Tag Archives: Spartan Race

Why Doing An Obstacle Course Race Might Jumpstart Your Fitness

If you are on social media, you have probably scrolled past an ad or post from someone telling you to sign up for the next closest Tough Mudder, Spartan Race or Warrior Dash.  The ads might show people covered in mud attempting to run over fire, crawl through barb wire or carry heavy objects.  While those photos can either appeal to you or not, there is something to be said about the consistency and variety of training that does into preparing for an obstacle course race.

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If you have heard my story, humor me by allowing me to introduce it to those who have not.  I finished my first obstacle course race in 2012.  It was a Warrior Dash.  While I loved it, I didn’t put much thought into it again until after the birth of my second daughter.  I was in a rut.  Two kids in seventeen months had left my body feeling broken, tired, soft.  Something I had never experienced.  After much complaining to my husband about plateauing and not seeing any changes, he suggested that I sign up to do a competitive Spartan Race that he planned to participate in.  The thought of trying something new and very much out of my comfort zone left me feeling anxious.

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Upon researching various obstacles I might encounter and what type of terrain that I would be running on, I changed my entire outlook on training.  Long gone were the days of way too much cardio and low weight/high rep lifting.  I began to be intentional about my workouts.  You see, the ideal obstacle course racer can run efficiently, climb (when terrain gets very steep), hang for long periods of time, while also being able to carry heavy objects up and down significant inclines and declines.  It’s really a fine line of balancing not being too strong, yet not being too skinny.  You can’t sacrifice one thing or it will slow you down somewhere else.

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You can’t just practice upper body and strength, you also must practice running, mobility, and time OFF your feet.  What does a typical obstacle race training program that I would build look like?

  • One long run a week.  Depending on the distance you are training for, you are working for time on feet (not necessarily mileage).  I want you to build endurance for the duration of time that you think your race might last.
  • One interval running workout per week.  Let’s get some mileage in by pushing our paces to threshold then recovering.  Let’s practice hill training, running speed on grass and perform running form drills.
  • Two Strength Days per week.  Strength days are solid.  Not much running at all.  This is not the workout you can expect to build mileage.  I want you working grip strength, picking up heavier things than you are used to and building that tight core that makes everything easier.
  • One Easy Run/Ride per week.  The purpose of that easy run/ride is to build muscle endurance without wearing you out.  That’s it.  Enjoy it.
  • One Strength/Run workout per week.  Let’s drop our weight a little bit and focus on running in between strength exercises.  How do you keep your heart rate controlled moving from a run/row to a strength exercise and not lose bad form?
  • One rest day.  That’s right.  Take a day OFF!

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The constant variation of not knowing what is coming next keeps your mind and body challenged.  Engaged. Right where it needs to be to continue to see results.  Not to mention, allowing yourself to set a goal will also give you a benchmark in which you can celebrate success.  Success is what drives us to be better versions of ourselves.  Through this simple programming, I have watched people change their perception in themselves and exercise by challenging themselves in ways they never thought possible.

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I find so many people have so many options they need direction of which way to go to get the most benefit out of everything they could be doing.  There is absolutely no reason for people to be plateauing and bored in our current fitness environment.  I am currently working with people specifically building out calendars of what to do on what day of the week to make the most out of their training, social life and work balance.  If you are stuck in a rut, you may just need to do something way out of your comfort zone!

 

 

My Top Workout Tips for Busy Parents

Hello February.  Hello 2018.  Hello blog.  I haven’t been able to keep up with posting as much as I would like to because quite honestly I have been busy.  Busy is good.  I live for having things to do.  Feeling engaged.  Being involved.  However, since the start of another year, I have noticed how hard it is to balance doing everything I want to do with my physical activity (outside of working).  I was recently asked by Spartan Race to list a few tips for the busy parent to stay active and maintain a workout routine.  I think some of these tips could apply to anyone.  Here we go!

