Monthly Archives: March 2016

One Month Out

Race season is upon us.  My family and I spent Saturday morning stationed on the side of Queens Rd West cheering on runners in the Corporate Cup 5k/half marathon.  I feel so inspired watching people run in these races.  I also have to admit, it is kind of nice to be on the sidelines enjoying a coffee with no pressure to perform.  I will use that as my segway into today’s post.  I am one month out from my first two races of 2016.


I have talked a lot about how I am working to help other people train for future races on the blog; therefore, I have placed talking about my own racing in the back seat.  That said, I would like to pick back up describing my training as it leads into my upcoming competitions, so my readers can follow my preparation.  So what’s on the calendar?  The Cooper River Bridge Run (10K) and the Charlotte Sprint Spartan Race (elite heat).


I’m not going to lie, my approach to training for my first running and Spartan Race of the new year has been in many ways significantly different than last year.  For one, I’m further out from having delivered my second child.  Remember, it has still been less than a year since my daughter was born.  Even my husband admits that he continues to see gains in my performance directly as a result of time passing (that’s it).

Monday – Flywheel 

My cross training day.  Nothing beats getting on the bike to reset my focus and shut everything around me down.  I teach two classes on Monday –  6:30 AM and 10:45 AM.  I ride to what I teach.  By the end of my second class, my legs are beat.  I have said it once, I will say it again:  Riding the bike is a great cross training tool for runners to build endurance, leg strength, and anaerobic thresholds.  I will never let it go.


Tuesday – Strength and Conditioning

While I still utilize my home gym, my workouts have evolved.  It was during 2016 that I completed my Spartan SGX certification and I found a great group of women to workout with at Stax (a crossfit gym in Charlotte).  I forgot how important the push is from having a workout partner.  On days that I am exhausted, I find that if I show up to workout with these women, I get a much better workout in than I would have by myself.  The workouts are total body, but many of the movements mimic strength building exercises of a Spartan Race (pull ups, rope climbing, box jumps, sled pushes).


Tuesday’s and Thursday’s have also now been reserved for my time to train others in Spartan racing.  I strictly train others.  I do not workout when they are working out.  I will do the workout that they do on my own time.  I am incredibly excited about this program, the facility and the impact that it should make on the community and the obstacle racing sport.  It is in the next four weeks that we will start to train specific obstacles as we phase into the first Charlotte race of the season.


Wednesday – Running

One of my biggest takeaways from the Asheville Super Spartan race was that I wasn’t as prepared for the run as I should have been.  I got passed on the downhills.  I had to walk on some of the extreme uphills (we are talking mountains here).  While the obstacles are a big piece of the race, you can make up (or lose) a lot of ground in your run.  My injury created an urgency for me to get better at my run.  I developed speed (on the track) and hill training workouts.  The purpose of the speed workouts is essentially to teach my legs how to carry that faster turnover through intervals.  Trust me, you can’t expect yourself to run faster in a race if your legs don’t know what fast feels like.


I ran my most recent speed workout around a park nearby our house.  Relatively flat.  See workout below.

  • Warm up – 3/4 mile jog, increasing speed each 1/4 mile
  • Upon reaching park, dynamic stretch, form running drills
  • 2 x 800 – 3:10-3:15, 2 minutes rest in between
  • 6 x 400 – 1:30 target, 1 minute 30 seconds rest in between
  • Cool down – 3/4 mile jog, decreasing speed each mile
  • Static stretch, foam roll

Thursday – Strength and Conditioning/Flywheel

I am now spending Thursday specifically completing a Spartan SGX workout.  While I love my time with the women at Stax, it is imperative that I really start hammering power and agility as it relates to the upcoming races.  Since the workouts are included on Wodify, if I can’t get to the gym to complete a training session, we now have most equipment at home to get what I need to get done on my own.  I made out in a close out sale this week for a national exercise equipment manufacturer and distributor.


See my most recent post on Spartan SGX training that details what these workouts entail.  If you would like to learn more about them, please reach out to me.  I would love to continue to share workouts, but that wouldn’t make you want to show up!

