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So you’re running a mud run? Not exactly…

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Yes, there is a mud in the photo above… lots of it, in fact.  When I tell people that I am running a Spartan Race or, in this case, the Warrior Dash, a lot of them say it’s a mud run.  There are a lot of misconceptions between mud runs and OCR (obstacle course racing).  I will do my best to define the two and maybe help some of you differentiate them.

A mud run is typically set up by a group as a fundraiser or another type of run instead of the traditional 5k or 10k road race.  Mud runs may or may not contain obstacles, because the events tend to focus more on muddiness. These events also tend to be less competitive. It’s more of the ‘weekend warrior’ type event where the participants are having a good time getting dirty – usually taking a clean before and a dirty after picture to commemorate the run.  Many times, OCR competitors use mud runs as a training run for more competitive events as the mud runs are closer to home in many cases.

Obstacle course races are different because they are usually set up as timed events with a strict performance standard for the obstacles. In addition, at some races there are penalties when an obstacle is skipped or not completed to standard.  Obstacle races will have tougher obstacles than a typical mud run, such as rope climbs, stone carries or water traverses.  These obstacles require more physically fit competitors.

Mud runs and obstacle course races are fun for those that are tired of the one foot in front of the other road races that have been around for ages.  These runs take participants off the beaten path (literally) and out of the person’s normal comfort zone.

For more information about these races, click one of the links below or Google the terms ‘mud run’ or ‘obstacle course race’ with your state or area to see what is available for you.

Spartan Race – several levels of competition.  Some courses have a Biggest Loser heat…

Tough Mudder – check out the Arctic Enema.  Not for the feint of heart.

Warrior Dash – good entry level racing.  Climbing and mud obstacles on the courses.

Zombie Run – you can run as the survivor or the zombie.  Includes night racing opportunities.

Ultimate Challenge Mud Run – a South Carolina run that has grown from a mud run to a full-fledged OCR event.

GoRuck Challenge – one of the ultimate tests of your fitness… you never know what you’ll get!

There are tons more of these races popping up around the country.  A quick Google search will give you a list of them in your area, state or other parts of the world.  My biggest piece of advice – TRAIN.  Many of the series have emailed workouts where you can get yourself into race-ready shape.  Advice part #2 – eat right.  Nutrition is key to completing the race – you are using your entire body instead of just the movements involved with road racing.  Advice part #3 – hydrate.  Water is your friend and you will see a lot of racers using hydration packs (Geigerrig or Camelbak) on the longer runs.

Enjoy the races… get out of your comfort zone and enjoy the world around you.  Even if you have to get dirty to do it!

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Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Writing

 

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Boston is WAY too close to home!

As a runner, I was stopped in my tracks today when I heard about the bombing of the Boston Marathon.  I’m not here to speculate on who did it or what the reasoning (or lack of) was.  I am deeply saddened for those injured in the race and on the sidelines.

In the past five weeks I have run two races – including one of the largest 10k races in the US.  The Cooper River Bridge run is one of – if not the – largest 10k race with 45,000 runners taking part.  Prior to the start of that race a lady was talking to her friend and said out loud, “we are a perfect target in this chute.”  Of course, in today’s terror-laden world, we always think about what could be next… a race wasn’t one of THOSE targets.  Until today.

I don’t care what you try to legislate… guns, ammunition, soft drinks, cigarettes or whatever.  You will NEVER legislate or regulate evil.  I am not preaching here – that is not my occupation.  All I can tell you is to do right by people and make sure you can go to bed with a clear conscious every night, whether that is through prayer or good deeds.

Good CAN prevail.  Thank someone, hug someone, tell someone you love them.  This can be the biggest buddy system in the world… and you know it – no one is bigger than the buddy system!  Watch each other’s backs and stand in the gap for those that need it.

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Just Me, Running, Writing

 

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The iTunes Running/Walking Workout

I went for a run tonight with no set direction or distance. I wanted to get in a run since I missed my workout due to an extended phone call with a client. Normally I would set my Nike+ iPhone app for a specific distance (e.g. 3 miles, 5k or longer) or I would run for a specified amount of time, say, 30 minutes on a lunch break or over an hour on a training run.

Tonight was different.  So, I used a different strategy for my workout… an iTunes workout.

