So What’s It Like To Compete In A Spartan Race?

So What’s It Like To Compete In A Spartan Race?

Spartan and other Obstacle Course Races (otherwise known as OCR) continue to grow in popularity and participation.

Spartan in particular has great appeal, encouraging participants not only to take part in an event but to adopt the ‘Spartan’ culture which has many similarities with the TrueSapien philosophy, so not surprisingly many TrueSapiens have gravitated toward them.

There are various race offerings to suit different fitness levels and experience.

TrueSapien Ben Comery provides a first hand account of his experience of a recent Spartan Race….

 

I was calm. I stood shoulder to shoulder with the best and I was calm. At the start line I was hurting, the Super the day before had left me bruised, sore and stinging. A few words from Karl the race director and then the count down…

3” Calm concentration trying to keep my breathing even. “Hold back” I tell myself. “2” Hand on my watch, I breath out all the self doubt. “1” I AM A SPARTAN. The line surges forward and a few Athletes fly off the start line quickly hitting the first corner before I’m even settled. Lungs burning I calm myself, i settle in behind the more experienced racers as the pace starts to build. We hit the first obstacles (four foot hurdles and Over under throughs) and the pack starts to split. Some of the faster guys start to pull away but I’m not concerned, I up my pace to keep them in check. The pack comes back together as we progress through a long running section and then bunches at the top of a descent. I take my opportunity, dive through the nettles and drop down the hill like a stone. I hit the cargo net in 3rd but lose my footing as the net flails around me. Damn!

Back down the pack as we enter the barbed wire crawl but I attack again and regain several places. Another long running section gives me the chance to stretch my legs again and I quickly eat through the terrain. As I come out of the woods the farmer carries is next. I grit my teeth and power walk up the slopes and drop down the descents claiming another place in the process. I’m close to the front of the pack now, the leader enters the atlas stone ahead of me but both of us smash through it quickly and head straight in to the sand bag carry.

I pick the 2 sandbags up and push through the pain building in my legs. I climb the steepest hill and try to push but my breathing is laboured and my heart is beating out of my chest. Third place uses this and launches his attack, sailing past me while I struggle. We descend once again and I get rid of my sandbags and sprint to the hoist. I jump high and rip the weight into the air as fast as I can but 1st and 2nd have a slight lead already. Another punishing hill waits and all 3 of us have to dig deep. I push myself a long the next running section but the leaders are still increasing the lead. The z wall offers no problems but the plate drag feels heavy after yesterday’s beating.

I fly through the multirig and head for the tyre carry. AROO it screams in huge letters on the hill side, 1st and 2nd are over halfway through by the time I start but I dig deep and there lead doesn’t grow. Pain burning in my legs and sweat dripping in to my eyes I dig deep and find some more strength to finish the tyre carry strong. My friend is volunteering at the tyre carry and his shouts of encouragement pick me up and make the next hill feel easier. I hit a trail section and immediately start accelerating, I can no longer see 1st but 2nd is still in sight.

Dread starts to fill me, up ahead is the bucket carry that broke so many people the day before but I don’t let that slow me. I rush towards my doom, round the corner and the bucket carry has been removed. Yes!I look over my shoulder and 4th is no where to be seen. My head tells me to slow down and stupidly I listen, taking my time to ready myself before the rope climb. I ring the bell and drop quickly as 4th comes in to view. I smash through the monkey bars, mud bath and the slippery wall as quick as I can and charge in to the spear throw. 2nd place Jack is stuck in the burpee zone, he turns to watch my attempt. No pressure.

Aim. Breath. Release.

The spear sails beautifully through the air and gets lodged in to the hay bale. Jack finishes his burpees as I turn to leave. 15 yards separate us. I approach the Rope rig and Jack stops short and walks a few yards to the rig. I attack and we both enter the obstacle at the same time. I grab the rope keeping my feet high and my hips low, making my way around the inside bend my foot slips and I’m left hanging.

I grip as tight as I can and regain control, inching my way around I slip again but get a better grip and launch myself for the bell. I hit the ground running, 8 foot walls separate me from the finish line. My heart pounding in my head I race towards the wall and out of the corner of my eye I see Jack. We hit the wall in unison, I throw myself over and sprint for the next wall, my wife is screaming urging me on.