Friday – Long Run, Steady State

My idea of a long run is not what you are thinking.  Long for me equals five to six miles.  Steady state means relaxed, controlled, enjoyable.  I am working on mileage here and not trying to press heart rate and anaerobic thresholds.  I do this to teach my body what it feels like to run six miles.  Simple as that.

Saturday – Mobility/Recovery

Saturday is recovery (which I used to not do much of).  I spend Saturday doing mobility exercises, fascia release, body maintenance, and drills that my physical therapist and movement specialist have given me to practice keeping my body loose.  Sounds weird maybe, but I swear by it.  My husband and I recently did a yoga class together on our family trip to Florida.


Sunday – Flywheel

With a recovery day Saturday, I am ready to ride Sunday.  If you know me, you know I covet my 6:30/7:30 AM Sunday Flywheel classes.  I know almost everyone that walks through the door.  I know they work hard.  I love getting up to see them each week.  They are all so unique.  They all inspire me to ride harder.  If you decide to check this class out, please stop and introduce yourself to me.


In the grand scheme of things it seems like a lot, but it’s not.  My anticipation of both races is building.  I am starting to get a little pre-race anxiety.  To be honest, I didn’t think I would ever get my shoulder back to where it is this quickly.  It is kind of surreal that I will be diving back in, in just a few weeks.


So What is Spartan Training?

The paperwork is in!  I am officially a certified Spartan SGX coach.  With a personal training prerequisite, this certification officially allows me to use the Spartan SGX name when marketing specific classes designed for obstacle races.  The thing is the “sport” is so new to this area that it is about time someone explains why you might want to train, or simply use the training, to make racing or every day life easier.12821613_10104133957542803_7477580119651217040_n.jpg

Let me give you a brief background.  The “Spartan” methodology is based on seven pillars. The seven pillars just happen to be ordered in the manner of the word Spartan.

Stamina – Developing endurance and strong conditioning.  Stamina is not just being able to run for long durations, but alactic for quick bursts, and lactic for sustained, intense pushes.

Power – Used to complete obstacles as well as the EMPOWERMENT derived from completing a race.

Athleticism – Through training, a functionally balanced individual.  A functionally balanced individual can do everything well.  You can be good at running, but if you don’t have power obstacles will be difficult (and vice versa).

Readiness – Are you ready for what obstacles you might encounter during a race or life in general?  Teaching your mind to handle the unexpected without anxiety is an important way to approach racing and life.

Tenacity – NEVER QUIT.  Simple as that. This, again, applies to all aspects of life.

Attitude – Surround yourself with people that motivate you, inspire you and push you forward.  Remove the negativity.  It only affects your attitude.

Nutrition – I hate to say it, but it is something we all need to focus on.

The background of the program has been built on the seven pillars.  Through the training and coaching program, the goal is to help individuals not only be prepared to finish a Spartan Race, but also, be a better human being (in all aspects of life).  Hence why I say, this training doesn’t need to be done with the ultimate goal being the race.

Strength Workout

With the background in mind, know that a typical training week includes two strength workouts that are based on a phased approach.  The first phase is based on body weight and animal movements, second phase on metabolic conditioning and various weighted exercises (including TRX, Bosu, and rings), and third phase power and metabolic conditioning.  See below for two recent workouts performed at the Harris Y Spartan SGX class.


Phase 2 Strength Workout

  • Warm Up
    • Hip Flexor Stretch
    • 10 Body Weight Squats
    • Bear Crawl Down/Backs
    • Lunge Down/Back
    • Shoulder Pass Through
  • For Weight 2 rounds
    • 5 RDL each leg
    • 5 Goblet Squat
  • Back Squat Progression
    • 1 x10 50%, 3 x 5 70%, 4 x 4 85% 1 Rep Max
  • Metabolic Conditioning 3 rounds
    • 10 Step Ups each leg
    • Sled Push
    • Hip Bridge x 10 each leg
    • Calf Raise x 20 each leg
  • 30 race burpees for time – 3 rounds

Phase 1 Workout

  • Animal movements – focus is mobility, less on speed, 3 rounds:
    • :30 work, :30 rest
    • Ape (side traveling)
    • Bear Crawl
    • Crab Walk
    • Inchworm with push up
  • Front Squat
    • 10×3 Ascending Weight
  • 3 rounds each station
    • :40 work, :20 rest
    • Rowing (cals)
    • Heavy Farmer Walk (m)
    • Burpee (Reps)
    • KB Swing (Reps)


I want you to notice a few things about the workouts and the pictures above.