  • Plan ahead.  If that means weekly, or even monthly, set your expectations early.  My husband and I both need regularly scheduled workouts to stay sane.  It is nearly impossible for us to work out at the same time.  We have coordinated a schedule in which one of us works out early on specific days of the week, the other during the day or evening. If it is my designated day, he encourages me to maintain my schedule.  As do I. 

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  • Hold yourself accountable. Let’s face it.  Some people are way more self motivated than others.  Do what you need to do to ensure you make time for exercise.  There are a few ways you can do this:
    • Join a group that expects (and gets excited) for you to be there.  Camaraderie and community make such a difference.  If you feel seen, rather acknowledged, you feel proud.  I run with a group of girls one morning a week that typically involves a track type workout or running hills.  Our paces are variable, but having them push me (and hold me accountable) has made such a difference in my running.
    • Sign up for a class that if you cancel last minute you will be charged.  Nothing is worse than paying for something you don’t use. 
    • Sign up for a race that you need specific training for to feel good about crossing the finish line.  You know what I’m talking about here.  An obstacle course race or a longer road race.  Something that you can’t just decide to do on the day of.

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  • Find time for “fun” workouts (with or without the kids). Easy days should be banked into everyone’s routine.  On these days, do something fun!  Take your kids to the playground and practice monkey bars with them.  Set up a mini obstacle course in your driveway and run through it with them.  Try something new that doesn’t leave you feeling completely spent.IMG_6448
  • Splurge sometimes.  If you are like me, you work hard professionally and as a parent.  Every once in awhile you need to reward yourself.  Set a date on the calendar to go on a “fitness date night”.  Get a babysitter and check out a climbing gym, running trail or boutique fitness studio with your significant other.  Don’t they say couples that sweat together stay together?

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  • Don’t put so much pressure on yourself.  In a world where everything seems perfect (or not so perfect) remember to use your workout time as an opportunity to lift yourself up.  If you wake up one day and you just aren’t feeling it, then take a day off (and be okay with it).  Exercise should leave you feeling like a better person.  Feeling like a better person will allow you to interact better with those around you throughout the rest of the day.
  • Remember, you are your child’s biggest role model.  If you don’t want to make time for fitness to benefit you, think about the impact it will have on your child.  I love having my kids see their mom set a goal, train for it, and reach it.  Being active is a lifestyle that your child will adopt if you set the tone early.  Maybe you even sign up to do a race with your child so you have the opportunity to not only connect but support each other’s training.

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Week 19 – Round 3

Size of Baby (per ultrasounds) – 9 ounces!

Weight Gain – 12 -13 Pounds.  There is definitely a pop in my belly that becomes increasingly larger as the day goes on.  It is crazy how much bigger my belly looks at 6 PM versus 6 AM.

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Movement – I feel more and more every day.  She is sitting very low, which was confirmed in my ultrasound.  Most of the movement is felt around my waistline.

Sleep – I sleep with a body pillow that rotates from one side of the bed to the other depending on which way I am sleeping.  Lifesaver.  Sleep is good.

What I miss – Sushi?  Maybe a craft beer?  You know what.  I’m okay with where I am at.  I’m not really missing much these days.  I’m pretty happy.

Best Moments this Week –Our anatomy scan ultrasound and a check up with my doctor.  The day started on a rough note when my three year old threw up just before her ride to preschool arrived.  I opted to keep her home from school with my toddler.  First we stopped at the pediatrician for my youngest daughter’s two year annual appointment before heading to the OBGYN office for my own appointment. There was a little chaos, but my husband was able to stop in for most of the appointment to rally the troops.

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There she is.  Measuring a little larger than her estimated due date.  Why am I not surprised?  The ultrasound technician was able to confirm that she clearly has 5 fingers and 5 toes and she passed all of her required anatomy tests.

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One thing that she did that neither of my other girls did in an ultrasound was stare us down – over and over and over (see below).  Seriously, this kid sat with eyes wide open and looked right as us several times.  Technology is now able to check a baby for cataracts!

