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A Marauder's Story

10 Posts tagged with the tough-mudder tag

The culmination of this blog has been reached: I completed Tough Mudder PA.

 

As I might have mentioned before, the scope of my training has been eclipsed by the Goruck Challenge. As such, Tough Mudder was simply a lighthearted romp through the muck and mire. I also had the distinct pleasure of running the event with Colin, who was the only member of the original team to join me.

 

It took some logistic string-pulling to get my Forerunner watch to the event, but I am fortunate to have parents who can perform such miracles. My more extended family was present as well, and they provided great support.

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I chose to use Elevation instead of Pace for the second graphed variable since the pace was so erratic as a result of inconsistent runners on the trails or chokepoints at the obstacles. Here are the data with the red line representing Heart Rate and the green line Elevation:

 

4-10-11 TM chart.png

 

As you might imagine, the event was not a straight run-through of 10.5 miles. The longest uninterrupted stretch of running would only amount to about 3 miles and most of the participants were walking up the hills.

 

If you're looking for training advice for this kind of event, here are a few main factors to consider:

 

Leg Strength: You want to be strong, but not bulky. Try bodyweight squats, single-leg squats (assisted, standard or weighted) and lunges. High repetition sets, fast.

 

Glutes: (to keep you stable) Glute Lift. If you're strong enough, do these with one leg held straight out, thighs parallel, toes of the straight leg pointing away from you. High repetition sets, slow.

 

Core: (more stability) Leg Lifts and Iron Bridge (Plank hold). High repetition sets for leg lifts. Work up to holding the plank for as long as possible (1 minute would be a good goal) and when you can't hold it any more, do crossovers with your legs - bring a knee up to your chest and back to pushup position about ten times, then do the other leg.

 

Upper Body: I didn't find this aspect to be too terribly important for this event. Grip strength will be important for the Funky Monkey, and you'll need a decent amount of strength to get over the nets and Berlin Walls, but you're going to be surrounded by people who are more than happy to toss your muddy behind over the obstacles. If you're strong enough to do 25 consecutive pushups I'd say you're prepared.

 

Cardiovascular Endurance: I'd recommend less street running in favor of trail running if possible. Using a jump rope is an excellent way to improve cardiovascular endurance in a short time. It has been estimated that the same amount of calories can be burned in 15 minutes of jumping rope versus 30 minutes of running on flat ground.

 

The event, as a whole, is tough - don't kid yourself. You will need to prepare mentally as well as physically. Running with a team or just a buddy is a great way to keep a reasonable pace and to maintain a good attitude.

 

Walk up the hills, jog down them. Unless you're competing for a qualifying time, your time doesn't matter. Getting hurt does matter. Not finishing does matter. If you signed up for this, you owe it to yourself to finish.

 

If you would like more specific advice about how to prepare, what to wear, or any other such questions, feel free to contact me.

 

The Tough Mudder site does a decent job of approximating the course outline, but the order and placement of the obstacles is not entirely accurate. Here is my Forerunner's impression of our path for the entire run:

4-10-11 TM map.jpg

 

 

The Maurauder's Wave

We were late for our wave, but it doesn't seem to matter. We donned our costumes, had our bib numbers scrawled on our skin with indelible marker, and eventually made our way to the starting line.

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After purposefully butchering the Pledge we were off. I couldn't help but splash around in the mud at the bottom of the first hill near the spectators; I was euphoric.

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And then into the smoke-bombed incline.

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I let Colin set the pace and complacently followed him for most of the run. He was powering up the hills which wore him out early on, but he hit his stride once we reached some of the downhill portions.

 

We ran up and down the hills and had to deal briefly with a series of dirt mounds with nets on them. After navigating these and the slippery snow, we eventually came down a main stretch called Kodiak. There was an obstacle called Greased Lightning towards the bottom of the hill. We dove in headfirst and had the pleasure of the initial soaking to deal with for the remainder of the run.

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We then made our way up Sasquatch, one of Bear Creek's steepest slopes. I had no trouble with it, and encouraged the other participants as I made my way up. By this point I had heard exclamations of "arrrr" from various people as a sort of speciously clever recognition of the fact that we looked like pirates. We conquered other various obstacles at the top of the hill, namely the Boa Constrictor which I particularly enjoyed. There were two large black tubes which slanted down into a pool of cold, muddy water. By the time you've crawled to the end of the first tube you're chin-deep in the water. It was glorious.

 

The trail led to the Berlin Walls, which were awesome. I resolved to not use the footholds on the wall, and to attempt the walls on my own. I was surprised to find that I had difficulty with the first wall, but I did eventually get over. The following walls were much easier, and I just enjoyed the obstacle as a whole. Helping people get over is very satisfying, as well.

 

We turned back around and made our way across the top of the hill and headed South to a long, winding trail. The descent was pleasant, and we maintained a great pace while snaking through the trees and other participants.

