Trail running Mill Park

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.

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!

 

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.

Olinda trail run

Trail run fun

It’s a mountain not a hill!

This was the comment my client and fellow trail running buddy Shai who so enthusiastically told me on the way to the 3rd of the Salomon trail series race. Right from the start to end involved running the trails on the ever popular Dandenong ranges suburb of Olinda. In our case what runs down most certainly has to run up again, and so we did.

The drive up there was typical of two blokes about to do anything to do with exercise; we bragged on how well we were going to do. Let’s just say it was a different type of conversation on the way back. Once we got to the bottom of the mountain and drove past the famous 1000 steps we simply started to climb up and passed a few crazy cyclist who were riding up there for their regular Sunday hit-out (a massive ride I believe) and it was only when we got to the golf course at Olinda where we were received by a thick and unwelcoming fog.

You can’t make this stuff up.

It was cold, early and windy.  Glad for me Shai was good enough to pick me up and we had arranged to meet up with the other participant once we got to the start/end line where all the stalls were all set up and grabbed that all important coffee prior to start.

Welcome to the top of the Dandenong ranges.

As we have figured out the Salomon series is well organised, with around 1500 participants in three distances of 7klm, 15klm and 21klm. We as rookies to these events gladly took on the 7klm as we had previously taken on the 12 klm for the Plenty Valley run and felt we hadn’t performed as well. You see, we participate in many of the popular fun runs and we can generally cover the 10klms on the flat well. Trail running as we found out has other challenges that the more comfortable flatter bitumen running doesn’t offer – go figure. The bottom line is that trail running is much harder and demands more focus on the single track.

While you are chasing the person in front while you can hear your own tail been covered and makes it quite draining from a mental point of view, it is a race after all. The Australian bush offers you a spectacular view and plenty fresh air. A good thing as you age going to need it.  The important point here that I would like to make is they they are a lot of fun to do, just be prepared and have more of a base fitness if you wish to conquer the chosen distance.

 

Short Course elevation profile

olinda

 

 

 

 

(Image taken form Salomon trail series website)

The Race

The elevation for this course looked pretty simple and on paper looked like we were not going to struggle like the previous longer one. Looks can be deceiving as it was quite an honest run. Start running down the hill, go across and back up, simple and effective and certainly go the job done. The first part was quite exciting as we were basically bolting down the hill and making sure we didn’t end up crashing into the scrub. Once we got down to the bottom it was a simple matter of negotiating the single and wider track until eventually had to come back up and as my running buddy had already mentioned we were supposedly meant to be running up this mountain, let me put it this way. I went from hero running down to zero in making it back up. It was a mixture of excitement and exhaustion at the same time. The legs were feeling the gradient and the lungs were on overdrive; the only thing I could do was slow down and let my breathing determine the speed. (A logical choice)  Eventually when we made it up the fog had cleared and all I can remember is the MC trying to coach a sprint out of me. No chance lady. Once complete I managed to regain my composure and not show the clear pain I felt inside.  It didn’t work.

I can only imagine what the other more seasoned trail runners had to cover in the longer races, a nice challenge moving forward. We as rookies to these events look forward to more specific trail running training and will be making sure we are ready to tackle the whole series with at least taking on the medium options as the next step.

The next and last of the trail run options will be held in Anglesea, I’m Looking forward to the drive down and supporting my wife on this one.

No point in keeping it to myself!

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