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While I was at the doctor, I did discuss my exercise routine and diastasis recti (ab separation).  I did not have an issue with ab separation with my first two pregnancies.  It is not something that I want to experience round three.  That said, I had never talked to her about exercises that might cause your risk to increase and or how to prevent it.  Her answer was simple.  Our tissues are predisposed to ab separation.  While she didn’t recommend doing straight sit ups, she felt that doing hollow body ab exercises could do nothing but help.  That said, as I do pull ups, planks, even squats, I need to focus on tucking my hips and pulling my stomach in, rather than pushing out.  She checked my abs at this point and they were separated only 1 cm.  She does not expect me to have an issue.  Cross your fingers!

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Aside from the ultrasound, there were a lot of memorable moments from the week.  Morgan found a new way to crush bagels (see above).  She also celebrated her birthday one final time.  This time at school (see below).  She was happier than she looked.

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Madison went to the dentist for the first time!  Her look says it all.  My husband took an hour off from work to meet us.  He figured she might be a little scared.  Boy was she.  Upon the dentist entering the room she had an epic meltdown.  10 minutes later she told us we were going to have to come back another time.  At that point, we gave our daughter an ultimatum to go home and sit in her room the rest of the night or see the dentist and she chose the dentist.  Another 10 minutes later she was done and happy as can be. Wow, the wave of emotions for a 3 year old.

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Looking forward to – Our summer crop!  We started a family garden last year with strawberries, yellow beans, peas, tomatoes, jalapeños, cucumbers and basil.  It’s already time to plant again!  Somehow our strawberry patch from last year survived.  What started as two plants spread to MANY.  See below.  They are already budding.

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Did I mention the girls also love to get their hands in the dirt and help water?

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Cravings – Serious sweet and salty.  I am still finishing off the leftovers of birthday cake from my toddler’s birthday party.  I have also had plenty of help in the kitchen these days. My kids love being hands on in the kitchen.  We cooked up pancakes and pizza this week.  Great afternoon activity AND it saves mommy time on making dinner.

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Symptoms – Other than a bigger belly, symptoms have been minimal.  I have stayed pretty active which has kept my mind from wandering with what might feel uncomfortable.

Workouts – Before I detail what I did this week, I want to share the link to the Spartan Race blog post that featured 17 of my realistic workouts for expectant moms.  These can easily be done by someone who is not pregnant.  Stay alert, I will be doing more updates throughout my pregnancy!

17 Realistic Workouts for Expectant Mothers

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  • Monday 6:30 AM – I taught my regular 6:30 AM Flywheel Class
  • Tuesday – Garage Strength Workout
  • Wednesday – 30 minute easy run.  I was tired.  I just needed something to get me moving and start my day.  Heart rate was low and steady as was my run.
  • Thursday – I made it to my run group this week.  Somehow it was still cold Thursday morning, but we made an effort to get some intervals in.  Truth be told, people ask me how I am still running at a good pace.  This was the first week that I strapped on my Medela belly band.  It’s essentially a bra for your belly.  I mean you wouldn’t go for a run without a sports bra.

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Enough of that.  The workout?

  • 1 mile warm up run
  • 2 x 400, 200m recovery jog between rounds
  • 1 x 800, 200m recovery jog
  • 1 x 1600, 200m recovery jog
  • 1 x 800, 200m recovery jog
  • 2 x 400, 200m recovery jog between rounds

I went on to teach my regular Flywheel class that afternoon at 3:30PM.

