Tag Archives: spartan race training

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.

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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).

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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Putting All of the Pieces Together

I have loved hearing the feedback from my Spartan Race Recap.  I have to say, the purpose of the details was to drive people to challenge themselves (in a physical and mental way).  I know the aspects of the course seem overwhelming, but these races are truly something that anyone can do, as long as they are willing to work hard.  I have had so many great conversations with people post race that I myself am ready to help build teams to develop the necessary strengths to help each other complete a race.  There is no better feeling than finishing something that you have to ask your self over and over why you are doing it.  It is empowering.  There are so many aspects that went into my training.  I have talked about it a lot, but let me take a second to go over the key things that helped get me in the shape that I needed to be in.

Strength Based Obstacle Training Workouts 

I did ALOT of stuff at home by myself.  This was a challenge.  I didn’t have a choice.  With time constraints, babies and my husband needing to get his own workout in, I had to be creative with what we had.  I studied ways to train obstacles at home, I looked at the Spartan website for inspiration and I had my husband put together heavy carry weight loads.  We made our own sandbags and bought rocks to resemble the “bucket brigade”.

IMG_5905I bought a pull up band and vowed to be able to do several pull ups (on my own and with the band).  You don’t necessarily need to be able to do a pull up to be able to complete this race.  Using a band to train the muscle group is a great place to start.  You can take these anywhere.  They are light weight.

IMG_6539I loved getting strength back into my routine.  I mean heavy strength.  Our world is engrossed with all different forms of expensive exercise now.  We didn’t have that 10 years ago.  I took it back to the basics.  Squats, Deadlifts, Curls, Etc.  I wanted to look strong, and actually be strong.

SmartCore Fitness

As a spin off to my at home strength workouts, I completed high intensity core conditioning circuits that I trained people with at SmartCore Fitness.  That is right.  The same workouts that I was running people through, I was doing myself as an integral part of my training.  This is SO important.  The modifications that we do at SmartCore truly hit little muscle groups that you just don’t hit doing the basic squat, deadlifts, curl, etc.  that I mentioned above.  We even put a twist on the traditional burpee, so individuals can get more out of the exercise.

IMG_6738What exactly do I mean?  I watched several people fail the obstacle above.  I thought about SmartCore the entire time.  Something like this is easy, after you have done exercises at SmartCore like the one pictured below.

10676288_1017457828268109_4380843576956392308_nThe exercise that Denise is doing above requires intense balance  as you lunge forward with each step while properly holding the dumbbell overhead.  We throw you off even more by making you walk in a straight line on a raised beam.  There is a set path with a lot less room for error, requiring intense focus.  Sometimes building a strong foundation, also requires building mental focus.  We do that at SmartCore too – there are truly exercises that you can do that require you to ultimately focus rather than rep through heavy weight lifting.

11866247_1227514800595743_5851964667333063989_nTry doing a traditional burpee with the added instability of a Bosu and the additional weight for the overhead press up.   Once you have done several of these, you feel like an old pro when doing the old fashioned burpee.  SmartCore is forming it’s own team for the Spartan Race in April.  I plan to run with the team.  Commit to the team and you will commit to finishing.  I guarantee it.  Bootcamps every Saturday or Tuesday can help you hit the high intensity transition from exercise to exercise while still getting the benefit of the non-traditional SmartCore training session.  It’s worth a try!

Flywheel

I can’t say enough about how important cross training is.  I strength trained several days a week.  Even in an 8-10 mile race, I didn’t need to run that much if I was riding a decent amount.  Yes, you heard me right.  Gone are the days that people assume that you need to run every day to be able to do a running race.  In fact, strength training and cross training are such an integral part of avoiding overuse injuries.  Believe me, I have had many of them.

IMG_6658Being on the bike takes out the impact of a long road run.  Your body needs this.  The best part is that on the bike you can do any workout that you would do on the road (and probably burn more calories!).  So, say you want to do a hill workout.  You can do that on the bike.  Crank up the torq (resistance) on your hill climbs.  This is an interval based ride.  You WILL build leg strength necessary for the intense climbs that you will encounter in a Spartan Race.  I was surprised at how steep were.  Flywheel has such an amazing variety of instructors (see picture above).  See what its all about.

