Tuesday, November 21, 2017

My Spartan Race Training Plan

In my last post I talked about overtraining and how I had to take 5 weeks off from doing any serious exercise.  So what does any sane person do once they are ready to go back to the gym?  Well they plan every workout from now until July obviously.  No I'm serious I have every workout planned until I do the Indiana Spartan Sprint again in July.  You can checkout my whole plan here.

Obstacle course racing (OCR) has some unique challenges in that you have to train all sorts of different systems.  You need to be a good runner but you also need power, strength, mobility, a soul crushing grip and ability to flush lactate.  Its a lot to try and manage and I wanted to get a little more serious and come up with a concrete plan of attack.  I also wanted to periodize my training plan instead of trying to throw the kitchen sink at me every week.  Basically I would concentrate on different things at different times of the year instead of trying to train everything at once and getting no where except maybe back into an overtrained state.  Unfortunately my aerobic base training didn't go quite as planned.  I stopped lifting weights and doing any intervals on 5/31/2017 and then I got about 2 and 1/2 months of just aerobic base training in before I had to take that 5 weeks off.

In that 2 1/2 months my MAF pace didn't really improve much which was a little disappointing.  If you don't remember what MAF is read my post on aerobic training but essentially this was my pace at a target HR of 136 (180-age).  Below are all my 4 mile MAF tests to track my progress.


Date1M2M3M4MTarget HR4 Mile Total TimeAvg PaceOutside Temp
6/1/20179:57:0010:27:0010:35:0010:55:0013641:54:0010:28:3076
6/5/20179:46:0010:24:0010:44:0010:59:0013641:53:0010:28:1583
6/8/20179:50:0010:23:0010:34:0010:36:0013641:23:0010:20:4572
6/16/20179:55:0010:35:0011:00:0011:10:0013642:40:0010:40:0086
6/23/20179:55:009:59:0010:06:0010:23:0013640:23:0010:05:4571
6/30/20179:39:0010:18:0010:25:0010:34:0013640:56:0010:14:0077
7/3/20179:49:0010:18:0010:37:0010:48:0013641:32:0010:23:0082
7/12/20179:51:0010:21:0010:34:0010:46:0013641:32:0010:23:0084
8/8/20179:45:0010:09:0010:27:0010:34:0013640:55:0010:13:4576
8/16/20179:42:0010:08:0010:36:0010:51:0013641:17:0010:19:1582

The more I learn about Aerobic base building the more I discover that it takes a long time.  The last recommendation I heard was 30-38 weeks of base building, this was directed at a strict endurance athlete (so just running).  To muddy the data a bit there seems to be a strong correlation to outside temperature and my pace so I'm not entirely sure if I achieved much.  You do need patience in this kind of training but I've ran out it and what little muscle I had was disappearing fast.  By the time September rolled around I was ready to get back on the weights and put in some off season strength training.  So I have a strength block planned from here until Xmas.

For this block I'm using the MAPS Performance program by the Mind Pump guys.


If you are into resistance training I really like the programming of these guys.  They also have a really good podcast and I like that they are trying to dispel many of the common myths around training and the supplement industry.  So I'm going to do their MAPS Performance program for the first 3 months.  There are 4 phases to the plan, Raw Strength, Reactive Strength, Explosive Strength & Durability.  So during this strength phase I'll be changing programming every 3 weeks.  I will be modifying the program in that I will only lift twice a week instead of 3 days.  I don't want to overdo it plus I'll still be doing MAF running in between to maintain the little aerobic training I've gained.

10/1/201710/7/2017MAF Run 35 minsMAF Run 30 minsMAPS Phase I Fd 1Optional Active Recovery/GripMAF Run 30 minsMAPS Phase I Fd 2Rest DayStrength Phase I Raw Strength
10/8/201710/14/2017MAF Run 40 minsMAF Run 30 minsMAPS Phase I Fd 1Optional Active Recovery/GripMAF Run 35 minsMAPS Phase I Fd 2Rest DayStrength Phase I Raw Strength
10/15/201710/21/2017MAF Run 45 minsMAF Run 30 minsMAPS Phase I Fd 1Optional Active Recovery/GripMAF Run 35 minsMAPS Phase I Fd 2Rest DayStrength Phase I Raw Strength

This will take me to Xmas break where I'll take a week off.