  • Friday – I did a short workout in the morning knowing that we were headed to check out Kinetic Heights that evening.
    • Run 800m
      • 2 Rounds
      • TRX Squat with Mininband x 25
      • Shoulder Mobility x 10
      • Dead Hang x 1:00
      • Deadlift x 15
    • Run 1 mile
      • 5 4-3-2-1 Pull Ups
      • 10 Toes to Bar
      • 25 Lunges each leg
      • 25 Pushups
      • 50 Yard Farmer Carry
      • 50 Air Squats
      • 50 Yard Farmer Carry
      • 25 Pushups
      • 25 Lunges each leg
      • 10 Toes to Bar
      • 5 4-3-2-1 Pull Ups
      • Run 1 Mile

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A lot of people asked me what I thought about Kinetic Heights.  I was kind of underwhelmed.  The front desk checked us in, but did not show us around.  The location was not appealing and actually very small in the inside.  There was a distinct area that was made for obstacle racing, but if you are expecting them to resemble specific obstacles in a race you will be disappointed.  It is extremely difficult to mimic exact obstacles in OCR races simply because they don’t want you to be able to practice them.  Hence, “obstacle” race.

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I was limited with what I could do because I am pregnant, but I had a great time watching everyone else (specifically the warped wall).  We will likely be back, but working out in the garage and at the gym can adequately prepare me for what I am doing at this point.

  • Saturday – I am trying to get in as much time on my feet before I too uncomfortable to take too many steps during the day.  That said, I got in an easy 4 mile run before joining my OCR team at the Whitewater Center for some trail running and obstacle practice.  While I did not practice most obstacles, I did enjoy getting some good time outside with the group.  The first local Spartan Race is less than 2 weeks away!

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  • Sunday – I taught my regular 7:30 AM Flywheel class.

Week 17 – Round 3

Size of Baby (per “What To Expect”) – Size of the palm of your hand (approximately 3-5 ounces)

Weight Gain – 10 Pounds – Holding steady at about a pound a week in the second trimester.

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Movement –Starting to feel little kicks very low in my belly.  I typically feel nothing when I am on my feet moving around with the kids/working out.  It is when I finally sit down at night that I feel something.  My one cup of a coffee a day doesn’t even get her moving.

Sleep – Sleeping great these days.  I am less restless and sleeping through the night.  My parents offered to have the girls over for a “sleepover” this week, so we jumped at the chance to have a parents night in.

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The girls took ownership in packing for their trip up the road.  While the picture above may seem like a lot of stuff, there was actually more.  I thought they would miss me, but I missed them more.  We didn’t hear from them all night.

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We haven’t had a date night in a few weeks, so we bounced around a few places (while I enjoyed “mocktails”) before joining friends for dinner at Block & Grinder.  We were still in bed by 10PM.

What I miss – It’s funny because I looked back at what I said week 17 in my second pregnancy, and I feel exactly the same.  The answer?  I don’t miss much.  Right now, I am enjoying the second trimester energy surge and the fact that this will be my last time experiencing a baby growing in my belly.

Best Moments this Week – I would say date night in, but I have already talked about that.  In all seriousness, spending quality time with my girls has been the best part of the week.  They were out of school on Tuesday because of a teacher workday.  Lucky for us, the weather was nice, and some of the other parents had coordinated playdates for the week.

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Realizing my time with just the two of them is getting shorter, I am trying to get them out of the house (either together or by themselves) and excited about doing something with their mom.  If something fun comes up, I work to be unselfish with my own time to let them have time with me to themselves.  Even if that means my youngest daughter asks me to take her to the playground at Chicfila for lunch at 10:30 AM.

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Cravings – I am finally starting to enjoy eating healthy foods again.  I am craving less salty, high fat foods and more fruits and vegetables.  I opted to eat a salad several days this week.  Bring on the veggies!  The picture below is a salad from Johnny Burrito.  If you haven’t made it over there, you are missing out.

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Symptoms – Whatever took over my hands last week is gone and hasn’t come back since.  No real symptoms other than a bigger stomach.  I haven’t started wearing maternity pants yet.  However, my wardrobe most often revolves around elastic waistband athletic pants.