The workout came to me a year or so ago when I was running on the beach at Isle of Palms, South Carolina.  My usual routes include either a right hand turn out of the beach house toward Breech Inlet or a left hand turn toward Wild Dunes.  These are very good early morning runs, however I needed extra motivation because I had seen the terrain multiple times.

Ergo, the iTunes workout… it’s easy and anyone with an MP3 player full of songs can do it… run to the fast songs and walk to the slow songs.  Simple.  I know.  But very useful and fun!

Options:

  1. Walkers:  Play the music… when Metallica’s Fuel comes on the player, walk fast.  When Jack Johnson starts playing, slow down and catch your breath.
  2. Joggers:  Again, play the music… fast songs mean a run and slow songs mean a walk
  3. Runners:  Yep, play the music… hard charge for the fast songs and slow jog for the slower ones.

Ok… this is not going to win you the Ironman Triathlon but it is a fun way to mix up your workout.  Just wait until you run hard for the 4:27 of Buckcherry’s Highway Star only to slow down for 3:12 while Jack Johnson makes Banana Pancakes only to run your tail off for 6:16 of Guns n Roses’ You Could be Mine.

You may wind up with three slow songs back to back to back only to be slapped in the face with multiple fast songs… the key is to play directly from the music library and not by artist or manually-constructed playlist.

Make your running or walking fun… that is the only way you will truly enjoy it!

PS – you get to decide which songs are fast or slow (no in-betweens).  Don’t cheat yourself!

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2013 in Running, Writing

 

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The Spartan Beast – part 1

You’ve asked about it, so I am writing a two-part blog series on the Spartan Race. This post is a little background on the Beast event I ran a few weeks back.

The Finisher's Medal

Spartan Beast Finisher Medal

A little background on the event… the Spartan Race series has three levels: Sprint, Super Spartan and Beast. I’m not even getting into the Death Race format – I’m NOT doing it, so there is no need to cover it. If you want information on it just click the link I added. The Sprint level is 3+ miles, the Super level is 8+ miles and the Beast is 12+ miles (although these are just for conversation purposes…). I ran the Sprint in Charlotte, NC in March 2012 and it wound up near the four mile mark, however the Beast I ran ended up closer to 13.5 miles. Again, the numbers are just to “class” the races.

The Beast was held at Carolina Adventure World, a place I have no idea even existed. Pretty cool area, though, with ATV trails, hiking areas, mud bog areas and a lot of beautiful South Carolina wilderness. I believe I saw the majority of it either ON the trail or at areas where I could look out across the expanse. Winnsboro, SC is the address for the spot and it is approximately 20-30 minutes from Columbia.

I was clean at this point

For the full 411, visit the Spartan Race website for upcoming dates, photos, etcetera.

More background on the Spartan Series… think the movie 300, Gladiator TV series on Starz or even the Russell Crowe movie Gladiator. The series is centered around that period in history – all the way down to the Spartan creed, the Spartan mascot and the screams of AROO! AROO! AROO! that replace the starting gun you hear at most races. Many of the racers choose Spartan attire with men in shorts and shoes only and women, many times, in sports bra, shorts and shoes. I chose to cover up a little more with a sleeveless shirt, shorts, soccer socks and trail shoes… I learned a little from my Sprint experience in March! It really doesn’t matter what you wear and you want to trash it when you are done anyhow. SIDE NOTE: the Spartan organizers allow you to dump your shoes at the end and they will clean and donate them to third-world countries. I did not do this at the Sprint but did at the Beast.

So on to the starting line we go for the 9:00 am heat… Myself and about 200 other racers ready to tackle the – at the time – 12-mile course. We hear the Spartan creed, vow to help our fellow Spartans return and shout AROO! as we run through the smoke field. I’ll do my best to remember all of the obstacles, but I can guarantee you they will not be in order. Here is a sampling:

1. Over, under, through – a staple of Spartan races where you go, you guessed it, over, under and through a wall. The wall is approximately 4 feet tall and you either jump over it, crawl under it (a 12-18″ area) or pull yourself through the opening in the center.

2. Under the net – I’m sure there is another name, but this one is a low crawl under a bar with a netting material on one side… we did two of these in succession.

3. Walls – 4, 5, 6 and 8 foot walls. These are spaced throughout the course – many are easy to bound over but some require the use of a partner or two people – which IS allowed to complete the obstacle.

4. Over-the-log – again, this is my name for this obstacle. Logs are placed five feet off the ground and you have to bound – or climb – over five of them in succession.

