From Couch To Spartan Sprint – Exercise 1

As you know I ran my first Spartan Sprint race a few days ago and more than just being a great time it is also evidence. Evidence that – since I had a complete success having a great time, completing every obstacle, and doing great on the running – I trained the right way. Or at least the rightest way I could since I never found a rope to climb before hand.

So I want to put the insights I had before and the insights I’ve gained since to use. Right now I’ve got 4 things and I’m sure I’ll come up with more as I go, each post will have a blog and a video for however you like to get down. Here we go, video 1:

 

Exercise 1 is you gotta stoke your flame. What you feel right now is inspiration and inspiration is the most fleeting, least helpful card in the deck, know that, but right now it’s all you’ve got. Right now you have no foundation, no motivation, no habits, so the tiny little flame of inspiration – however you got it – is the muscle that you need to work.

You may think you have a goal – to run a Spartan Race – but you don’t. You have inspiration, you have a desire. Something in you is telling you that running a Spartan will get you to a goal, to a way you want to feel, and you need to start sorting that out so you can turn inspiration into motivation.

How best to do that? Write it out.

Now this isn’t a suggestion, this is exercise 1, if you don’t build this foundation and do these fundamental steps then you’ll just as likely not do the squats and rope climbs later. In lifting everything is about stability and this how you start to find stability.

So write it on a post it note like I say in the video and re-write that post it every week or hell, every day. Post its are cheap and you can take literally one second every morning to write SPARTAN on a note and stick it to your door.

But really you should write it out in longer form to turn inspiration into motivation. You can do it in a column but I actually think doing a web is better. Write SPARTAN in the middle and in bubbles around it write all the things that you think of to do a race.

Camaraderie, revenge, getting in shape, pride, testing a rope climb, whatever you think of no matter how odd.

Afterward you’ll notice that some things wound up in bigger bubbles than others and those things are the one that clearly mean the most to you so that’s what you want to think about when you hit a moment of hesitation in training. And let’s be real you’re probably already having a moment of hesitation! You’re probably not psyched up to do writing exercises, you thought this was going to be all Rocky-style push ups in the mud and you’d feel great and I’m here to tell you you won’t, that’s just mental masturbation. If you bif this exercise you’ll bif them all down the line. Period.

And if you rock this exercise you will rock exercises down the line. Period.

The supplemental stuff you can is find your theme song, get work-out clothes and make them your armour and say when I wear these I cheer myself on and never doubt myself, build your athletic persona, Leave No Doubt.

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Videos I Liked This Week

The week I got into Prison YouTube, I’ll do my best to spare the insane amount of videos I watched but man is it interesting…. Plus there’s still some Crossfit Games content trickling in and OCR stuff to watch.

So via another channel (Punk Rock MBA) I found Big Herc and his Fresh Out channel…

 

…Through that I found Wes Watson.

 

That’s just the most recent video because every one of his videos is like that. Terrifying. I might have mentioned it online but I was certainly talking about IRL that I’ve got motivational bullshit burn out. Everything, every book every tedtalk, is just so and so was fat and didn’t believe in themselves and then they did and now blah blah blah.

Having Wes Watson yell at you though? Yeah, I feel like working out, I feel like not making excuses because he might appear.

Okay let’s push a mental reset:

 

And talk a little OCR before we go on with the other intense stuff from this week.

I watched a bunch of obstacle tutorials and full-races but this obstacle just freaks me out, damn you Tough Mudder.

 

Followed by an interesting discussion of Closure. When the phrase Life Isn’t About Closure caught on I fucking hated it. People would just use it to say they don’t care about whatever difficult thing you’re going through.

 

Finally, Steve-O talking about one of my favourite subjects suicide and recovery. The fact that he talks about how after being clean for a while it’s actually much harder. Getting sober doesn’t solve your problems, it actually lets the problems you’ve been running from catch up to you and you have no coping mechanisms except getting wasted. That’s an important reality I think people need to know. Getting clean is the start of the hard part. The stories that we see spend 90% of the time glamorizing the decent then act like the decision to get clean was a revelation and everything changed from there.

 

Man, what a week of dark, bummer, videos. Sorry team.

 

Spartan Race Report

Happiest Day Of My Life.20190810_115909

Before the event my friends, life was stressful. I was relying on transit to get there and I forgot that to rely on transit you have to leave an hour before you have to leave even if you think you’re already leaving an hour early. But I got there an hour before my start time and it was cold. I realized that I should wait to get changed in order to stay warm and then realized since Ben was meeting me there I could get him to hold my bag rather than check it so I could get changed sooner after the event.