After Xmas I will move to more OCR focused workouts.  The running workouts will ramp up and will include lots of different running workouts not just MAF.  This training plan is taken directly from the book "The Essentials of Obstacle Course Racing"  by David Magida.  This is the only decent Obstacle Course specific training book I have found so far.  It is also a good starting spot for somebody who is just starting in OCR.


The training plan from the book is 3 months, with 3 phases.  Foundation, Endurance and Power.  I'll have 6 months from Jan to Jun so I haven't quite decided how I'm going to extend the training plan yet but I'll make that decision at the end of this year.


12/31/20171/6/2018MAF Run 65 minsMAF Run 30 mins, Strength Workout ARunning Workout AOptional Active RecoveryMAF Run 30 mins, Strength Workout BRunning Workout BRest DayOCR Training Phase I Foundataion
1/7/20181/13/2018MAF Run 65 minsMAF Run 30 mins, Strength Workout CRunning Workout COptional Active RecoveryMAF Run 30 mins, Strength Workout DRunning Workout DRest DayOCR Training Phase I Foundataion
1/14/20181/20/2018MAF Run 70 minsMAF Run 30 mins, Strength Workout ARunning Workout AOptional Active RecoveryMAF Run 30 mins, Strength Workout BRunning Workout BRest DayOCR Training Phase I Foundataion
1/21/20181/27/2018MAF Run 70 minsMAF Run 30 mins, Strength Workout CRunning Workout COptional Active RecoveryMAF Run 30 mins, Strength Workout DRunning Workout DRest DayOCR Training Phase I Foundataion

Obviously nothing is set in stone and its very important for me to modify or adjust workouts to my schedule and more importantly on how my body feels and even take an unplanned rest day if necessary.  I'm a bit type A in that respect and I need to get better at listening to my body.  I also have to face the fact I am getting up in age and I just don't recover as well anymore.  The first week was a perfect example.  I did my first weight session on 9/26/2017 and it had been almost 3 months since I had touched a weight.  The results were predictable, I did the full workout and I was very sore for 3 to 4 days.  I did however cancel the weight workout on 9/29/2017 and replaced it with an easy swim (more like a 5 min dip) and a sauna session instead, so progress I guess.

Finally there are no real mobility sessions in my plan but I will continue to do my gymnastic stretching program in the evenings along with plenty of foam rolling of sore spots.

If you want to get serious about your results in whatever event you are competing in it is essential to have a good plan.  Even if you're not competing and just trying to stay healthy and active I think we all still want to improve and make the most of our time.  Have you plateaued in your workouts?  It might be time for a change.  When time available is such a big factor you want every minute you do have to be used wisely.  I think its also essential to document every training session to judge progress.  Honestly if you're really serious I think a coach is probably worth it.  However you're looking at probably $200-$300 a month for a decent coach who is going to do custom programming for you.  Also if you have access to a good trainer that can pay dividends also.  On the other hand finding a good one can be a bit of crap shoot.  If you're in Indianapolis I can recommend this guy.  Finally you can pay for a training site, here are some well respected OCR sites.

Yancy Camp

Leader Board Fit

I know coming up with my own training plan is not optimal but I enjoy the process and lets be honest I'm not winning anything.  We'll see where it gets me in July.

Links/Resources

My Training Plan

Book - The Essentials of Obstacle Course Racing

Mind Pump Podcast

MAPS Performance

Nerd Fitness - How to hire a good personal trainer

Sam Woodworth - Indianapolis Trainer

Gymnastic Bodies - Stretching Program

Spartan Race - 2018 Indiana Sprint

OCR Training Site - Yancy Camp

OCR Training Site - Leader Board Fit




Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Overtraining - Stress Relief

