My first Spartan Race is just weeks ago and this week Mark and I did obstacle-specific training and went on our first outdoor run. Read on to see how I tackled each obstacle and set new a personal record for miles ran. And if you're late to the party, click here to see hows Weeks 1-2 of my Spartan SGX Training went.
Week 3: The Workout
About the move: This week we really got technical starting out with what I would say is level two for grip strength which was the inverted row. To anyone new who is trying Spartan, I haven’t even ran a Spartan yet and I can’t tell you how important grip strength is. I watch videos every night to get better mentally and physically and the best word that comes to mind is “taxing.” This exercise is very taxing on your biceps and great for your core. We used the official Spartan Race rope ordered from Spartan.com. You better have your gloves ready for this one or your hands may get torn.
Lessons Learned: There is a reason why elite Spartans make this “look easy.” It is very difficult. These exercises are giving me grit and mental strength to push myself to new limits.
The Herculeus Hoist
About the move: Alright, so basically we have a rope and a 45 lb plate tied by a double twist not. Pull it to the top and…that’s it. Pretty simple, right? This is not simple at all. Although this is one of my better exercises because I am much better at heavy lifting naturally than I am with body weight movements, do not underestimate what I am telling you. When you grip the rope, there are no pulleys or wheels up at the top for assistance. The first couple times is simple but when you do it 30 times in the midst of a circuit, it gets tiring.
Lessons Learned: Using my foot on the bottom of the hoist in a sitting position gives you great leverage on the pull. On the initial first pull, you want to give it a nice jump into a pull to build momentum and mental stability. The mental stability is built because it gives you the initial lift and you tell yourself, “Yes I can do this.” When lowering the weight to the ground from the apex of the pull, do it slow because if you just drop it to the ground, you’ve just earned yourself a solid 30 burpees.
About the move: This week we started doing box jumps for speed to simulate constant motion in obstacles during a race. The box you see in the video is a 20 inch height. Yes, it’s not a large leap but with speed and in the middle of sets, this is very taxing work. If you are trying a box jump for the first time, you really want to use your arms. Your arms are so important for releasing explosive energy and catapulting you to the top of the box.
Lessons Learned: Stay focused and LOOK AT THE BOX. I can’t tell you that looking away from your target is a huge mistake. You need to achieve balance and get in the groove jump after jump. If you miss the jump, try again and again. This is not something you learn on the first shot.
After 3 rounds of the above workouts I finished with a ½ mile jog into 20 burpees, another ½ mile jog into “Roll to Bear” for 40 seconds to finish it out. After all of these exercises the jog wasn’t the issues, it was 100% the burpees. I blew through 5 and hit a wall but I made a vow to always finish my workouts. I got through them with a struggle but I did it. The “Roll to Bear” is one of my favorite exercises because it tests your agility and grit to keep moving.
Week 4: The Workout
5 Minute Stairmaster
About the move: This was just the warm up and I blew through it on level 8 speed. I am seeing progression and understanding the goal of being a Spartan. If you look at the Stairmaster, it may look intimidating but it’s just another obstacle. I knew this was going to be one hell of a difficult day ahead. Every step up I said to myself, “this is for a new you and a new lease on your health and image.”
Lessons Learned: No mercy! Never give up and when your legs hurt, it’s just the fear leaving your body.
20 walking lunges (non-stop)
About the move: This is normally pretty easy and I got through it without much issue but I felt it in my quads and calves after a 5-minute stair climb on such a high speed. The key here is to focus on balance and stabilizing yourself. I found a center point across the room and just went for it and finished it.
Lessons Learned: Use your momentum to carry you and embrace the pain as a sign of strength as you go to the ground with each lunge. This is not easy for a starter to do but it is definitely feasible. Work up to it and you will do just fine. If I can do it, so can you.
This is another exercise where I really excel due to having a solid strength foundation. I work with the 50lb medicine ball all the time but taking into account the day ahead, 30 lbs sufficed. Take a 30lb bag and maneuver into a squat position and build momentum upwards as you throw the bag across the room as far as you can. On a conservative estimate, I think I launched the bag about 12 feet. Remember this is mid-workout so willpower will carry you here.
Lessons Learned: Doing squats on a regular basis without weight is very important to get the form down and the overall movement centered. I would say get comfortable doing approximately 35 squats in a row just by yourself no weight attached. My last advice for this is to keep up your grit and do not sacrifice performance and stay consistent on your throwing distance. Do not just throw the bag two feet give it everything you’ve got!