 

We made our way back into the parking lot of the resort, and met with a large tub of red liquid and some confused-looking girls handing out Habanero Peppers. It wasn't made clear whether we were supposed to eat them or just chew them up and spit them out. Considering how tough I am, guess what I did. I leapt into the red liquid which felt no different than water (I'm honestly not sure what the point of that was), and charged on along a slippery hill on the outer rim of the pond.

 

We worked our way back up the hill underneath The Devil's Beard which is just a large cargo net. We went back down the hill again and were met with some weird iron fences with thick black bars over which we were meant to climb. I met up again with my family as we waited in the considerably long line for the Walk The Plank obstacle. We finally were able to climb up to the top of the platforms and leap into the freezing water below:

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All the cold showers I had taken could not have prepared me for that water. I had no trouble swimming, but it was horribly cold. What made matters worse was the panicky people surrounding me; I felt like I might be pulled under at any moment. Flashback to my lifeguard training. You'll notice the distinct dip in my heart rate around 1:20 into the run. I think this corresponds to the dive.

 

Colin and I managed to crawl out of the pond and took a short rest at a water station before charging ahead. We were met with two more water-based obstacles: one which looked like it was meant to be Twinkle Toes, but ended up being channels with a series of three wooden walls that went below the surface of the water to varying depths. Colin and I each chose a channel and I was not pleasantly surprised to find that the middle wall was about three feet from the bottom of the pond.

 

Immediately after this weird water wall challenge we were lining up for the Ball Shrinker. Usually a Mudder will try to shimmy along the rope with their feet while holding the suspended rope above. A boisterous military-man was caustically advising us to simply pull ourselves through the water with the lower rope and "save [our] shoulders for the other obstacles". We complied, but I felt slightly cheated. I went first and was almost coming to enjoy the stinging chill of the water on my genitals when a frantic semi-Asian man began to overtake Colin, shouting something about needing to go faster. Delightful.

 

We survived the anxious Asian's onslaught and trudged along into a system of trails on the opposite end of the resort. With the notable exception of my teeth chattering at a rate ferocious enough to irregularize my breathing rhythm, I found the run to be quite enjoyable. We serpentined through the trees and up some minor hills. There were some narrower portions and we would occasionally be stuck behind a slower runner, but for the most part we maintained a good pace and overtook a good number of other participants. We made our way along the 3.5-4 mile path around the backside of the mountain, eventually coming back up onto the ski slopes.

 

The Mud Mile affronted us. It was essentially a stretch of muddy-water-filled trenches. This, normally, would be a manageable thing. The catch was that since the water is so murky one can't get a sense of their footing. This becomes especially problematic when large rocks adorn the bottom of the pools of indeterminate depth. We were forced to make our way carefully through the pools and jog between them. Towards the end of the Mud Mile we were made to go through a long trench of knee-deep water with horizontal logs lying above the water's surface. We were supposed to go under them. I went into a frenzy, splashed Colin and then took off on my own. I sloshed through the water, sending it everywhere and roaring like a maniac. I held my foam hat on my head as I ducked into the water and under the poles, and then charged forth to the next one. It was bestial.

MudSlam.png

 

After the Mud Mile we glided downhill to the Monkey Bars to find that they were not being used. The participants were walking around the outside of the obstacle, and there were a number of officials looking concerned. It seems someone had broken his leg the day before, and they were shutting down the obstacle. We were indignant, but didn't want to wait around to see if it would reopen, so we continued on.

 

The next downhill portion contained the Kiss Of Mud obstacle which is a section of rocks and water where a participant is meant to crawl under barbed wire. I was forced to go slow because of the person I was following, and dragging my chest on the rocky ground was decidedly uncomfortable, but I got through with no significant difficulty.

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We reached the bottom of the hill and were made to run through a gauntlet of burning hay bales which caused great white billows of smoke to obscure the path ahead.

 

We made our way back up another hill and eventually passed the parallel path that led to the Funky Monkey. Since we were walking anyway I decided to go see if the obstacle was opened again, and it was. We talked ourselves into waiting to do it, and the wait wasn't too bad. As we waited I removed my gloves, thinking my bare skin would afford me better grip. This might have been a mistake, but there's no way for me to know. Colin had just as much difficulty as I, although he wore his gloves. We both made it to about halfway across before slipping off into the black tarp below.

 

With the Funky Monkey at least attempted we rejoined the proper course path. We went up another small hill, and then back down to the bottom to find the Hold Your Wood portion of the run. Another participant handed me the one he had been carrying, a large but not terribly heavy piece. I shouldered it and started walking up the hill. I paused, looked back at the pile with a devious smile, and grabbed another log with my left hand. Colin said something like "Oh, ok. Guess we're doing two, then." He grabbed a second log and we made our way slowly up the hill. By the time I reached the top I was feeling the weight mostly in my shoulders and triceps. The downhill portion was much easier but it took me a decent amount of reorganization to keep from dropping the logs.

 

The next three hills contained the cargo nets, the Mystery Obstacle and then finally Electroshock Therapy and the finish.