The wall looms over me and I jump. Willing myself over with ever increasing speed. I dig deep, ignoring the storm raging in my head. Lungs shrieking, legs bursting we leap, almost as one, across the fire and collapse on the floor. Much later in the day it is confirmed that I came 3rd and Jack second but we both know that doesn’t matter. The position is irrelevant,

I gave it my all.

Every last drop.

 

A Runner’s Training Diary. Run Like A TrueSapien!

A Runner’s Training Diary. Run Like A TrueSapien!

Discover what makes runner and OCR Competitor Ben a TrueSapien. We’re following Ben’s training diary over the coming months to gain an insight into a TrueSapien’s daily training.

Read the first post in this series for a Background to Ben and the first week of his diary.

What follows is week 2 & 3 with Ben’s account of how he felt before, during and after and a description of the session.

 

15/1/17
Before: Ready
During: Cold and wet
After: Sore ankles
21km/13miles –  2 hours
Went exploring the NDW again. Lots of frozen mud to smash my ankles and ice to catch me out. GREAT fun !! Nice time on my feet with some new shoes

16/1/17
Before: Sore ankles
During: Fast!
After : ankles still sore
Easy miles to recover from sunday. New shoes feel fast even though they are heavier ! Ankles still sore fro the weekend

17/1/17 double
6am
Before: ankles better
During: good
After: ready for the day
6am run just to wake me up. 20minutes out and back. Freezing!!
7pm
Before: Still sore but getting better
During: Fast!!
After: sore ankles but feeling good
Same run as yesterday but 8s/km quicker! At the exact same HR!! Still easy km for the moment. Back to back quality sessions coming soon.

18/1/17
Rest day  + “cheat” meal

19/1/17
Before: Sore ankles
During: Heavy legs
After: Sore
Quick 20minutes in the A.M longer run planned for  P.M but work went side ways

20/1/17
Before: Sore ankles still
During: heavy legs for the first half, settled in after
After: Shocked!
8x 3minutes Hard (5km race pace) with 2minutes reco very jog. Pushing vo2 to the max and reintroduction to the pain cave a vitally important place if you want to be competitive! Felt tough but first Hard session usually is! Estimated vo2 is now 59! Even with sore ankles and heavy legs

21/1/17
Before: Sore ankles still
During: feeling good
After: Happy
1mile threshold with 1minutes rest x 5
Building that lactic threshold while fasted! Hitting 4min/km putting me on target for 80-85minute half marathon !

22/1/17
Before: Sore ankles
During: STRONG!
After: Sore ankles again
Long slow run, 21km exploring the NDW struggled to keep the HR low due to the changes in elevation but averaged 146bpm (74%)

23/1/17
Decided to rest due to the ankle. It’s important not to make injuries worse when your body is telling you something is wrong .

24/1/17
Before: ankle feeling better
During: started to get sore towards the end
After: Sore but not as bad as before

25/1/17
Another rest day to try and get in front of this before it gets worse and i can’t run at all.

26/1/17
Rest.

27/1/17
Before: Tired but ready
During: Strong ! Until i lost my footing on a pothole!
After: Swollen and sore ankle!
1000m Intervals at 3:30 pace, could quite manage to maintain pace as i was feeling tired from work and a nasty head wind on the up hills killed me but hitting around 3:40/km. Everything was great until i lost my foot in a pot hole! NSAID and rest and hope for the best now !

28/1/17
Rest. Swelling gone down but still uncomfortable

We’ll have more from Ben’s diary in the coming weeks to see how he responds to his injury on the build up to his first race of the season!

Kettlebells. How To Get Started With Kettlebell Training.

Starting anything can be daunting and overwhelming and that’s certainly the case with adding new and alternative training concepts to your plan.

One of the most popular additions to many functional training programs is Kettlebell Training. The advantages of Kettlebell Training are widely recognised and much lauded. One of the standout attributes to this form of training being that outlay is relatively minimal and training can be performed almost anywhere …… but to get optimal results it’s vital to get the right equipment for YOU.