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Running

You can’t get by without doing some running prior this race – well, maybe with a sprint you could, but that is not a good idea.  Training high intensity intervals, hills and strategically placing long recovery runs is important.  I did end up doing a lot of runs by myself.  This was simply because I would typically do “track”esque runs or runs where I would stop do a bunch of hard exercises then start again.  It wasn’t your typical idea of just going out for a run.

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I would love to set up a team that I could train that could do this part together.  It’s so hard to push yourself on your own.  That said, on days that I didn’t want to run by myself, I most likely ended up at a FiA running workout. #BetterTogether is so true.

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In summary, I found motivation through variety and a great group of people around me.  It’s easy to stay on track when you are doing the right things and you are around positive people.  Even with the stress of staying on track, the experience was incredible.  I will do it again.  I will take it seriously.  I will try to compete with some of the best.  I don’t plan on changing much about the way I train, and I would love nothing more than to help train others to reach the point that they start and complete a challenge.  It doesn’t have to be a race but it could be a goal that seemed far way.  If you initiate the discussion, we can make it work!

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Creative Ways To Work Out + Taking On A “Coaching” Role

I know, I know.  I keep bringing up this Spartan Race.  With a little less than two months before the big day, I am starting to get a little nervous about my decision to sign up.  Instead of opting to run the open heat with the intention to complete and have a good time, my husband talked me into signing up for the “elite” heat.  The elite heat is designed for the athletes that are competing in the event for a cash prize.  They are the best of the best.  While I feel confident that I can complete, my competitiveness is driving me to want to see how I fall out against people who train for the event on a consistent basis (and get paid).

IMG_5905Let me introduce you to the newest addition to our home gym – bucket full of rocks and homemade sandbags.  Of the approximately 25 obstacles that we will encounter over our 8+ mile run, there are certain tasks that stand out more than others.  Why?  Because if you don’t complete them, you get disqualified.  In every other exercise, you can take a 30 burpee penalty. That said, my plan is to train these obstacles so hard that I can dominate people when they can’t just take the penalty.

  • Sandbag carry – While we have no idea how far we will have to carry sandbags (or the weight), I know that it could be for up to a half a mile uphill and downhill.  One of our sandbags weighs 38 pounds.  Instead of paying a ridiculous amount of money online to get a special Spartan sandbag, we opted to buy a bag of sand from Lowes, wrap it with thick duct tape and brand our homemade weight with an F3 sticker.
  • Bucket Brigade – Again, this obstacle is mandatory to complete.  We have to fill the bucket with gravel or sand to a designated line and carry the full bucket along a prescribed route.  They check the bucket to make sure you didn’t “lose” a few rocks along the way.  You cannot carry the bucket on your head, neck or shoulders.  My bucket full of rocks currently weighs 50 pounds.

IMG_5855My post workout battle scars are an indication of my effort level.  My first workout using the new equipment is below.  I have to admit, my brute strength is there.  I carry around two kids a good chunk of the day.  I surprised myself with my ability to push through.

  • Warm up – 5 minutes jump rope
  • Side Jump Burpee x 10 each side – I jumped over a small weight on the ground (it’s all I had, and it worked).
  • Step Up with Sandbag x 20 each side – I hoisted one sandbag on my left shoulder for 20 reps, before switching sides for 20 reps.
  • Pull-up x 10 – Do what you can.  I used a band for several of these.
  • Box Jump x 20
  • Bucket Brigade (rock carry) x10 down the driveway and back up – I altered walked this distance with our Garmin on and found that the distance was exactly a quarter mile.
  • Burpee x 20
  • Pull-up x10
  • Sandbag Squat Throw x 20
  • Sandbag Push Press x 10
  • Repeat the circuit above

I followed up the workout with the following set of abs. Repeat 3-4 times.

  • 10 crunches
  • 10 laying leg raises
  • 10 crunches
  • 10 V-sits
  • 10 crunches
  • 10 mountain climbers
  • 10 crunches
  • 10 bicycles
  • 10 crunches
  • 100 second plank – this will get you!

IMG_5861While I have been working out in the early morning, I have also been spending the first part of the day taking my girls to the park as soon as I can get them out the door.  Sometimes as early as when dad leaves for work.  My oldest daughter must be taking our cue on obstacle training.  She has started to climb.  Literally.  Ladders, steps, whatever she can get up on.  She amazes me.  She is focused and loves the challenge.  I am scared.