 

The cargo nets were manageable. What made them difficult was the instability from other participants clumsily flailing around on the ropes. Colin and I stayed behind a while after making it to the other side to hold it steady for some others.

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The Mystery Obstacle is a large wooden structure with slopes on either end of a high platform. The front side is covered in a thick plastic which makes it quite difficult to complete this obstacle without help. Everyone was helping everyone else, though, so it was simply a fun way to bond with the people around you. You then slide down the other side, and head back downhill. At the bottom of this hill they have some high hay bales set up to be vaulted. After we made it through those it was back uphill again for the final obstacle, Electroshock.

 

I was really excited about this particular obstacle because of the pictures and videos I had seen. The collective unconscious of the participants entertained some unnamable dread about it, which made me want it even more. Colin and I lined up at the top of a small hill in front of the obstacle and waited for the others to go through. We looked at each other, nodded, and ran screaming through the wires. I was shocked but Colin wasn't. The surge went from my elbow to my tailbone and felt like a deep static shock. I can see how it might cause a participant to drop to the ground, though.

 

We crossed the finish line roaring like wild animals and claimed our shirts and headbands. I choked down a beer and corralled with my family and friends.

 

The aftermath was mild. I had some tightness in my right Sartorius muscle which caused discomfort in my groin, but nothing serious. My shoulders were sore, likely from the Hold Your Wood obstacle, but it went away with some stretching and rest.

 

The event, overall, was extremely enjoyable. It is something meant to be shared, and to complete something like this with a team or even a partner is supremely rewarding.

 

Next up: Goruck Challenge, then another Mudder in early May.

 

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Bigfoot e i suoi amici

Posted by Superfiend Apr 6, 2011

5-mile weighted run today with a friend. I put the 25lb vest in my backpack, so I thought I was running with 25lbs. I just weighed the backpack with the vest in it, and it came to about 32lbs. This is great news, and makes me feel a lot more confident about my joint and muscle strength under stress. I'm looking forward to seeing how the run feels with bricks instead of the vest.

 

My friend's usual pace (~11 minute mile) is a lot slower than mine (unweighted ~7:45-8, weighted ~9-10), so it was good to have her to keep me consistent. Here are the data:

4-6-11 chart.png

The distance was fine. I actually pushed her a bit, but it ended up being a great run. I kept my head in it, and felt strong. My left ankle only briefly felt weak, but loosened up after running it for another mile. We did some small hills, and I would occasionally throw in a faster pace, but nothing too serious. I'm tapering my runs down a bit since Tough Mudder approaches.

 

Confidence is high.

 

Countdown:

Tough Mudder PA - 4 days

Goruck Challenge  - 23 days

Tough Mudder VT - 30 days

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Neustift-Innermanzing

Posted by Superfiend Apr 4, 2011

My knees are still a bit sore from my 13-mile run, but I was plenty strong enough to tackle a hilly trail run this morning.

 

I went back out to Blue Hills, which was a major traininng location for me as I was preparing for the Shawnee Peak Challenge and Ruckus Boston. I ran in shorts and a sleeveless moisture-wicking athletic shirt, so I was chilly at first. I chose the outfit deliberately because I wanted to make the run more challenging. I knew that I would feel a lot stronger on the trails as compared to last semester, but the difference was striking.

 

Here's the chart of the run data:

4-4-11 chart.png

The spikes in heart rate are caused by me running up very steep hills to the summits along the trails. This Google Earth image of the run does a great job of illustrating my path and my ascent:

4-4-11 earth.png

I ran along the bottom red line to the end of the trail, at the Museum. I turned around and made a loop above the parking lot which included a nice little hill, hence the first spike. I then continued along on previously unexplored trails until I came to an imposing gradient to my right, and followed it with an adventurous spirit. I passed about two turnoffs onto huge, rocky hills before I finally broke down and took to running up one of them. The one I chose just happened to be the steepest, highest trail in the park.

 

You can see my total ascent value in the chart. I think the path from the bottom of the hill to the top ascends about 250 feet along a distance of about a half mile. It was brutal and I didn't run the whole way. I think my stopping was mostly related to the terrain and not so much my stamina, but I distinctly remember at least one instance where I was pushing myself too hard and had to slow down. In any case, I was considerably stronger today than I have ever been on trail hills.

 

I'm honestly not concerned about the event; I feel like Goruck has totally eclipsed Tough Mudder for me in terms of motivation and my general anxiety about preparedness.

 

I've begun a carb-loading pattern in my diet in an effort to store energy for Sunday. My goal for carb intake right now is 50%, which I'll raise to around 70% by Thursday, followed of course by a large carb-filled dinner the night before the event. I read and hear contradicting things about when the pre-event high intensity exercise should be performed (either the day before, or two days before). I'll probably do some intense hill sprints two days before the event and take Saturday off as rest.

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Ascension

Posted by Superfiend Apr 2, 2011

Today I had the best run of my life thus far.