Workouts –To be honest, I am feeling stronger than ever.  My OB/GYN rode in my Thursday Flywheel class, so I had time to catch up with her outside of the office.  Having a relationship with her like this has made all three of my pregnancies significantly less stressful.  She encourages my workouts and supports all FOUR Flywheel instructors who are pregnant at this moment in time.  That’s right, I said FOUR.

  • Monday – 6:30 AM Flywheel – I just taught my class.  I have also been volunteer coaching pole vault in the afternoon at Myers Park High School.  I consider all of the walking around that I do in the track area a workout.

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  • Tuesday – Knowing the girls had a teacher workday and I would not get any time to squeeze in a workout, I woke up early to do a garage workout before my husband left for work.
    • 15 minute warm up Run
    • 2 Rounds
      • Bosu knee to chest crunch, raise legs over hurdles x 8 each side (HARD)
      • Bosu Burpee x 10
      • Ape Crawl x 25 yards (this will be the last week I can do this, belly is too big)
      • Glute Bridge, heels in TRX, mini band around thighs x25
    • 2 Rounds
      • Side Knee to Elbow on Bosu x 25 each
      • Lunge on Bosu with Bicep Curl x 10 each
      • Leg Raise with Flex Arm Hang on Gymnastics Rings x 10
      • TRX row x 15
    • 2 Rounds
      • Side Step Up x 10
      • Ab Mat Sit Up x 25
      • Pull Up x 10
      • Overhead Press x 15

*Let’s talk about the fact that I am still doing straight leg toes to bar.  My doctor was surprised I could still do these (not in a bad way, but she is interested to see how much longer I can do them).  That said, I will attempt to continue to do them before modifying by doing knees to elbow.

  • Wednesday – While I have energy, I have been trying to keep my strength work consistent.  I did a shorter workout Wednesday that embodied aspects of obstacle race training.
    • 2 Rounds
      • Run 800m easy
      • Marching crunch on Bosu x 25 each
      • Pushup with one arm roll out x 10 each side
      • Elastic Band Upright Row with shoulder rotation to overhead press x 10 (HARD, but great for shoulder mobility)
      • Miliband around thighs, side walk x 15 each leg x 3 rounds
    • 4 Rounds
      • Run 400m
      • 15 Pushups
      • 5 Pull Ups
      • 25 Squats
      • 5 Pull Ups
      • 15 Pushups
  • Thursday – I ran an early morning workout with my run group before teaching Flywheel at 3:30.

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*Let’s talk about my run intensity on the one day I do interval training a week.  The workout that the group did was as follows:

  • 1.5 mile warm up
  • 5 Rounds – Run 1000m, recover 400m

I only did 4 rounds, and my pace was somewhat consistent outside of the first round.  If you look at line 3, 5, 8, and 10, you can see my 1000m breaks.  I averaged about an 8:00/mile pace when I was on.  When I was recovering, I was closer to a 10:00 mile.  That said, prior to getting pregnant, my average interval pace would have been somewhere around 6:45-7:00 pace.  I am dropping anywhere between a minute to a minute and a half of speed when I am on.  I am totally okay with this.  I am also totally okay with being done when I feel like being done (which on this day was before everyone else).  I feel excited about the fact that I am just outside being active.

  • Friday – After a long week, I spent some time playing around in the garage, but not doing a structured workout.  I did end up seeing how many pull ups I could do.  Somehow I managed to do 12.  I am shocked I still have the ability to pull up the additional weight that many times.
  • Saturday – For two weeks in a row, I have gotten up early to get a “longish” run in before the kids wake up.  On these days, my goal is to run easy.  That said, I try to keep my heart rate in the 140s, leaving my pace somewhere in the 9:30/10:00 mile range.  On this day, I squeeze in 4.78 mile at  9:41 pace.

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I went on to train my obstacle training group later that morning – this time only watching people workout and not actually doing a workout myself.  The first Charlotte Spartan Race is coming up in less than 4 weeks!

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  • Sunday – I taught my regular 7:30 AM Flywheel class, which was rough with the time change!