about.

So here’s the deal with our event- tough mudder. You have to like to run (20klm) on dirt, mud, gravel, pavement and trotting along paddocks. You have to like getting mud everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. If you are the type of person that likes to jump of moderate heights into a dam, slide down a makeshift water slide, get “mildly”electrocuted, trounce over mud, enjoy and ice bath, swim in cold water and even crawl underground for a few dark metres you should be ok and will survive! Oh did I mention you have to run.

At the end of the line In Tough mudders case , we are welcomed with a complimentary beer (VB) which to me, I wouldn’t even wash my old mans carburettor with , however not to be too anti social and really wanting to drink anything that did not have mud in it turns out to  quite a treat. The reality is I’m just a beer snob!  On completion all you get for your effort is a silly once size fits all orange head band along with a finishers T-shirt. You then basically look like everybody else around. Filthy, exhausted, jubilant, proud, somewhat energised, ready to tackle the world knowing you have accepted the challenge and along the way conquered some fears! All while proudly showing off your new kit! I really treasure my “silly little headband” It is after all my badge of honour.

“Before anything else preparation is the key to success” – A .G. Bell

Our preparation began by getting our general physical preparation (GPP) up to safely ensure we would all have a better chance of getting out it alive! (joke here) Let me put it this way Lack of preparation will show up on the day. period. Like any endeavour this will ring true. The better the preparation the better you will be both mentally and physically ready to not only run the 20klms plus 18 obstacles, but to actually complete the event and complete it well. That is after all our plan.

Our team at will be tackling this event for the third time and having been through the initial “first scary one” we know what lies ahead, what it takes and most importantly how to prepared for it. We now have a team of around 10 plus our support crew/cheers squad tagging along for the ride. For the tough mudder crew in addition to their own particular Personal/group training requirements our basic programming over time has been lots of bodyweight movements, regular running, all the basic compound lifts ( pulls, press, push and squat) while utilising both barbells and Kettlebells for variety.  A solid serving of hard style kettlebell swings was always a regular treat. The Cardio component in particular with the ladies group has been complimented with Boxing specific training (a truly full body workout) overall the group is well prepared and physically ready to tackle the coming challenges.

With a basic preparation of running along with a solid strength base anyone should be able to complete the course without much trouble. A properly followed program not only readies you for the event but allows you to recover quicker and reduce the risk of injuries. However if you are one of many and turn up unprepared with only a bare minimum of preparation, (and believe me I’ve seen plenty examples out there) You will somehow find a way through and eventually make it but I don’t like your chances of pulling up well for the next couple days following or even worse, get an injury that could have been prevented in the first place by simply taking the time to prepare your body for the an obstacle course. So please be warned.  Our team newbie’s naturally are a little nervous but with all our events they will be taken care of by the more experienced among us during the day  – after all it the way we do it.

We are prepared and we will conquer it ……….Together as a team.

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