So its been a while since I've posted anything and you might be wondering what I've been up to lately.  To be honest I've been doing nothing.  No seriously I've just finished taking a full 5 weeks off of any kind of training.  Why you might ask?  Well it all started when I was doing my aerobic base building back in june.  If you remember my post on the MAF method I was going to basically stop all anaerobic training like HIIT and weights and just concentrate on my slow running to try and build an aerobic base.  Something happened once I took out the anaerobic efforts, I started sleeping through the night again.  Let me back up a bit further, for about 2 months before that I had been waking up almost every night to pee in the middle of the night.  Typically it was around 4 am and I didn't think much about it.  I thought I was just drinking too much late at night, just getting old, who knows but I just didn't put 2 and 2 together.  Then when I started my MAF training the problem mysteriously went away and almost at the same time I read an article that basically said that it is not normal to get up in the middle of the night and is a sign of potential overtraining.  Since I had switched to just slow running and the sleep was better I continued on but then I had a week where I was just extremely fatigued around 5 pm.  I also noticed that I would sometimes get dizzy or light headed when standing quickly.  This is a symptom of a HPA axis problem, sometimes people call it Adrenal Fatigue.  That was the point where I decided I should just take an extended break from all training.

So basically I figured that I was over stressed, perhaps I had some cortisol dysregulation, but taking time off was just one part of my rest and recover strategy.  If you know me at all by now you will know that I typically go overboard when I'm presented a problem with my health.  Here is what I implemented.
  1. Quit all training
  2. Focused on sleep quality
  3. 3 meals a day, no fasting
  4. Increased carb consumption
  5. Quit coffee
  6. Meditation

First lets look at stress overall.  Your stress tolerance is like a bucket and it starts filling up from multiple sources.  Perhaps its poor diet, training, sleep, work, kids, Facebook, the list goes on and on but they all can contribute to your stress load and once your bucket is full and it starts to overflow things can start to go wrong.




  1. Quit all training - well duh captain obvious.  This is a big part of my personal bucket as I work out quite a bit and had been training hard up to the Spartan race in July.  However I wasn't about to just go sit on the couch and do nothing.  I replaced my workouts with walking in the sun, yoga and a little sauna.  I also continued my gymnastics bodies stretching routine.  At first I was just walking around the office building at lunch.  It was nice not having to go to the gym and it gave me a little more time to do things.  But it was almost too nice and I noticed that my desire to go to the gym started vanishing pretty quickly.  So I decided to keep up my routine of going to the gym at lunch, but instead of smashing some weights or running I would go outside where there are some nice trails and walk in the sun.  I would then stop at a bench and meditate for 5-10 mins (more on that later).  I would do the Yoga once a week and the sauna about 2-3 times a week but only for 10 mins.  The sauna is relaxing but it does still stress the body and if you have ever tracked your heart rate in the sauna you will know that it can get quite high (I've seen 120 bpm after 20 mins or so) so I didn't want to go crazy in there either.
  2. Focus on sleep quality - pretty simple you can read my post on sleep but I was paying closer attention to sleep quality and if I was waking up feeling refreshed and obviously noted if I had to get up and pee.
  3. 3 meals a day, no fasting - maybe some day I'll write a post about all the different kinds of fasting and the many benefits which is why I have and do fast occasionally.   But during a period of recovery is not the time to do it.  So 3 good square meals a day, you need to tell your body food is plentiful so don't worry about it.
  4. Increased carb consumption - wait, what, I know what you're thinking.  Increase the carbs???  This is really just for my situation.  I think in general most people should definitely cut back on carbs especially processed carbs and sugar.  However for me I already don't eat bread, pizza, sweets, cereal, pasta etc etc so I'm not getting all those carbs.  My carb sources are pretty much potatoes, fruit, starchy veg and maybe some rice.  I was probably around 100g a day of carbs.  Too low carb can be a stress on the body especially if you are doing a lot of anaerobic training.  I decided to bump carbs up a bit and especially on days that I trained anaerobically.  I don't know where I heard this but "You earn your carbs" pretty much sums it up.  If you are a cross fitter you might want to rethink that ketogenic diet.
  5. Quit coffee - pretty simple I stopped drinking coffee.  If I did have any cortisol issues not drinking any caffeine is advised.  Besides I went from never drinking coffee to a large cup a day pretty quickly and I think its good to reset from time to time.  I didn't drink any coffee over the 5 weeks and as of this writing I have just started drinking coffee on the weekends again.
  6. Meditation - I've played around with meditation quite a bit the last year or so but lately had fallen off the wagon.  The two apps I always recommend are Calm and Headspace.  This recovery period has gotten me back on the meditation wagon so I'm trying to meditate at least once a day for a minimum of 10 mins.  This time around I've been using Brain.FM, it uses sound wave frequencies to en train your brain to a certain state. I've found it is quite effective.  It is a subscription service and costs around $5 a month so if you're just interested in meditation maybe start with Calm or Headspace first.  However I also use Brain.FM at work as it has a focus option that I use when I'm coding.  It also has a sleep function that I haven't had a chance to try yet.  When I start training again I'll try to keep up with the meditation because if I can reduce stress I can in theory train harder.  Patience with my kids is also another benefit that I notice, it doesn't always work though ;).