  • The Spartan SGX workout from the Harris YMCA is included in Wodify.  It is comparable to a Crossfit workout with some major differences.  We will not be doing any overhead cleans, jerks, pushes using a bar.
  • There is a bigger emphasis on conditioning, since the ultimate goal is to race.  While strength is a major focus on these days, several of the strength building exercises will significantly test metabolic thresholds and heart rates.
  • The room is kind of a fusion of Orangetheory and a Crossfit Box.  There are rowers, bikes, treadmills, rigs, plyo boxes, sleds, sandbags, etc.  Rope climbing is done in the gymnastics room with the ability to utilize the outdoor track.

Running (Cross-Training) Workout

The ultimate goal for someone competing in a Spartan Race is to be able to run the race, at least partially.  For some people, walking is the only option.  That is fine.  Running and/or cross-training makes up 2-3 days of the program.  I oftentimes complete one sprint/hill workout, 1 long steady state run, and a few Flywheel classes a week.  The great thing about the cardio piece is that it can be easily modified.


Final Talking Points

I continue to get several questions about scheduling, pricing, etc.  Here is the run down:

  • Spartan SGX strength classes are now offered at the Harris YMCA (the only Spartan SGX sanctioned location in all of Charlotte) every Tuesday/Thursday at 10:45AM and 6:00 PM.  Both workouts are the same.
  • If you are a Y member participating in the Fit Challenge, classes are free this month!  FREE!  If you are not a Y member, the cost is $75/month (8 sessions total).
  • Free childcare.
  • The first Charlotte race is the Spartan Sprint on April 9th-10th.  The Spartan SGX training group from the Harris Y will run a group on Saturday.
  • Through training with me, you are eligible with a 20% discount on your race fee.  Based on pricing for races, that 20% will cover a decent part of the monthly fee you pay to train.  No brainer right?



Some Rest & Relaxation

It has been almost a year since the birth of my second daughter.  It is extremely hard for me to believe that by the end of 2016, I will have both a 1 and 3 three year old.  I’m telling you, I still feel like it was yesterday when I graduated from college.  The years keeping going by, but my mind just keeps pressing on.  In the past year, I have undergone significant physical, career and mental changes – all without a real vacation.


I don’t know what you consider vacation, but let me lay out my idea of a perfect week off.  Rest.  Drinks. Good Food.  Lots of Laughs.  Warm Weather.  A little bit of exercise. Most importantly – restoration.  My husband’s parents own a condo in Florida that they spend a better part of the winter residing in.  Thankfully, they invited us to come visit, with little to no agenda and free babysitting services.  Traveling with two kids, on an airplane, is nothing like the days when we used to book a last minute flight and scoot in as the door was shutting.  There is a process.  It’s long, and it’s kind of stressful, but it sure is fun.


The girls were incredible.  They observed everything going on around them.  They waved and made friends with those sitting near them.  They cooperated in security.  They made the situation just a little bit easier.


The weather was not as warm as we would have liked it to be, but when you are used to 30 and 40 degree days, the 60’s and 70’s aren’t so bad.  We spent one solid morning with the girls on the beach.  The last time that we had been to a beach was in May of the preceding year.  The girls know what the beach is, but it took them time to grasp the texture of the sand on their feet, the crashing of the waves, and the messiness of the wet sand sticking to their body.

We may have only made it a solid hour and a half to two hours, but by the end of those two hours both girls were more willing to let their feet dangle in the water and crawl around excitedly in the sand.  We are looking forward to what our next beach trip will bring.