5 minute Incline Treadmill Walk
About the move: This exercise was used to simulate Tuxedo’s terrain climbing an array of hills through the course. Put the treadmill to a speed of 3 which is a nice solid walk and get that incline up to an 8! I was very tired doing this after the 4th minute. I focused on the medal that I would receive. Not because it is a medal for me but an honor to have changed my life with such support that I have been given.
Lessons Learned: With this exercise you are 100% going to want to touch the handrails of the treadmill. Don’t do it! Last time I checked, a mountain doesn’t offer handrails. I touched it a few times but I kept myself in check and tried not to touch them. Next time, I won’t even look at them. This exercise is a great Spartan test of willpower. Add a sandbag or two and have a blast. Make it your own!
Resistance Band Sprint
About the move: Mark strapped a mega band to my waist and pulls with everything he’s got to hold me back from sprinting forward. This class classic exercise is an oldie but effective. I sprinted as fast as I could from one end of the gym to another. The tension was very high on the band but I just kept in my mind why I am doing this. Every step I just made believe I was running from my past demons. Nothing can hold you back when you give it everything you’ve got. I blew through this exercise and had a blast doing it.
Lessons Learned: Keep your momentum strong because without that, you will undoubtedly collapse. Keep a sprinter’s form with your back parallel to the ground and don’t for get to use your arms. Gun it and reach the wall! Oh…and then do it again!
Side Plank with Rotation
About the move: This wasn’t that bad for me. I really surprised myself and did ok with this considering my strength has been increasing in my arms. Keep your balance and core strength intact.
About the move: This was a speed of 7 which is still a very fast run for 5 sets of 30 seconds. I was not doing this fresh either. I was doing this after all of the other heavily involved workouts. I got through 3 of the 30 second time limits and took a 1 minute break in between. However, after the 3rd run, I finished it and took a knee. I was just thinking, “Get your ass up and finish this workout.” I finished the last two with everything I had and just kept going.
Lessons Learned: Don’t underestimate how long 30 seconds is when sprinting. Put your best foot forward and follow through with every step. Try to land on the middle of your foot and roll forward. Do not flat foot it because it will do a number on your joints and that is not what you need after doing a workout like this.
30 Assisted Pullups
About the move: While I may not be ready for the big leagues of pullups, I had to do 30 pullups to finish the day out and it was pretty difficult to say the least.
Lessons Learned: My advice here on the home stretch is to focus on drinking water and taking a break. Spartan Up and finish the exercise.
Saturday: The 5- mile outdoor jog
I woke up that morning thinking I was going to break my previous record of 3.2 miles last week that I did at the Heights 5K. My trainer walked in and said, you’re doing 5 miles today. I’m a beginner runner so you know I’m thinking, “Oh god that’s 20 laps.” I had a good warmup with a just a few box jumps up the bleachers and runs up and down the staircase. We started the jog and by the first mile I was OK and noticed that I got in a good groove. I was starting to feel it in my calf big time approaching the 8th lap. I realized that I wasn’t even half way there. I started to develop a run-walk pattern. I would walk a lap and then jog a lap. After the 3-mile mark, I started to challenge myself and push forward to jog as much as possible. The weather was perfect which was a great thing and I had water but this was a personal record for me so it definitely felt more difficult for that reason alone.
When I went passed my previous 3.2 mile mark from last week I started to feel the adrenaline kick in. I took a slow jog through mile 4 and approaching mile 5 I gave it everything I had. I went to the 19th lap and took to the staircases. We finished the 5-mile mark running the staircases of Heights Field. My trainer took the lead the first time and I wanted to take the lead on the second stair lap. I was blowing through the staircases after all of that because I saw the goal. I did 2 sets of 6 climbs through the staircases and sprinted to the other end of the track and nailed the 5.03 mile mark. It was a life accomplishment that I will never forget.
I now know that I can finish the Spartan distance wise. Yes. there were no obstacles here but that is what I will be training for. June 2 will be one of the biggest days of my entire life. It will be a renewal and a second shot.
I did not do this alone. I have a great support system that has helped me all the way. I know that people do this with less resources and less help than I ever had but that makes it more of a fact that there are ZERO excuses to not make progress. I have learned a library of exercises that would not have been possible without Mark. He embodied the true essence of a Spartan and a transcendent mentality. My friends have been nothing but a great support system as well as my family. I am now at a total of 900lbs combined on deadlift (360lb raw), squat (275lbs) (new record soon to come here) and bench (265lbs). I know for a fact I will hit 1000 lbs before June 2. There is nothing that is going to destroy my goals or my mentality. I hope that I have inspired you to be the best that you can be. Follow me on the road to Spartan and beyond. I didn’t spend hours writing this because I want a spotlight. I did it for inspiration to others to show them that anyone can be a Spartan.