Finally, I took a Dutch Test to make sure I didn't have any more serious Cortisol issues.  I'm also a sucker for any medical tests that can help me quantify myself.  If I had really screwed things up I could be looking at a year or more for complete recovery.  Dutch stands for Dried Urine Test For Comprehensive Hormones.  Basically you pee on some strips at different times of the day and they analyze those to get a proper Cortisol Curve for you.  Cortisol changes throughout the day so a single measurement is pretty useless.


My results were fairly normal and there is a ton more info in the full report including hormones like testosterone and estrogen.  You can see my metabolized cortisol is quite low and free cortisol is normal, this basically means I'm a slow metabolizer of cortisol.  This pattern points to a thyroid or liver issue, at least that's what the educational videos told me because I'm not a doctor.  I think I can safely rule out the thyroid and a poor functioning liver would line up nicely with my iron issues.  Perhaps it is possible that my iron overload is also causing my stress tolerance to be lower.  I'm not a doctor and I'm totally guessing but that seems totally logical to me.  I am still giving blood once a month for my iron overload and although my ferritin has now dropped to within normal range my iron saturation % is still quite high.



I'm hoping as my iron normalizes further and I'm assuming my liver function improves I'll be able to have a bigger stress bucket.

The five weeks are over and I feel pretty good right now, I'm sleeping well, I don't feel tired at all so I'm now ready to ramp up the training again.  No doubt I'll go from zero to full speed but now I'm going to be very vigilant for signs of over training and I need to listen to my body for signs that maybe I need an extra rest day.  To assist me with that I've started using the HRV4Training App - $10.



I'm not going to get into HRV right now as this post is already dragging on but HRV stands for Heart Rate Variability (its the measure of time between heart beats) and your reading in the morning can show you how stressed you are and if you're ready for a hard days training.  I have used an HRV app before but it required a heart rate strap and a 3 minute morning reading.  This just isn't going to fly when kids are waking up.  There is nothing more annoying for my wife than having crying kids and I have to lay there like a log for 3 minutes.  This is the first app I've seen that gets an accurate HRV reading from just the camera and it only takes a minute.  Maybe it's not as accurate as the strap and three minute reading but a reading I don't take is totally useless to me.

Finally I'm going to take 4 weeks off every year after my last spartan race.

Links/Resources
Sock Doc - Cortisol and sleep

bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast - what-is-the-dutch-test/

garmaonhealth.com - Adrenal Fatigue tests you can do at home

marksdailyapple.com - 8 Signs you are overtraining

chriskresser.com - why you may need to exercise less

Selfhacked - Reasons your cortisol is low or high


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

2017 Fitness Goal - Indiana Spartan Race Recap

2017 Fitness Goal complete.  I completed the Indiana Spartan Sprint.  As you can see Elliot and Oliver also did the kids race.