 

The day started out in a mundane way. I had no plans to run since I am waiting on a buddy to go on a weighted jaunt with me some time soon. I mulled around the apartment for a while, eventually putting on a movie recommended to me by my trainer, "Running The Sahara". The movie is basically about three ultra-marathon runners who decide to literally run across the entire Sahara Desert, from the West Coast of Africa to the Red Sea. Needless to say it was inspirational. I began preparations for a weighted run, but decided at the last minute to go for long-distance, unweighted.

 

Here are the data to provide a basic understanding of what I accomplished:

4-2-11 chart.png

Yes. 13.22 miles. This is almost TWO TIMES the distance of my previous personal record (6.73 miles).

 

It was quite a journey. Take notice of the changes in elevation as well; this is mostly a result of me following my trainer's request of trying out Summit Avenue. I also ran the entire path; no stopping, no breaks, no PT, just straight mind-numbing running the whole way with a few sprints interspersed to keep things interesting. I ran it with my New Balance 890s, which performed famously. The spikes in my pace are, for the most part and as usual, me having to stop at intersections. The trend in my heart rate fascinates me.

 

Here is an overhead view of the run:

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I think the best way to make sense of this messy red squiggle is to explain each phase of the run. I'll further complicate things by adding a bunch of poorly-drawn convoluted arrows in an attempt to illustrate my path:

4-2-11 map arrowed.jpg

I began at the green dot and ran down to Beacon Street. I ran two sprints along the way, holding a consistently fast speed for a few seconds, then I would slow to my normal pace. I followed Beacon until the intersection with Summit Avenue which stands diagonally from Beacon with its imposing gradient. Here's what it looks like from the bottom:

Summit Ave.jpg

The incline only lasts about a half mile, but it's nasty and I loved it. This leg of the run is responsible for the spike in my heart rate at 15 minutes in. There is a small park at the top of the hill, and the downhill portion was pleasant. About halfway along the downhill portion I suddenly turned and sprinted back uphill for about five seconds, then turned again and finished the hill. I'm pretty sure I only thought to do this because some people were watching me run.

 

I turned off of Summit Ave onto Commonwealth and followed it for a long while. I was feeling great at this point and had no interest in stopping any time soon. I had not decided the path of my run or the distance before leaving, my only plan was to run Summit Ave. Having done that and still feeling strong, I followed Comm Ave until I reached Boston University's campus. I noticed the water on my left as I ran along Comm Ave and decided it might be nicer to be out there, and that this could be my opportunity to turn around. I was sure to make a mental note that though I was turning around that this in no way meant I was preparing to end my run. This was 2.3 miles from the Summit Ave junction with Comm Ave, and about 5.5 miles into the run, which I didn't know at the time. At this point I also decided that I would pay no further attention to my watch to learn how far I had gone; I would leave that until later when I felt like I might be approaching ten miles which slowly developed into a more solid goal as I progressed.

 

I ran along the Charles on a path called Storrow Drive. It was at this point that a headwind picked up that would fight me for the rest of my run. I continued along Storrow Dr until I reached the Boston University Bridge where I ran into a roadblock. My only option was to take a flight of stairs up to the bridge and work my way back down Comm Ave, so I did. I was apprehensive about the stairs, but they didn't seem to faze me. I ran back along Comm Ave, passing Boston University's campus again with the headwind stronger than ever. I continued onto Brighton Ave, about a mile from the BU Bridge. Brighton Ave kept me relatively engaged, and I broke out my Clif Shot gummies and did my best to eat one. They taste good, and it felt like it was the right thing to be eating for this sort of exercise (being already over 6.5 miles into the run). I choked it down and chased it with some nuun-enhanced water from my hydration pack (I am so thankful to have both of these things), and charged ahead.

 

The path became more familiar once I reached Harvard Ave since I used to do weighted runs in the area. I turned off Brighton Ave onto Cambridge Street and followed it to a familiar intersection. I continued along, feeling strong, until I icame to a road called Winship which leads to my apartment. I decided to look at my watch to see how far I had gone, and it would have read just over eight miles which was already about a mile and a half farther than my previous personal record. With the goal of ten miles firmly planted in my mind, I resolved to run up Winship, down Chestnut Hill Ave, and then run to Boston College's campus and back which would certainly have me finishing with at least ten total miles. And so I did. I continued along, my pace now a bit slower than normal (you'll notice the slight slowing of my pace as I run the entire distance which I find just as fascinating as the inverse trend of my heart rate). I made it down to Boston College's campus, and turned around to come back up Comm Ave again, towards home. Then something amazing happened.

 

I decided at one point to run a hard sprint through an intersection, and it felt fine. Good, even. This was, ironically, ten miles into the run. As I was coming down from the sprint I had a curious realization. I didn't want to stop. I was overcome with euphoria and involuntarily a big dopey smile came across my face. I mentally agreed with this wild notion, as if it had been proposed to me by someone else. Somewhere, I believe, I was competing with the fact that my friend Pete recently completed a half-marathon (typically just over 13 miles). My thoughts went to how I might extend the run and there it was: the reservoir. I was quite familiar with it from before, and it was along the way.

