Obstacle race

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.

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 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/

 

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