This created the problem that Ben was arriving 10:30ish and my heat was 10:45. So I was standing at the gate holding my bag and looking at the people from my heat milling around the start line and rapidly losing time that, if I was going to check my bag I had to do it now.

But it all worked out. Ben, cigarette in mouth, jogged for the first time in years to get to the start for me and hold my purse. True friend, love him.

So on to the motherfuckin’ race!

Even getting told to go over the wall to the start line was awesome. The bravado and amped up atmosphere is what I always wanted at road races and stuff, it’s what I want at work.

So we take off after the chant and I went out with the fastest guys and smoked passed them, I caught up to the back of the heat before us and smoked passed them too. I’m a runner, I run. I don’t need to save energy for obstacles because it’s really two different, finely honed, systems on my part.

I leap the first two walls nice and easy, thinking ahead to the harder obstacles at the end, and then come to the first water hazard. It’s chest deep and extremely muddy at the bottom. And stank. So that’s when it got real, the Spartan was officially on for me then.

Running up and down increasingly steep hills and narrow paths, still picking off people from earlier heats and joking around with some of the other tough guys at times was great and the first tough obstacle was the sand bucket. It was surprisingly taxing and there’s no great way to hold it.

Then sand bags were great because there is a great way to hold it – atlas style on the back of the neck and shoulders. So I knocked that out and got to the rings.

This is where the first funny thing happened. Hanging and hanging and hanging while the woman ahead of me struggled and wailed to hit the bell because she couldn’t let go with one hand. I’m super nice and supportive but in my head I’m like please fucking drop.

And drop she did. I got to the last ring and pulled up to swat the bell and in her defense it’s not super easy.

Anyway next was… something, I dunno.

The two things I was worried about hadn’t come yet so I was still thinking about that.

First of the two was Atlas Carry. Now you can’t atlas carry the Atlas Carrying. It’s a big, muddy stone sphere on the ground you gotta pick up and carrying a distance and back. As a wild-ass guess I’d say it was 80lbs. I was starting to feel the cumulative exertion and when I squat down and got the rock up to waist height I was instantly in tunnel vision and for the first and only time I thought maybe I’ll vomit…

Got it done though. So far no missed obstacles.

More running but like death shuffle running at that point. More water, more mud.

And then my rope climb. I was trying to find a rope to climb all month and never found one or a gym with a good drop in that had one so I didn’t know if I could do it, especially the foot technique.

More than that though I hadn’t thought about climbing a muddy rope with freezing wet hands while exhausted.

So I jumped up, got both hands on it to see what it was like and – it’s hard. I got my feet on it though like I’d seen Crossfitters do and I felt the shift from all the weight being in my hands to feeling dispersed through my body, it doesn’t make it easier per se but it feels so much more controlled. So I made one more progression up still thinking I was in practice mode and just seeing what it’s like when I looked down and it was already higher than I wanted to fall from. So I was like well fuck I better get to the top first try then. And I did.

Climbing, cargo nets, and then the fucking dunk wall.

I was laughing and psyching myself up to swim under this fucking thing when home boy got up beside me and was laughing too. He started counting down from 3 and we went together into the cold muddy black of that filth.

It was disgusting when I came back up, just mud pouring out of my hair onto my face, mud in my nose, and now I’m fully soaked in the cold wind but almost done.

Spear throw, the most missed obstacle is next. I got this advice online: Don’t throw it like a baseball, throw it like a dart. And it worked. I didn’t miss the most missed obstacle.

I charged up and over the last A frame wall like a barbarian and crossed the line 46 minutes after I started, suspecting that this was the happiest I’ve ever been.

I didn’t want anything else, I was happy – thrilled – just to be existing, and I almost never get to feel that way.

Then Benny and I started celebrating our dicks off.

I was too amped up to eat but oh man did beers go down fast. When you have a massive adrenaline buzz you don’t perceive the alcohol buzz coming up and as I knew that was happening I didn’t care because I was happy.

I was supposed to go see one of my all-time favourite bands play a reunion show that night and I’d been looking forward to it for months, all the old friends and getting a taste of the good old days. But after Spartan I didn’t care anymore, I didn’t care about the old days, this day was good.

Happiest day of my life. And I didn’t want or need anything else.

Thoughts On The Crossfit Games During The Final Day

It’s Sunday morning, the swim event is done, and I’ve got some thoughts. If you’re not watching live this will contain spoilers and if you’re not following CF then this will all be gibberish to you.

First things first – The Cuts.

I liked them then I hated them, pretty much like everyone else.

It was cool to see all the new people, the national champs, out there giving their best and then it was cool not to have to put up with them the whole weekend.