Res.jpg

I turned off Comm Ave, and made my way down to the windswept path around the ol' Res. The reservoir's path is about 1.5 miles around and I ran it at a good pace. I was kept interested in the run by the other runners, people walking along the path, and various other things. I made it back to the entrance of the reservoir, and made my way up Chestnut Hill Ave, meaning to end the run and call it a day. Then, again, something amazing happened.

 

A ridiculous song came on my iPod which repeats the phrase "don't stop". This song has served me quite well on numerous occasions in helping me persevere through a difficult run, especially the trail-running I was doing last semester. I laughed out loud at the song, and its outlandish suggestion that I continue running. But I began to consider, am I really tired? Do I really want to stop?

 

...

 

Nope.

 

So I ran some more, resolving to attain half-marathon distance. The skies became cloudy as I passed my apartment. I begged for rain and it came to me. I looped around and as I was making my way back up to my apartment, in the final leg of the run, it began to rain on me. A sweet, chilling, heavy rain that seemed to wash away my fatigue. It was glorious. I broke the 13-mile barrier and slowed to an enthusiastic walk, smiling to myself. I barely made it up the steps in my apartment building, and allowed myself a few minutes of peace before running out on an errand.

 

I burned at least 1670 calories on this run, so I've been eating A LOT today. I actually need to go grocery shopping tomorrow because I basically ate all the rest of my food.

 

I am supremely pleased with the run, my performance, and the record itself. I won't shoot for anything longer than this for some time, but it was INCREDIBLY reinforcing to know that I can do this. Today's run represents the strongest mental resolve I have ever experienced, and it's fantastically motivating.

 

I'm going to crush Tough Mudder and I will complete the Goruck Challenge. I have no further doubts.

441 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: training, running, hydration, marathon, endurance, half, half_marathon, heart, gps, distance, garmin, heart_rate, forerunner, gel, tough, nuun, clif, shot, tough-mudder, goruck, halfie

Hörnchenzahnratte

Posted by Superfiend Mar 20, 2011

Technique, technique, technique. I'm focused on improving my running form now, specifically in minimizing my tendency to heel-strike. I've been reading articles, watching videos with slow-motion analyses of the form, and just generally learning what I can about the theory.

 

I resolved to tailor my run today into something hinging on proper form instead of brute distance or weight. I went out with my hydration pack and my Vibram TrekSports so I felt light. I've run with my Five Fingers before, but never at quite the distance I did today; my previous bouts were short-distance (~1 mile) on the indoor track at school.

 

Here are the data from the run:

3-20-11 chart.png

Lap 1 was the first half of the run, Lap 2 my trip back, and Lap 3 was my walking and stretching after the run. I maintained what I believe to be proper form for about 3/4 of the run, but ended up finishing the route still running, but with poorer form.

 

As I said, distance wasn't my main focus here, and I did stop occasionally - as you can see from the spikes in Pace - to stretch or get a feel for how my calves were holding up. This particular muscle group troubles me as I am running this way. I consciously critique and adjust my form as I run, trying with each step to land on the ideal and seemingly imaginary "midfoot" and roll into the toes. This seems to put undue strain on my calves. This might just be a result of my muscles not being used to this kind of movement.

 

In addition to the foot placement I am also meant to make a pedaling movement with my legs as if on a bike while bringing my heels up to my backside after each stride. It's a complicated motion and I found myself thinking while I was running: "I wish my track coach had done some work with the team to establish proper running form". Admittedly, as I was a pole-vaulter, I didn't do much running then and the running I did was all toe-striking long fast strides anyway. Still, I think any athlete whose sport involves running would benefit enormously from developing proper running form early on.

 

I'm looking into a Personal Trainer who might help me to correct my form. Strength training is still taking the back seat, and might have to remain there until after Goruck. The coming weeks will see TrekSport runs focusing on form, long unweighted runs focusing on endurance and distance, and long weighted runs focusing on mental grit and stamina.

 

Event Countdown

Tough Mudder PA:          21 days

 

Goruck:                        41 days

 

Tough Mudder VT:          49 days

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This morning's run followed the same path as my last weighted run.

 

The data from the Forerunner are a bit botched since for some reason it took forever to find a GPS signal. I still have the heart rate information, though, which is somewhat more stable than last time. This is with the 20lb weight vest:

 

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Unfortunately my pace wasn't tracked until about 11 minutes into my run since it took so long to find a satellite signal, which threw off the averages.

 

The spikes in my pace around 14, 15 and 16 minutes are when I was forced to wait at intersections or behind someone walking slowly on the sidewalk.

 

My heart rate was more consistent this time, as was my pace overall. I ran the whole path (3.5 miles) with no walking rests. I felt loose and strong throughout the whole run. It was a good mental day so I was in the zone. I felt tight and sore when I stopped for my cool-down walk to my apartment but it went away with some stretching.

 

The runs are going really well so I'll likely change the routine soon, maybe within the next two weeks. Instead of adding weight, which I thought I would do originally, I think I'll just increase the distance and focus on keeping a consistent pace.