I had an absolute blast at this event and I far exceeded my expectations as far as results go.  Here is the course I was looking at.  Perfect Slopes is a ski resort west of Cincinnati, Ohio


Before I get too far I have to give props to my amazing wife Shannon.  Since many of you are likely to get bored by my race recap I think its only fair that I give her a proper thanks right up front.  She has always fully supported everything I've done whether it was automobile racing, poker or this latest obsession of mine fitness.  And trust me when I say obsession, I tend to dive in head first with blinders on and my family ends up taking a hit.  Its not just the event itself where she has to take care of the boys while I'm running around but I do a fair amount of training.  I'm sure my wife is over me doing mobility and stretching seemingly every night.  I think at times she just would just like me to sit down for two seconds and not be sprawled out on a mat, rolling on a foam roller or sticking various appendages into ice buckets.  Although she might be embarrassed by her voice on some of the videos below it really feels good to hear her encouraging me and having my twin boys there.  One of the things I enjoyed most about this event was that the family could get involved as well, something that isn't possible without a supportive wife.  Thanks.

We got to the event with plenty of time before my 11:45 am start, checked in and got registered.  Boys looked thrilled to be there.



The Elite and Competitive Groups had already ran and I was one of the earlier groups in the afternoon Open heat.  It is basically everybody and anybody and there was an extremely wide range of abilities on course.  After the initial exuberance of the start had worn off I was definitely in the minority by going over anything over walking pace.  My basic strategy was to run very slow and steady and save my energy for the unknown obstacles.  When I say unknown I mean obstacles that I had no idea how difficult they were.  What I did discover is that I was pretty good on the downhill sections and I made sure I always ran the downhills as that seemed like a real waste of time if you walked the downhill parts.  If I did any walking it would be on the uphills.  Below is the start of my wave I'm in there somewhere.



I got through the first almost 2 miles pretty easily in about 31 mins, that included lots of hills, various walls, the monkey bars and the A-Frame.  The monkey bars were different heights so I almost missed one but once I got in a rhythm it was not too bad.  Smacking that bell at the end of the monkey bars was quite liberating.  I was a little wobbly over the top of the A-Frame as it is quite high up and I have a fear of heights.  Then there was a long downhill run to the Herc Hoist.




The Herc Hoist was down in the spectator area so this was the first time Shannon and the boys got to see me.  It also meant I had checked out this obstacle earlier and I was already worried it was going to be too heavy for me.  I had seen men much larger than me struggle with this obstacle.  I put my foot on the fence and used it as leverage to pull the rope down.  It was heavy and my pathetic body weight was not helping much.  I quickly noticed the familiar voice of my wife cheering me on.  The thought of my wife watching with my twin boys onlooking meant there was no way in hell I was going to drop this thing if it was physically possible.  It ended up going up pretty easily after that.




Next up was the barbed wire crawl which was up a hill.  It was long, maybe a hundred yards in length and the last 20 yards were being sprayed down by a large water sprayer so it was just a sloppy muddy mess.  The barbed wire is low enough that you can't go on your hands and knees.  You can take a small break in between the wires but you are basically doing a low military crawl all the way.  The other option is to roll sideways but I decided against that because it was uphill.  I think downhill this is definitely the way to go.  One aspect of the race I enjoyed was the camaraderie of the event.  During the barb wired crawl I spent much of the time next to a guy who was going the same speed as me.  He let me know when I was free of some wire that got caught in my shorts and I did the same for him when he got tangled near the top.  At the top we paused briefly to give each other a quick hand slap and then moved on.  All around the course there would be people helping each other over walls and up slip walls.



After the barbed wire crawl it was back downhill to the spectator area for the multi rig which in this case was about 10 gymnastic rings.




However I had watched this one earlier as well and they had raised the bell up at the end of the rings and a lot of people were struggling to hit the bell.  The best technique seemed to be to swing from one arm to another and get enough momentum to swing up and easily hit the bell.  As you'll see in the video this plan went quickly out the window when I ended up on one ring with 2 hands.  I traversed sideways from there but once on the last ring I could not muster the energy to get up to the bell and hit it.



This was my first failed obstacle and introduced me to burpee hell.  I was already tired and the 30 burpees really did a number on me.  I did get through them but in the relatively comical video series below you'll see how I looked as the 30 went on.