We only made it out to the beach one other day during our stay.  With the weather being so cool, trying to take the girls out in a bathing suit wasn’t the ideal situation.  That said, we kept them busy.  When they weren’t spending time with Mimi and Papa going for walks, going out for breakfast or playing in the gazebo outside, we were engaging them any way possible.



We made use out of several local playgrounds.  We also took an afternoon trip to Gulfstream Race Track – if you are unfamiliar, horse racing.  It’s quite popular in our family.  It was at the track, that we attempted several family photos.  None of which were successful.  The emotions on each person’s face in each photo were typical.


We left the track after our oldest daughter had several meltdowns, ultimately the result of two days with no nap.  We decided on the way out that we would stop at Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor on the way home.  We had been there before.  Let me forewarn you.  We knew what we are getting ourselves in to. We gave up sweets for Lent with the understanding that we would cheat at Jaxson’s and on Morgan’s Birthday.  We prepared.  We didn’t eat lunch.  We went in with an appetite.  Our oldest slept in the van, while our youngest, my husband, my mother-in-law and myself sat down at a small table and ordered our incredible three scoop sundaes.

IMG_8795You may think that I’m lying to you when I tell you that my husband ate all of his banana split (pictured above).  He ate all of his banana split.  I love how they place a small American flag at the top of each sundae, like somehow it is American to indulge in such an outrageously large bowl of dessert.

IMG_8786I opted for a chocolate mint parfait. Again, American Flag.  My weakness is chocolate.  I tried.  I tried with every thing in me to eat this entire thing.  Believe it or not, the surge of a sugar high pushed me over the edge before my stomach felt full.  I felt like I had drank 5 cups of coffee.  It was just too much.  I gave up.  This is so much a part of my vacation.



We stopped to pose for pictures out front, again, as my oldest daughter slept in the car with her Papa.  Too bad.  She woke up as we were all leaving.  We did get her a “to-go” cone and a side of her favorite guacamole from Chipotle.  She wasn’t mad.  While I have that picture up – let me note, we have never watched Frozen before, but she knows who Elsa is and she would wear that shirt all day every day if we would let her.  It is practically impossible to get it off her just to wash it.


With my in-laws available to watch the girls, my husband and I got so much quality time (which we need).  I tell this man all the time how lucky I am that we made this commitment to each other.  I told him again on this trip.  Life sure has changed, but it just seems like no matter what happens, as long as we are working, everything else will.  One thing is for sure – we both love fitness and we both love food.


We spent Friday night, hopping around a few local bars and even a local brewery, before settling down for dinner at a seafood restaurant right near the water.  It was cold.  We were tourists.  We might not show it, but we could have used another layer in the picture above.


We started early enough that we were home shortly after nine.  How’s that for date night?  There is always something on our agenda.  We had a commitment to attend my sister-in-law’s (Lindsay) barre and yoga class the next morning.  Oh boy.


My husband left for a run as I was starting barre class.  I’m ashamed.  I haven’t done a barre class in almost three years.  I did better than I thought I would, but I was humbled.  I was happy that we had both committed to yoga afterwards.  I forgot how much I enjoy faster flow vinyasa.  The view of the water above was what I stared at as I worked through almost two hours of light and body weight movements.  It was refreshing.


We “monkeyed” around a little bit before heading back to see the girls.  This was my first time taking Lindsay’s class.  I was impressed.  Her confidence is not to be outdone by her friendliness.  She is fun.  She engages.  She makes people feel comfortable.  Check her out if you haven’t been.  We did one other workout on our trip.  A strength workout that I posted to Instagram.  It was tough.  Other than that, we opted to go on a short run together and take the rest of our time off.  Restoration is SO important to growth.


We are extremely thankful for my husband’s family in Florida – both his parents and our sister Lindsay.  It is always hard to take a break from your own routine to have guests for an extended period of time.  For that we are grateful.  The girls are still taking about their trip.  We all needed a break, and we all go that.