Jamie Lloyd offers this advice. Jamie is ‘The Total Body Breakthrough Expert’, an award winning health and fitness coach committed to helping people achieve what they had believed to be impossible.

 

Buying A Kettlebell

It used to be relatively easy to choose a Kettlebell as there were few companies selling them. Now they are widely available and you can even purchase them at your local supermarket! But they are not all the same….

As you begin with this form of training it’s possible to get great results from just one Bell. But which one? There are so many different shapes, weights and sizes to choose from.

Kettlebell Weight

Now I’m going to be very generic here with these recommendations. You yourself will know whether your natural strength is above or below average so adjust by a couple of kilo’s either way accordingly.

When starting out, this is what I recommend:

  • Women – 8kg (18lb) kettlebell
  • Men – 16kg (35lb) kettlebell

 

If you do have the available funds to allow the purchase of more than one Kettlebell this is what I’d recommend for the average male and female:

  • Women – 8kg, 10kg, 12kg
  • Men – 16kg, 18kg, 20kg

The Handle

The Finish

When you’re performing repetitive swing, clean and snatches with the kettlebell and it has a rough handle or seam running down it, it will be extremely irritating. So have a good look at the handle and ensure it is really smooth and even. It’s usually the cheaper ones that have a poor finish to the handle so beware, don’t just take a quick look, run your hands over it to ensure it is free from blemishes.

Handle Diameter

The diameter of the handle is really important, especially if you have large hands. Decent kettlebells have a handle diameter of at least 31-33mm going up to even 38mm for the heavier ones. Cheap kettlebells come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some have rubber or really thin handles which make them almost impossible to hold during swings and very awkward during snatches. Also, avoid plastic kettlebells at all costs!

As mentioned earlier, most handle diameters increase in size as the weight increases. My personalfavourites however are competition kettlebells which have a uniform diameter of 33mm which is great for consistency as you progress. These can be a little more pricey though.

 

Summary

So there you have it. An honest opinion of the key factors involved when deciding which kettlebell or kettlebells to choose when starting kettlebell training. If you’re still unsure and in need of further advice seek out and speak to a professional. not somebody who has taken a weekend course but one who preferably competes in kettlebells. Or alternatively contact myself Jamie Lloyd.

 

Thank you to Jamie Lloyd for this article. Jamie is available for Personal Training, Nutrition Coaching, Sports Massage and Group Fitness Training.

 

A Runner’s Training Diary. Run Like A TrueSapien!

Discover what makes runner and OCR competitor Ben a TrueSapien. We’ll be following his and others training and challenges this year and in the process gain an insight into what drives them and why being a TrueSapien and not just an average Sapien, is so rewarding.

What follows is a brief introduction to Ben and a week in his training….


Ben Comery, 27, has been running since July 2015. Having dabbled with weight lifting and cycling for a few years he discovered a love for running through obstacle course racing (or OCR), completing his first Spartan race in October 2015. He was quickly hooked!

“I race because I love pushing my limits and being outside my comfort zone. If somebody says i can’t do something I have to prove them wrong ! I love being outside and what better way to explore the country than on my own two feet.
My goals for 2017 are to compete at an Elite level at Spartan Race UK and to continue to push my limits in road and trail race”.

So here’s a brief summary of my running training for last week with how I felt before, during and after (always a great idea to note this I think for evaluation of sessions):

Day 1
Before: Tired
During: Sick from eating 40mins before run
After: Sore ankles
Recovery run- Easy 8km kept hr low to allow the body to recover from Sunday. Feeling very tired but got it done!

Day 2
Before: Sore ankles
During: Strong
After: Fast!
12 x 200m repeats with 200m jog recovery
Building speed and strength. Helps with the “kick” and helps your body deal with huge amounts of lactic acid build up.

Day 3
Rest day! The most important day of the week! Helps me recover and keeps me sane.

Day 4
Recovery miles again just to keep the legs loose

Day 5
Took another recovery day after 2 tough cold days at work . 7km in the bank.