Right after that was the sandbag carry, up a hill, turn and back down.  If I had to guess I'd say the sandbag was around 50lbs.  It was certainly heavy for me and I just stuck my head down and focused on not stopping.  I certainly didn't want to put it down because getting it back up on my shoulder would have taken a lot of effort.  I switched shoulders on the downhill so I didn't have to drop it and wobbled back to the drop off point.





After that right back to running up the hills.  At this point I was walking the up hills, the rings, burpee, sandbag combo took a lot out of me.  By the time I got to the rope climb though I was in decent shape again.  The rope had no knots and I used the climbing technique I learnt at cultybraggan army camp in Scotland as a whee lad.  I didn't quite get the grip I would have liked from my feet and legs and had to still use a lot of upper body but I got up and down and avoided burpee hell.

It was then off downhill to the 7 foot wall.  I kept to my strategy of running the downhills and as flew past the people walking I approached the wall, as I saw people helping each over the wall I thought to myself how cool would it be to come flying in and just hop right over.  I ran in took one hop off the front of the wall, grabbed the top and pulled myslef to the top and slid right over.  I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself until I realized I had racked my family jewels on the top showing off.  The stomach ache I had carried me to the next obstacle the spear throw.

I had no idea what to do here but I grabbed the spear, pretended to aim, took a few steps and launched it like Daley Thompson trying not to get caught in the return line.


I got a "good throw" from the cheap seats as it veered left and clipped the outside of the target.  It has to stick in the target so 30 more burpees for me.  Lets just say compared to my early burpee form it was now starting to degrade greatly and I think honestly if it were being judged I'm not sure how many would have counted.  I did however complete 30 of some sort of weird ground humping motion.

I then came to a wall traverse.  The wall wasn't quite vertical but had a pretty steep angle to it.  I had the options of small chains, a few holes cut in the wall and plastic rock climbing style grips.  Fortunately I had watched a video on this one and he simply got his legs up high so his feet were on the wall and used the chains to hold onto, pretty simple.  


However back on the planet earth instead of unicorn land I had to quickly abandon the chain grip as I couldn't hold on to it.  I went with the holes and twice I almost lost it and my feet slipped off the wall.  However the thought of 30 more burpees was in my mind and this was right up there with the "your family is watching you" motivational inner talks.  I made it barely and I was flooded with relief when I hit that bell.

After that came the bucket carry, I had been dreading this one a bit especially after the sandbag carry.  However the course seemed quite short to me based on videos I had seen before.  I did put the bucket down once but had I known how close to the finish I was I probably would have just gritted that one out.  Still it wasn't too bad I was expecting about twice the distance.

Then on the back side of the course was a lot of mud and water and the dunk wall.  The hardest part there was trying to get up the slippery muddy slopes with nothing to hold on to.  Eventually I got to the slip wall that was right after a water crossing.  



This was the one obstacle that had lines at it.  You had to grab a knotted rope and climb up the wall.  However there were a few ropes with no lines, these were much shorter and you had to run and jump to grab one.  I went with the no line option and I was able to grab the rope and climb up.  The rope had knots in it that I used to climb up but right at the top I was out of knots and I couldn't reach the top.  I eventually wrapped the rope around my arm to stop from slipping off and I was able to grab the top and climb over.

Finally after another up hill run the final obstacle was a new one: the twister.  Well they were all new to me but apparently this one was new this year.  Its a bit like a corkscrew of handles that you try to traverse across.  See below the bar with the handles on it spins.





I got half way across and the grip gave out.  30 more burpees but with the finish line in sight they weren't too awful.



Results

For Comparison sake here are the overall Elite winners


And the fastest times for my age group from the men's competitive wave


If I had been in the competitive wave I would have finished 11th/25 for my age group.  With no idea how I would fare I was really happy with that.  Below is my strava data of the run.



As I mentioned earlier the boys did the kids race.  They had a blast and I was a super proud dad as I wasn't sure how they would like it.  There were 3 different lengths of kid races so they had stuff for ages 4-14.  They did the 1/2 mile course for ages 4-8.

Ready to go


Start




Wall


Kids barbed wire (net)


Oliver running


Elliot on A frame



Finished


We came, we saw, got our t-shirts, medals and a bag full of muddy clothes, mission complete.