IMG_5858To keep up with her, I have started toting our youngest in the Baby Bjorn around the playground.  I simply can’t push the stroller fast enough.  Having the infant strapped to my chest gives me the freedom that I need to “spot” our oldest as she monkeys around on the playground.

IMG_5851She will be running Spartan races or doing pole vault before I know it.  This leads me into my next exciting piece of news.  I have finalized registration to coach a Girls on The Run team this fall.  Sports, and most importantly, running, have played such a tremendous role in my development.  The confidence and leadership skills that can be gained through positive activities throughout life are so important.  With limited time, any volunteer work that I undertake has to be something extremely special to me.  This decision was easy.  I can’t wait to give back to other girls how special running made and still makes me feel.  I am hopeful that as I continue with the program, my girls will also want to find a place on a team.

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I have to admit, the last time that I “coached” a running group was (gasp) 5 years ago.  I helped a friend of mine train a half marathon group to both pace and finish a half marathon.  Girls on The Run is so not about competition, so I am looking forward to a change of pace.  I plan to have the girls out at the track with me (and a sitter) when I am with the team.  I want them to see how fun running can be. I literally couldn’t be more thrilled that I will also be coaching the school that my kids will eventually call their own elementary school.

IMG_5873Since having baby number two (who is now raising her head and legs no problem while on her tummy), my life has taken a complete 180.  I left my full time job to spend more time with my kids.  In the process, the opportunities that have come my way have been overwhelming and such a welcome blessing.  I am excited about the future, and I am more excited that my girls will be there for a more significant part of the ride.

Working Hard to Keep Up + Celebrations

Things have been busy!  Finding time to blog has been difficult.  I hate to make excuses, but I feel like an explanation is owed.  First, my daughter is officially out of half day preschool for the summer.  I never realized how much I actually got done during the four hours that she was at school (even with an infant).  Second, I am now subbing ALOT more classes at Flywheel.  Last week and this week, I am actually on the schedule five times per week.  Making playlists is currently the main reason why I pull my laptop out.  I find that my daughter oftentimes likes to give her input on song selections – even if I don’t take her advice.

IMG_5775The middle of the month of June is a big celebration month in our family.  After a brief visit from my husband’s parents, my family rolled into town to celebrate both Father’s Day and my mom’s sixtieth birthday.  Y’all this amazing woman does not look a day over 50.  On top of that, she operates at the same activity level as someone twenty years younger.

FullSizeRender-25My children absolutely adore their grandmother.  I can only hope that I get around as well as she does at her age (and look as young as her too!).  We celebrated over dinner at Nolen Kitchen followed by cake from Tizzerts.  Their location may have changed, but Tizzert’s cakes still taste just as good.

IMG_5746My mom was happy to share her birthday weekend with the dad’s in her children and grandchildren’s lives.  I had to teach two classes at Flywheel Sunday morning, however, the rest of the day I had reserved for letting my husband do what he wanted to do.  It’s funny because each of the past two years, I have taught on Father’s Day.  Each year, the company has handed out gifts to the dad’s that ride.  Also each year, one of my dad riders has generously given me their gift to give to my husband.  So sweet.  2015 – a headband.  2014 – a shirt.  The picture below is 2015.

IMG_5760The next picture is 2014.  Look at how much bigger my daughter has gotten in just one year!

photo 1-71My husband and I discussed how surreal it is for us to now celebrate these holidays that we had dedicated to our parents for so long.  It is still hard to believe that we have two children.  While they can’t tell him Happy Father’s Day, I know he knows how much he means to them.  In my best attempt to ask them what they wanted to get their dad for Father’s Day, we came up with a few good ideas.

IMG_5744We started his Father’s Day celebration by hiring a sitter and going on a date night.  Selfish on my part I know.  I needed a good excuse to do something out of the box.  We hit the town and explored the NoDa neighborhood.  No reservations necessary at Cabo Fish Taco.  We shared the Cabo Roll as an appetizer while indulging in Margaritas.