 

In other news: I've officially registered for Goruck Boston! It's really exciting, and gives me great motivation for my workouts. I'll eventually register for Tough Mudder Vermont, likely this coming week. I'll still be running Tough Mudder PA on April 10th with my friend.

 

Overall my training is going really well and I feel great.

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This new workout feels awesome. Here's my updated Strength routine:

The entire routine is completed while wearing my weight vest currently set to 20lbs and two 20lb kettlebells when appropriate.

 

Warmup (2x):

10 standard pushups.

20 standard lunges.

5 full extension wide handhold pullups.

Shadow boxing (dynamic stretching)

 

Workout:

Each exercise, as previously stated, is performed nonstop for 60 seconds. 15 second rest between exercises. I've been using a little stopwatch for which I've developed a love/hate sentiment.

 

1. Kettlebell Pushups + Raise

    Dip down between kettlebell handles, push back up. Bring one bell up above your shoulders to form a vertical line with both arms, hold for a second, then bring back down. Next repetition is for the other bell/arm.

 

2. Kettlebell Swings:

    Standard kettlebell exercise. Feet a bit more than shoulder-width apart, swing kettlebell between legs up to chin level, then back down.

 

3. Forward Lunges.

 

4. Kettlebell Rows:

    Shoulder-width stance. Bend forward at the waist holding both kettlebells close to the floor. Bring both bells up to the chest, then lower without touching the ground.

 

5. Side Lunges:

    Can be done while holding kettlebells, but I don't feel like it's as beneficial for me at this point.

 

6. Kettlebell Pushups + Rows:

    Same as previous kettlebell pushup, except at the top of the push you bring one bell up to your chest, hold, then lower the bell back to the floor.

 

7. Forward Lunges with upper body twist:

    Just as it sounds. I twist to both sides during each lunge.

 

8. Decline Pushups:

    Prop your feet up on a chair, couch seat or other relatively low surface. I recommend doing sets of low reps (4 or 5) and taking a few breaths before the next set. I usually tap out of this portion around 40 seconds.

 

9. Mountain Climbers:

    Pushup position, bring one leg up to chest then back to starting position and alternate quickly. I can't yet do 60 seconds of this nonstop after the other exercises. I'm improving, though.

 

10. Pullups:

       The Tough Mudder site recommends chinups but I change the type of pullup each time I do this routine. I usually break it into mini-sets of 5-6 pulls and then allow a rest while still hanging. This is awful with the vest after having done the other arm-intensive exercises.

 

11. Plank:

      The familiar old plank hold. Grin and bear it. This is cake for me without a vest, and without having done all the other exercises prior, but doing it with those things in place is quite a feat. I  finally held out for a full minute today for the first time.

 

12. Oblique Plank:

       Then they hit you with this. You're supposed to hold each side for a full minute. I'm up to 45 seconds on each allowing a 15-second rest between the sides.

 

13. Squats:

       Just standard bodyweight (or weighted) squats. I'm planning on substituting this for one leg squats once I'm strong enough.

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Audunar þáttr vestfirzka

Posted by Superfiend Jan 22, 2011

I've become more ambitious in my training, and have set my sights on an event that surpasses Tough Mudder in basically every way: the Goruck Challenge.

 

Here's a video outlining the madness of the task.

 

I am still registered for Tough Mudder PA on April 10th. As of right now I have only one other team member; all the others I had hoped to recruit were too apprehensive or otherwise constrained to register in time (the event recently sold out). I expect Tough Mudder to now be more of a fun romp than a serious competition, but I know I'm going to love it anyway - and perhaps even more so.

 

I have a few new toys, thanks to the holiday.

 

My favorite: my Vibram TrekSport shoes. I've been wearing these shoes almost non-stop since I got them. All the rave reviews I had heard (especially at events like Shawnee and Ruckus) are well-founded, and I find myself now an enthusiastic proponent of the brand. My feet are considerably stronger and I've even developed a considerable level of prehensility with my toes, although moving them independently is physiologically impossible. The Vibram shoes improve posture and practically force proper running form. I've used them for travel (almost exclusively during a recent family vacation) and I'm working my way up to running in them.

 

Next on the list is the weight vest. After some deliberation I settled on one from Dick's Sporting Goods called the Fitness Gear Weighted Vest. I've been wearing it for daily use here and there, but its most profound impact has been on my workouts. I wore it during normal workouts at home (of which I did very little, I'm sorry to say, while I was on break) and it made a huge difference. Though I'm scaffolding the added weight, and only currently using 20lbs (of the possible 40), the impact on my endurance and strength in a routine, which was previously quite manageable, was considerable. I would do a set with the vest and the second set without. More recently, since coming back to Boston, I've been using it with a newer workout routine: it's essentially listed on the Tough Mudder site. I admit I didn't finish the full 60 seconds of some of the exercises at the end, but I think I did really well, especially considering I was wearing the weight vest at 20lbs the whole time and using two 20lb kettlebells for their respective sections. I'm going to use this workout instead of my old one because I want to change it up for my body and work some previously untrained aspects of my strength. Since it makes you switch between exercises so quickly with so little rest it also includes a considerably cardiovascular strain.