I'm definitely hooked and I will certainly do this event again next year and maybe add one other race, we'll see.


Links/Resources

2017 Indiana Spartan Sprint

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

2017 Fitness Goal - Indiana Spartan Race Preview

If you have been following my blog for a while you will know I like to pick a different fitness goal for each year.  This year I've picked one that is pretty binary.  Its not a metric I can work up to overtime but simply I either complete the Indiana Spartan Sprint on July 8th or I don't.  I think the hope initially was that I wouldn't have yet another goal that would take me 2 or 3 years to complete. Now I'm starting to wonder what I've got myself into.


So what the heck is a Spartan Race?  Its simply a running race typically over trail like conditions with usually lots of hills and a bunch of obstacles thrown in.  There are 3 lengths, Sprint, Super and Beast

Sprint - 3-5 miles 20-23 obstacles
Super - 8-10 miles 24-29 obstacles
Beast - 12-14 miles 30-35 obstacles

Naturally I've signed up for the easiest of the 3, the Sprint race.  Plus the Indiana Spartan race only offers the Sprint not that I have an inclination to do the longer events at this time.  At first I thought 3-5 miles with 20 obstacles sounded relatively tame, but once I started looking at the finishing times from last years event I realized it was going to be a bit tougher than I initially thought.  There are 3 classes Open, Competitive & Elite.  I'm in the Open class.  Here are the fastest times for my age group (45-49) from last years 2016 Indiana Sprint.

Class 1st 10th
Open 1:27:08 1:51:28
Competitive 1:27:08 1:51:28
Elite 1:04:08 1:15:32

Looks they might have combined Open and Competitive.  Ultimately the goal is just to finish first and perhaps 3 hours is a reasonable first time goal (assuming I finish).  I really have no clue what to expect time wise but I do know that it is going to be longer than I first imagined when I signed up for the event.  Oh and did I mention the penalty for an obstacle failure is 30 burpees.  I'm not sure if you have done a burpee lately but doing 30 of them once is pretty taxing in its own right.  Below is one burpee.


With my inexperience it is quite likely that I will fail a lot of obstacles and I could easily have to do 100's of burpees.  Read about this poor guy that DNF'd his Sprint race because he was crushed by burpees.

So what kind of obstacles are there going to be?  Its not always the same obstacles and they can add and change them as they see fit.  But here are some of the more common obstacles I will likely be encountering.













Cargo Net


Multi Rig






Atlas stone







I think its safe to say I'm going to struggle on all the strength based obstacles.  At 145lbs with a skinny frame I'm not really built for strength.  Don't worry so far I'm not that great at running either. I've worked a lot on grip strength as that can benefit me everywhere, but overall I think my failure rate is going to be pretty high.  I've come a long way on things like the monkey bars but shoulder mobility is still an issue.  I'm also going to likely miss things like the spear throw as I'm just going to wing that.  I threw a Javelin once 30 years ago so I'm going to pretend that will carry me through.  I also climbed a rope once at an army base in Scotland when I was 13.  I still remember the technique taught by the British Army back then and that's what I will be using.  Naturally I haven't actually climbed a rope since then.  Obviously I've been doing some burpees as I have to figure I'm potentially looking at doing a couple of hundred or so.  This last month I'm working on just my aerobic engine with one more session with my trainer which will definitely be anaerobic.  I'm continuing my grip workouts though and of course lots of mobility still with Gymnastic Bodies stretching series.

Here are the hills and terrain I will be dealing with.


Finally I made the mistake of watching the documentary "Rise of the Sufferfests" and it put a new perspective of what I might be in for.  Fortunately I won't have to deal with freezing water as I don't do well in the cold, of course I might change my mind when its the middle of the day in July. 



We will see how woefully unprepared I am.  I'm going to channel my inner Shannon "The Canon" Briggs, let's go Champ!




I'm signed up with a team (Midwest Justice League) as a coworker has a team that runs this event and this ensures we will start together.  At least there will be someone to drag my limp body to the finish if necessary.  Start time is TBA.

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