IMG_5740It’s almost like a quesadilla sushi roll.  The flavor in this dish is literally mouthwatering.  I could have eaten the entire thing as a meal – instead of splitting it with my husband.  On our way home, we stopped at NoDa Brewing Company for a round of drinks.  Y’all I talk about their beers a lot, but I didn’t realize how much cheaper they are if you buy them from the actual brewery.  They bottle everything and sell it there.  It is SO worth the drive.

FullSizeRender-27We were home before nine.  That’s how we roll now.  Getting crazy at this point in my life is staying up past ten o’clock.  To my husband’s surprise, his second gift was waiting for him when he got home.  Drumroll, please…

IMG_0306.JPGLet me introduce you to the best gift idea that I found courtesy of social media – Brewpublik.  Locally owned and very reasonably priced.  Each month you pay a designated amount for a specified amount of beer that is randomly chosen and delivered to your door.  How do they pick the beer?  They have a random beer algorithm. You enter your top two preferences and the computer does the rest.  Y’all they nailed it.  I inputted the following two beers – NoDA Cavu and Allagash White.  The picture above is what we got in our first delivery (on top of that awesome “BrewPublik” case).  My husband tried one of each over the weekend and was very impressed.  Beers in the case are both locally brewed and international/national.

image17-700x325With all these celebrations, exercise has been imperative.  While I haven’t been posting my workouts, I have been doing them!  My typical week looks something like this –

  • Monday – Strength (at home/garage)
  • Tuesday – Run/cardio
  • Wednesday – Strength (at home/garage)
  • Thursday – teach Flywheel Charlotte
  • Friday – FiA high intensity bootcamp (see picture above)
  • Saturday – Run/Flywheel Charlotte
  • Sunday – teach Flywheel Charlotte x2

These week’s FiA workout was one to remember those lost in the church shooting in Charleston, SC.  We recently launched a Charleston, SC workout.  Prior to leaving public accounting, I also spent almost a quarter of the year working in downtown.  The city has a special place in my heart.  We prayed for those lost and celebrated being able to spend our mornings exercising together.

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Exercising anywhere is tough right now.  I am doing everything I can to get up early to sweat it out – before it gets unbearably hot.  I am working to train for the Spartan Super Race in Asheville during August.  I am having trouble just completing some of my longer runs – due to the high humidity and my inability to stay hydrated.

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Just this morning, I left the house around 6:30AM to complete a Spartan Race WOD (workout of the day).  By the time I got home, it was already 77 degrees outside.  I was covered in sweat and the urge to walk had overcome me several times.  I slowed down considerably, but I resisted the urge.

FullSizeRender-26So, what was the workout?  Thank you Reebok for sending it to me.  I get tired of planning them myself all the time!

  • Run 2 miles warm up – I had an average pace at 8:06/mile
  • Complete the following set of exercises –
    • 25 push-ups
    • 25 squats
    • 20 mountain climbers
  • Run 1/2 mile at high intensity – pace yourself, so you don’t walk – again, I was 8:00/mile
  • Complete the following set of exercises –
    • 10 squat jumps
    • 50 yard lunge walk
    • 10 lunge jumps
    • 20 flutter kicks
    • 10 side-to-side jumps
  • Run 1 mile at high intensity – pace yourself, so you don’t walk – I slowed down to 8:30/mile pace.
  • Complete the following set of exercises –
    • 25 push-ups
    • 25 squats
    • 20 mountain climbers
  • Run 1/2 mile at high intensity – again don’t walk – I was running slower here, water loss hit me.
  • Complete the following set of exercises –
    • 10 squat jumps
    • 50 yard lunge walk
    • 10 lunge jumps
    • 20 flutter kicks
    • 10 side-to-side jumps
  • Cool down run

IMG_5779I stopped my watch while I was completing exercises – that way I could track my pace when I resumed running.  The effects of the exercises in between could be felt.  Especially the set with the squat jumps.  I was stopping wherever I was on the road to complete my exercises.  If you saw me, you probably thought I was either crazy or working hard.  I had my hands on knees gasping for breath at times.  I was actually happy about how high the intensity of this workout was.  I think I will continue to do some of the suggested workouts from Reebok.

IMG_5723Tough workouts aside, keeping up with my girls is a workout in itself.  Feel free to share in looking at some of the most recent photos taken of the girls.

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