Day 6
1 mile Threshold Repeats.  Aim for 86-88% HR with 1 minute rest after each repeat. Takes your body to it’s lactic limit and then holds it there for an uncomfortably long time. Builds mental strength and teaches your body to deal with huge amounts of lactic acid for long periods. The end goal is to take this threshold and use it as your Half marathon race pace so need to be able to maintain it for 90minutes.

 

We’ll regularly  publish exerts from Ben’s running and OCR training and events as and when they arise!

Smoothie Ideas For An Easy Nutrient Boost

Whatever the main objective, increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables is arguably one of the biggest contributors to a healthier lifestyle. The excuse most people find for not incorporating more into their daily diet is usually around the matter of convenience.

A simple way is to introduce smoothies into your life!

TrueSapien friend Yemsmoothies offers these simple yet nutritious ideas to try. Let us know what you think!

1 Avocado, Banana, Broccoli [raw], Spinach, Pear

2 Apple, Banana, Purple cabbage, Lettuce, Flaxseed, Banana

3 Red Apple, Orange, Carrot, Ginger, Lettuce, Red Banana powder

Base used for all smoothies – Water

If you’re drinking smoothies for weight loss/detox  as one of your meal replacements i.e breakfast or dinner then keep your smoothies as green as possible.

Note that you’ll  still need to exercise, eat and drink clean to achieve your weight loss. A Green smoothie isn’t a magical weight loss drink!

Your  healthy or weight loss smoothies aren’t meant to be extremely sweet like ” cold stone or Wall’s ice cream ” so don’t plough it with overly sweet fruits. Your solid sweeteners should be either pineapple, mango, banana or 1 -2 dates.

Drink and taste the colour of your smoothies.

Worried that your breakfast smoothie won’t fill you up ? – then add 2 tablespoons of oats. We can guarantee you that you’ll be full to the brim after drinking it!

Use coconut / almond/tigernut milk, water, coconut water or even cool green tea as your base.

Yemsmoothies will be back again soon with some more smoothie recipes or tips!

The Gauntlet Pull Up Challenge – Update

UPDATE

Well, it’s June 8th so 1 week to go until the end of my Gauntlet Pull Up challenge. I set a 6 week timescale as I considered this short enough to be challenging yet long enough to make the required progress. However, I think I may have underestimated the challenge…

I have encountered a couple of setbacks. Firstly the pull up bar I ordered was unsuitable so I have been limited to simulating the pull up using my TRX cables. Not great but I don’t think this has hindered me too much. The only limitation it has is that I’m not able to perform the exact form of the pull up with my entire bodyweight. I figured though that it’s muscular endurance that I’m seeking rather than strength with this challenge as I’m already capable of lifting my bodyweight as demonstrated when setting my baseline for the challenge.
The major difficulty I found was fitting in the training without effecting my triathlon and martial arts training. As those were my priority and I viewed the challenge as secondary, if I was in a situation whereby I had to choose between my triathlon swimming training or my pull up training (pull up training would adversely effect my swim performance) I chose the swimming. This is what I must change if I’m going to succeed at this or future challenges. I mentioned in my initial post on this challenge the importance of accepting challenges that align with current objectives and beliefs. I initially believed that this challenge would help my swimming and martial arts with the increased muscular endurance it would bring. I should have stuck to my original belief rather than worried it would have detrimental effects in terms of fatigue. Either that or given myself a longer period to achieve the challenge so I could have fitted training in to my current regime more easily without the worry of fatigue.
Judging on my performance tonight I won’t be a million miles away on June 15th.
There’s a lesson to be learned in everything I guess!
Don’t forget to check out our YouTube channel to view video diary progress of this challenge.

Metrosexual Man has gone too far…..

The average man takes 6 minutes longer to get ready to go out than the average woman….! Tell me this just isn’t true!

Modern men are in a bad state. They have a confused identity brought about initially by the rise of feminism and later by advertising campaigns of cosmetic and healthcare products, hell-bent on de-masculinising the male of the species for their own gain.

They diet, moisturise, self- tan, follow celebrity news and gossip and shave their chests for aesthetics!

Next we’ll be sitting down to pee. It’s time to stand up, be a man, leave the seat down and completely miss your aim! (Metaphorically).
Man Overboard