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.

 

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.

 

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.

THE GAUNTLET Pull Up Challenge

So the Gauntlet has been thrown down from a fellow TrueSapien. My challenge is to complete 20 consecutive pull ups. Considering I have only ever really been able to max out at 10-12 per set at this exercise means that it is a considerable challenge, effectively doubling my current capability, one that will require pushing myself in order to achieve. This is an excellent challenge for me as functional bodyweight exercises and calisthenics align to my main interests of martial arts and triathlon.

As with most exercise or fitness related challenges the first step is to set the baseline and see how many I can currently achieve. This is effectively a specific fitness test which can then be repeated to determine improvement and ultimately success.
Next stage is to set a timescale that’s both realistic but not too lengthy. I decided on 6 weeks, commencing on May 4th which gives me a deadline of June 15th.
Next is to determine the best way to increase my muscular endurance to achieve the required reps. As pull ups are an exercise I can currently do its not necessary to progress  to that exercise from easier variations such as assisted pull ups or suspended pull ups. If I were unable to complete pull ups then there is a wealth of information out there on progression exercises. My plan of attack will be to repeat my max number of reps every day. By Max I mean stopping short (1 rep) of failure as this may take too long to recover from than the 24 hrs. I will perform 3 sets of my max with a 2 min rest period between sets.
I’ll keep you posted on my progress, I’m planning weekly updates!