 

Finally, I'm impatiently awaiting the arrival of my Garmin Forerunner 305 (GPS Heart Rate Monitor doodad). I'm pretty excited about having this gadget. I'm a techno-geek to begin with, and adding the tech to my fitness aspirations is just wonderful. Check out the specs and the user-submitted pictures on Amazon to see some of the capabilities. I expect to wear this during every workout to optimize my gains and keep track of my progress in a more objective way. I’ll likely upload some if not all of this information to my blog for some added cohesion (especially from big events like Tough Mudder and Goruck).

 

I'm proud to say that I'm holding strong to the vegan diet, and it's working out quite well. It's considerably easier now and I feel great about it. I'm going to be making an active effort to learn more recipes this semester and do more cooking for myself. I also got a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer Express, which I use often. I love the convenience of it. I admit to not noticing a significant difference in my performance since switching to a plant-based diet, but I was basically in top shape beforehand.

 

As far as the supplements are concerned, it's all vegan or nothing. I’ve been supporting a product called Vega, and I use the Whole Food Health Optimizer as my post-workout recovery drink. It’s pretty ridiculous as a dietary supplement; it’s got 100% or more of basically everything you need daily. The taste is acceptable, even good sometimes (reminds me of Carnation Instant Breakfast), and it mixes rather well. I know that without this supplement I would be extremely sore after my intense workouts, so it seems to be doing its job. It’s expensive even when it’s on sale, but I feel that it’s worth the extra money, especially since I know I wouldn’t be properly nourished without it considering my relatively poor culinary ability.

 

Besides the gadgets my sights are set on bigger and more challenging events. The Goruck Challenge, as outlined here on the Tough Mudder site, is intimidating to say the least. I’m considering running the Tough Mudder PA with my weight vest on, effectively using the event itself as training for the Goruck Challenge. One of my friends, whom I met at Shawnee and with whom I competed at Ruckus, said he would be interested in doing the Goruck Challenge. We are going to get together and punish ourselves regularly (wearing weighted equipment and running in snow, randomly doing pushups in the mud/slush/highway, etc.) in preparation for Goruck. The distance concerns me (~17 miles I believe), but their pace seems far slower than my natural pace which I imagine might help.

 

I went running in the snow a few days ago and it was awful. Granted it was my first run since coming back to Boston, the snow was deep, it was a dry, bitter cold and I felt like I might die, but it’s a path I’ve run many times before so I felt like it would be manageable. I walked the last half of the run shamefully after having willed myself that far. I made it to the gym complex and proceeded to punish myself for my weakness in the elements. I did interval running (which is fantastic and will comprise a greater portion of my aerobic workouts henceforth), weighted jump rope sets (each handle weighted at 1lb – it’s a lot harder than it sounds), 30 minutes on the elliptical with medium-high resistance while randomly sprinting, more jump rope and finish with some isometric stretching. It was a great session but I’m worried about my poor performance outside. The Goruck and Tough Mudder runs will be significantly different just for the fact that it will be a different (more forgiving) season, but I expect more out of myself. Soon I will start doing my runs with the weighted vest.

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Hipoteza izostazji

Posted by Superfiend Oct 14, 2010

I woke up and got ready for my trail run. I ate a Clif bar, drank the Endurance Boosta, and had a packet of medicine-flavored Gatorade prep juice stuff.

 

I drove to the trails, got my Mudclaws on, stretched a bit, and took off up the trail. The weather was great and there were a few people walking on the trail. I ran to the Museum end without any difficulty. My arms were a bit stiff when I started, and as usual the first few minutes were the worst. Once I worked through the lethargy at the outset it felt like I was running downhill the whole time. The inclines were no trouble at all, and almost felt good.

 

I hurdled a high gate after reaching the bottom of the hill at the Museum, walked around twice in a circle, and resolved to just power right back up the hill without any significant rest - which was meant to simulate the amount of rest I might get before an obstacle in these events. On the way back up the first hill from the Museum, which is very rocky, I remember thinking "Wow I didn't get enough rest, I don't think I'll run the whole thing" but I basically just told myself to shut the hell up and run it.

 

And I did.

 

I ran the whole rest of the trail back to the entrance and flopped down on the grass to stretch and breathe the fresh air. It was terrific. My stretching habits are getting better (usually isometrics every day I run and regular static/dynamic on Strength days).

 

I have a friend coming to visit this weekend and I have to make sure this doesn't interfere with training. Only a short time before Shawnee, but I'll be ready for it. I'm beginning to, perhaps naively, imagine being amongst the top finishers. I've also been eyeing this log which would fit nicely on my shoulders for the run...