5. Tractor pull – a concrete stone is attached to a chain and you must drag it down, around and back up a course approximately 100′ in length. I am not sure of the weight of the stone but I would estimate it at 45-50 pounds.

6. Atlas Stones – pick up the stone for your sex (men and women have different weights), carry to one side. Drop the stone, lift again and return to the starting point. I would estimate the men’s stone was 75 pounds. We had this obstacle twice on the course.

7. Tire flip – grab the tire and flip it five times forward and five times back.

8. Cargo net – climb the cargo net and return down the other side.

9. Large cargo net on A frame – climb the cargo net and return down the other side,

10. Rope climb – a knotted rope climb. Two of these on the course.

11. Barbed wire mud low-crawl – the first one was on a semi rise… with a fire hose spraying water on everyone. The second one was on a hill approximately 60-degrees going UP. Yep, with another fire hose spraying the course.

12. Tyrolean traverse – ropes pulled across the lake… you warp your ankles over the rope and pull yourself to the other side. Ropes are about 6′ off the water at the highest point.

13. Sandbag carry – grab a Spartan pancake and carry it up the hill and back down. Length of course is approximately 150-yards total.

14. Concrete pull – a 50-75 pound concrete block is pulled up a rope to a height of approximately 15′ and then slowly lowered back to the ground.

15. Rolling mud – three-part mud pit/hill climb. Cross the mud pit and then scamper up the muddy hill to the next pit. The entire obstacle is around 50′ long. There are two of these obstacles on the course.

16. Band hop – place ankles through a small rubber band – approximately 12″ in diameter. Hop across a set of tires four rows deep, then hop over two logs and return to starting position.

17. Pit jump – either jump the 6′ pit or wade through it… three in a row.

18. Javelin throw – toss a javelin into the straw bale and make it stick

19. Horizontal wall – cross the wall with only your fingertips and edges of shoes on the small pieces of 2×4 boards… the boards are canted at all angles.

20. Mid pit and slippery wall – cross the mud pit – under barb wire – and then grab the rope to pull yourself up the slippery wall. At the top, climb down the ladder wall on opposite side.

21. Tall ladder over the road – climb up and down the other side of the containers.

22. Fire pit – get a good running start so you don’t burn the hair off your legs!

… and always the last obstacle in the Spartan Race…

23. Gladiator pit – get a good running start and be prepared for a gut punch from the pugile sticks!

I left out the obstacle runs… these are runs through the woods, up trails, on switchbacks, through the river beds, over beaver dams and all kinds of other places the organizers decide to make you run!

After the Spartan Beast

After the Beast

So ends part one of the race updates… In the next post I will talk about the actual running of the race and preparations I did prior to running.

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Just Me, Running

 

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Out of my “Comfort Zone”

Those that truly know me know that I cannot stand being comfortable.

A tough statement, I know.  Of course, on a physical level, I like cool air on a hot day and a warm house on a cold day.  I’m not talking about that kind of comfortable.  I guess I am pointing this toward – stagnation – a failure to progress, develop or advance.  When people get comfortable, they stop DOING.  This can be in a job, with your family or just in life itself.

The Dirt Spot analogy:  Picture a pond.  Water flows into the pond.  Stirring oxygen.  Providing for the living things inside.  Then, for some reason, the water stops flowing into the pond… the oxygen begins to deplete and the water becomes stagnant.  As the water becomes stagnant, life dies.  The water starts to evaporate away and the depth goes away… the pool becomes shallow.  Then, at some terminal point, the pond is gone and all that is left is a dirt spot marking the area that once held vibrant life.

It is a dismal picture and one that happens day in and day out in PEOPLE.  For some reason the water stops flowing in to spur the oxygen and the life is drained from the body.  People get comfortable.  They think the water of life will always flow in to keep the motor running.  And then… nothing.

I cannot stand being comfortable.  Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.”  I call it switching seats on the Titanic – it doesn’t matter where you sit, the ship is still going down.

So, to combat this, I do something every so often to restart the life flow into my body… I’ve changed jobs.  I’ve rappelled upside-down off a waterfall.  I’ve run races of varying lengths – 5k, 10k and three 13.1 mile half marathons.  Stood in front of an audience of 2600 people to raise money for various charities… all to keep life alive within myself!

Sure – the stagnant ones around me all say, “You’re crazy” or “How do you do it all?” or simply, “WHY?”.  The simple answer – God gave me a body and I am going to make use of it.  I feel it is a sin to waste away.

