Spartan race

Running trails in Mill Park

Trail Running in Mill Park

We are currently on a mission where my two running buddies and I are looking at tackling another Spartan race in September while building up to towards a full road marathon in late October.

As a group we have previously tackled sever running event as they pop up and deal with them as part of our regular running program. This time around we are being more practical and have planned out strategies to cover three different runs while ensuring that the workouts all complement each other. We have already completed the Plenty valley 11.2klm trail run as part of our preparation and have set up a solid base of  trail running for the next more challenging and longer event – The Spartan beast that is a half marathon trail run along with many obstacles.

It’s been an interesting few months as we have built up the necessary kilometres of running required to successfully complete this particular trifecta all while maintaining our health and staying injury free. We are all have other responsibilities and getting injured is not an option so we do our best to prepare for the upcoming events with a sound program that balance out running and resistance training.

Our running

The first race for us was the Salomon run in plenty valley (Mill Park) which is an 11.2 klm’s trail run around the blue lake single trails that is one of the more scenic events this series has to offer. It’s made up of several single track sections, a big hill and several more technical sections that add up to an enjoyable and challenging run. We have been running this particular area for several months as we are local to this course and change the route every time we run the park for variety. We generally cover anything from 8 to 20 klms depending on the type of workout.

With trail running just chucking in hill or two makes a huge difference so there’s plenty to offer here. This shorter (Salomon series) of the 3 events offers us the opportunity to work on our hill climbing , speed work and overall endurance in using it as a stepping stone to the longer and harder 20klm Spartan race coming up in September. Let’s not forget the Marathon in October.

The following is a simple, yet effective plan in getting you prepared for trial running. Remember, the bottom line with most programs is to simply turn up, do the work and commit to the long term plan. Especially with running!

  • 2-3 times minimum running 8-15 klm’s both on road and trails. This would include a longer run over the weekend covering a mix of road/trail up to 20klm’s
  • 2 sessions working on resistance training
  • And for my clients 1 personal training session working of full body strength covering specific requirements based on their particular needs.

Our weight training sessions

The resistance program was approached with a view of ensuring that the overall training load would fulfil an all over strength base increase and make us more durable given the trail running effect on the body and in particular preparation for the half marathon distance Spartan race. It’s basically a General Physical Preparation plan that will deliver a bigger return on workout time. It’s important to ensure that both you fitness and conditioning is up to the task.

The following represents the major exercises/movement covered.

Trap bar Deadlift/barbell

Barbell military press

Barbell bench

Barbell squat

Pull ups/chins

For a more conditioning approach the following more that satisfied the criteria

Kettlebell swing

Kettlebell push press

Sandbag shouldering / Sandbag muscle snatch

Battling rope

Skipping

My own weekly program was basic. Here’s the plan for the last month. 

Sunday – Long run

Monday – Mobility / weights

Tuesday – Run

Wednesday – Run

Thursday – Weights

Friday – Run

Saturday – Mobility

A lack of preparation will show on the day.

Similar to most things in life without proper planning you are going nowhere. It’s clearly the way to approach any fitness goal as it will go a long way in getting you where you want to be. whether its weight loss, an increase in fitness levels , becoming stronger or simply cleaning up your act with your food , it will always come down to having an effective plan first and then sticking to it. I’ve seen it many times before during running events where  a few chosen ones turn up and think they will wing it on the day and “see how it goes” unfortunately this usually doesn’t go too well. It’s the same thing with nutrition, if you don’t manage your intake along with the quality of your nutrients then nothing will happen.

By having a plan you at least have a greater chance in achieving your goals. As life tends to sometimes getting the way it’s always good to know that you can always adjust you plan as circumstances dictate. It’s better to have one than not.

Claudefit Personal training is located in Mill Park with the premises conveniently located with access directly to the gorge and its many trails.

Happy training and see you at Spartan. AROO!

 

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.

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/

 

If you don’t turn up you don’t get results.

Hello and welcome to the first publication of my blog on fitness, life, banter , promoting myself silly and whatever happens to jump into my old head. I’ll try not to go astray and do my best to keep to the subject matter. Well ill try at least, ok?

A bit about me. I’m currently 46 year young and sometime behave like a 12 year old, really I do, just ask any of my colleagues and my clients. I keep things simple which allows me to get results and be understood. Why complicate something for the sake of impressing great people who are after results and a solid workout. Not a workshop. My background to my own training goes back to the good old days where I would just turn up and decide on the day what I was going to train.  Most likely chest and arms. Quite simply I wanted to get big, lean and look good for the ladies. In actual fact I was more interested in looking better than my mates for bragging rights as the ladies didn’t give me attention     ( feel free to pity me now) So after approximately 10 year of “ bodybuilding” type training I decided that I needed something else that wasn’t going to break me , actually see my neck again and take me onto my future years and be pain free.

And a little bit of that fitness stuff other people do would probably be ok.

This is where I took up traditional karate (Goju Kai) learned to move , and slowly over the years worked my way up the ranks by simply turning up, listening, training hard and making an effort to learn what was on offer. Basically I was the fellow who was always there chipping away, (over the colder months) not fast, strong or gifted. Just happy to be there, in fact by doing so I got to be respected by my peers and as a consequence was given some extra attention by my new friends which went along like this “we are sparring on Saturday, be there!”. In later years I followed the same process with Boxing at club level. Turned up, got fit, got leaner, and got to learn a little about the sweet science known as boxing. Are you following the pattern here? TURN UP! As a bonus my coach who knew I was a personal trainer invited me to participate in the coaching course and as a result I’m registered with Boxing Australia as a boxing coach. Oh yeah.

It was only when I began my professional career in Personal training that I realised that with a disciplined approach to traditional karate and boxing, what all the years of training did for me. It actually taught me how to be a better person/trainer that now operates as Claudefit. how? By listening, caring and knowing how to help others…..go figure.  And I thought my high kicks and sense of humor were enough.

Fast forward to now and how it affects my Approach on training you?

I simply listen to your needs and ensure that we prepare the body and mind accordingly in order to meet those goals.  Whether you are looking at losing weight, getting stronger, fitter or becoming more resilient for your chosen sport. I see myself as only a trainer that gets the job done.

Look forward in catching up with you soon. Our group is getting ready to tackle the future fun runs along with tough mudder and Spartan race. Let me know if you are keen.

One more thing before I go. Commit to your fitness program and TURN UP.

Book A Session Today!