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The Beginning

Posted by Superfiend Sep 7, 2010

This is officially my first "blog". I'll do you all a favor right now and ensure that this is strictly about my training and not about my pretentious assumption that you give a damn what I had for lunch or how bored I am in school. I know where the chase is and how to cut right to it. The name of the blog makes reference to our team name: Marauders, of which I am the captain.

 

I decided the next two years of my life would include a substantial investment in athleticism regardless of any official involvement in events. I recently moved to Boston for Graduate School, and the school itself (Boston College) has a great Athletics Complex with a full weight room, courts of all kinds, a pool…and a jousting arena. I joust.

 

I had been doing some moderate training on my own, motivated to start running again thanks to the nearby reservoir after a mishap in France of over-running myself to the point of getting shin splints which, for those of you who have not experienced it, is a pleasure beyond simple linguistic description. I brought my kettlebells (two twenty pounders), my weighted jump rope (2lbs), my door frame pullup bar and an insufficient amount of whey protein mix. I worked out the first couple of days of my stay in Boston just out of sheer boredom. I finally worked up the courage to run again and took off to the reservoir. I was overly unimpressed with my performance (barely making it around its circumference of about a mile and a half), and resolved to visit it again, but not too soon for fear of tearing my apparently feeble calf muscle fibers. That day I came across a link for the Tough Mudder competition.

 

My experience with these style events goes back to a fascination I had developed while abroad for a year. I was in the habit of exercising on my own, again for no organized event, and stumbled upon a video for Tough Guy, which is amazingly inspiring and motivating. I unfortunately could not attend this event for various reasons and aside from sending the link to a few friends and inventing fantastic and ultimately specious aspirations for one day competing, it managed to fade away into my subconscious.

 

Tough Mudder breathed new life into these lost aspirations, and I resolved to compete, even alone. I rallied the interest of a few friends who I believe will be good additions to my team not only by the graces of their physical fitness but more importantly by the commensurate strength of our friendships. The day I discovered and decided to participate in Tough Mudder was coincidentally the same day I first ran the reservoir and though that was meant to be my only workout for the day I ended up working out again that night (Kettlebells, Pushups, Pullups, One-Leg Squats, Iron Bridge & Leg Crossovers...etc) and took a freezing shower to get tough. It felt incredible and my friends all seemed to be just as excited at the prospect as I was/am.

 

I've found a new motivation to train and it gives meaning to my exercise beyond general fitness, health and other various justifications to physical activity. Though the event is seven months away, I feel it looming as a distant reminder of my resolve and drive.

 

My current exercise routine consists as follows:

 

Lifting:

Kettlebells (Two, 20-pounds)

     Swings - 20 both hands between legs followed by 15 each hand followed by 10 alternating hands.

     "Curl Jerk"  - Something of my own invention. Standing straight, start with bicep curl from waist, then moves to a clean above head, then bring the bell behind you bending arm at the elbow, back up working the tricep, then back down to starting position.

     Rows - One in each hand.

     One-Leg Squat - Holding one kettlebell at chest level, squat down with one leg to full squat position, hold for a second, push back up and repeat. I usually do between 5-10 reps for each leg depending on whether I've done other leg work.

     Pushups - Propped on handles of the kettlebells, dip down for one deep pushup, come back up, lift kettlebell above self to make a vertical line with both arms, pump kettlebell once, bring back down, do two pushups, two pumps...etc. I usually do five working my weaker arm more.

    

Pullups

     I do them intermittently throughout the day. I alternate between (predominantly) overhand, wider than shoulder-width, thumbs facing me at shoulder width, and palms facing me inside shoulder width chinup.

 

Weighted Jump Rope (Each handle is 1lb)

     As long as I can. I've been counting jumps and I usually get around 150 before I lose form and call it a set.

 

Running

     I really don't enjoy running, but it's essential for this event (about a seven mile run). I've run the reservoir once since I got here. In order to emulate just the distance aspect of the Tough Mudder I'd have to run around the reservoir about 5 times. This isn't taking into account the angle of the hills I'll be running at Bear Creek, so I'll have to work some ellipticals and angled treadmills at the gym unless I manage to find a good outdoor place to run near Boston.

 

Swimming

     I love swimming, but I'm not in swimming shape like I was in High School. I'm working it into my schedule, and expect to see great improvement in my overall fitness as a result. I won't go into details about what I swim because 1) I really don't have a set workout yet and 2) because it's pretty much irrelevant anyway.

 

I divide days by the activity. I swim in the mornings and lift at night. Then I’ll run the next day, and possibly lift again that night. I listen to my body and rest when I think it’s appropriate.

 

My diet is inconsistent at the moment because of the recent change in my lifestyle, but I’m making sure to eat lots of protein (eggs, whey, meats) and take in plenty of calories (frequent, decently portioned meals) to offset the increased physical activity. I’ll regularize my diet soon and hopefully have something intelligent to post in the coming weeks.

 

I feel great about this initiative in every way. I’m optimistic about my team’s energy, my personal training and the multiple benefits it will afford us as individuals and a team unit.

 

If I get ambitious I might make a video of my workout routine and post it.

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