So my latest endeavor?  The Spartan Sprint in Charlotte, NC.  A four-mile obstacle/mud run built to take you completely out of any comfort zone you have ever had…

Just a few of the obstacles… 4′, 6′ and 8′ climbing walls, stone pull, hoist a 5 gallon bucket of concrete up 25′, climb a steep incline with only a rope, traverse the edge of a river for approximately 1/4 mile (in the water), throw a spear, jump a fire pit… all while running on a muddy trail through the ups and downs of the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte.

Correct… a four mile run WITH obstacles! Exactly what I needed to strip my comfort level back to zero.  Now, of course, you could say this would raise my comfort level.  Sure.  I can see that as a positive result of the experience as well.

Up next… the Spartan Beast in October.  I’ll be comfortable again by then.  Medical condition?  Psychosis?  Mid-life crisis?  Eh, whatever.  Figure out what you need to reenergize your life and GO FOR IT!

Here’s a little something to get you on the right track… enjoy!  (By the way, I turn 40 on April 10th… it’s not a mid-life crisis… I’ve only lived 1/3 of my life!)

The Rocky Balboa Speech to his son:

It was great just watchin’ you, every day was like a privilege. Then the time come for you to be your own man and take on the world, and you did. But somewhere along the line, you changed. You stopped being you. You let people stick a finger in your face and tell you you’re no good. And when things got hard, you started lookin’ for something to blame, like a big shadow.

Let me tell you something you already know.The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth! But you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2012 in Just Me, Motivation, Running, Travel

 

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From the gym, road and garage

Ah yes… Still on the road to youth-dom! If that is not a word, it is now! Youthdom is my new goal in life – most of you know I am the youngest 39 year-old most of you know and I will continue to improve as I inch closer to 40 in April.

I am a full fledged member of Performance QSA in Greenville, SC. The folks there have a different mentality when it comes to fitness. Over the years I have been a member at various gyms, clubs and involved with “programs” to get me in shape. None of which actually did anything to motivate me to do better… QSA sends me emails, postcards and gives motivating words during classes. I can’t go wrong.

Well… Maybe I can. Food is still an issue (for another blog post) but Nadine at QSA is retraining my brain. With the help of the LoseIt! app she turned me on to, I am making progress. SCARY to see the caloric content of foods I once loved!

Anyway, back to the training… you schedule your workout and take part in an hourlong kick butt routine that changes daily – nothing is ever the same so to keep your body guessing… and improving! The largest attendance at a session I have attended was six – with two trainers. This is as close to one-on-one as you can get. However, this beats being the only person as you are constantly competing against those in the session with you – males and females. Everyone works to their own level and everyone is put to the test.

Add to this the running I am doing – sporadically – and you get a whale of a workout routine! I say sporadically as I am constantly on the road traveling. Excuses, excuses, excuses. I know.

Well, I am off to conduct an appraisal today… then I will perform the ‘hotel room’ workout QSA provides their members when they travel. Not as kick butt as being in the workout room, but it is still intense enough to keep me at a good sweat level.

And… we’re off! Until our next stop…

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2011 in Running

 

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Training updates… 9 Sept 11

Here we are… A little bit of updating on where we’ve been this week. Physical therapy is going well- we are getting close to moving to one day a week as I progress toward discharge. The shoulder is still an issue, especially now that I am running longer runs. It seems that holding my arm at that angle puts additional stress on the biceps tendinitis I have… Eh, whatever. Small price to pay!

Training runs have been going well this week. I am running for time as I build my cardio back. My allergist says that the deconditioning my body has experienced by NOT running is reversible – as I already knew – but is the hardest part of going back into a training regimen. Also, it is what causes people to stop training due to frustration. I am taking it slow. Yes, I said that. I am taking it slow. I know that is a hard concept for those of you that know me… Now, pick yourself off the floor… I’m not done yet! 😉

So, moving forward. I have been documenting the runs and using the iPhone app from Nike that tracks your route, timing and conditions of the run. All of that data is being uploaded to the Nike+ site in the event I forget to document my runs… yes, that happens!

Thank you all for the comments online through Facebook, Twitter and face-to-face. I am writing the blog for accountability and to document to everyone my progression from rehab to finish line.

From the recharge station at ATL, I’m signing off.

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2011 in Running

 

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