Then, yes, the cuts gave urgency to the early events.

But then the shift happened. And suddenly very viable athletes, podium contenders and former podium winners, got cut for tiny little shit. Basically bad luck ended the games for some amazing athletes and fan favourites. It feels insulting. To us and to them.

To be fair and balanced though it did give us the weight lifting event – which would have been impossible with a field of anymore athletes. So it’s still a hit/miss thing.

On to the big thing: Noah Olsen leading the men’s division over Fraser.

Now here’s my thing with Olsen; I had just recently stopped liking him and this has brought me back around.

Last year Olsen seemed to me like a nice dude and a good, but immature, athlete. And when I say immature I mean his tendency to start events too fast and burn out. That’s the Olsen magic trade mark.

What bugged me though is he wouldn’t acknowledge that. He would always, after losing events, say that he had a great time and people were so supportive and blah blah blah positivity bullshit. Putting the nice guy band-aid on rather looking at his weakness and working on them.

And in the event where he overtook Fraser even the Rogue announcers were joking, literally joking at his expense, about Olsen going out too hot and blowing up – and then it was amazing to watch him hold the lead and hold the lead and defy expectations. It’s a moment that will go down in the history, it’ll be Olsen’s personal Toomey/Webb moment.

So Olsen’s leading and he’s holding on, having the performance of his life – especially considering he barely qualified, he essentially didn’t qualify, he lucked in because of Vellner and (I think) Travis Mayer.

Like I said, this post is for Crossfit fans so I’m not explaining any of these things. Take it.

Anyway watching Olsen be the lead has been great. I’m proud of him for taking it and yet I still thought it would be a fluke but he’s held on and he’s stayed himself. He’s waving, happy, signing things for fans and being the nice guy. His nice guyism isn’t just an act to take the sting off a loss, it’s at least also how he celebrates. And while Fraser is an inspirational champ, Olsen is a totally opposite style of champ that’s also inspirational.

So it’s all cool for Olsen. And it’s given us the gift of watching hungry, young Fraser again. It’s great to see Fraser dominate these last few years but it made us forget what we loved about him the first time round when he ascended. He ascended to champion Mat. And Champion Mat is very cool as I said but Competitor Mat, the Mat that came to stone-face kill whole villages with his fitness powers is what we really, really love to see.

I fully expect Fraser to win and Olsen to be cool and I wanted to publish this before the day was over so I’d have to be accountable for that prediction.

I’m gonna throw Armin’s recap from yesterday here at the end because it contains everything I’m taking about here and if you don’t watch Armin (but if you’re a Crossfitter, you do) then you should.

Videos I Liked This Week

I’m going to start with this song because I love it and the next two videos are heavy so let’s not dive right into that.

 

This video is moving and inspiring. I think a lot about the word us, and I’ve often said the grammatically terrible phrase I feel like there is an us. And this video is about that.

 

…and Steph. I’m a crier, I cried. You’ll know the moment when you hit it. But I smiled a lot too, especially when Jeff was being a great guy.

I think what Stephanie is doing is heroic, and I’m not using that word lightly. Maybe even right now and certainly in the next few years you’ll be hearing young women saying Steph Buttermore saved my life.

 

And I’m going to leave it there, nothing can follow that.

 

 

 

Cardio Before Or After Weights – Or The Forgotten Third Way…

I wrote about cardio before weights last week and how I think is best however you decide to organize it but I neglected to mention something.

Cardio during weights. Imagine a gif of a mind blowing. I’m not going to look for one.

I was inspired by a Spartan Racer on YouTube (I’m watching a lot of Spartan stuff getting ready for my first one August 10) who said to get ready he started mixing shorter runs throughout his weight training. Genius!

So far I’ve tried it once and it’s awesome. I laid out 10 movements for a full body workout. Did it with light weight, medium weight, did a 5 mile run, then did it with heavy weights.

I figured that a full body work out before a run would help with a lot of form issues and I was right but there’s a risk of breaking down by the end if you went too hard. Also it prevents the first few miles from feeling like such hard work as you get up to speed.

Everyone who runs frequently knows the heart and lungs don’t mind working once they’re working – but they hate getting to work.

Now two things were noticeable about the work out after I got back from the run. One, I sweat more than I’ve ever sweat outside of a sauna. Two, it was not an uphill battle, it didn’t feel more taxing that if I hadn’t run.

Normally when I get home from a run I want to shower and eat – two things that really take me out of work out mode. So having too much of a work out left would probably feel defeating. But really I felt great.

Probably two factors; That my muscles were warmed up by the previous session and then kept warm but not taxed by the run so I was primed to lift heavy, and that this was a massive work out and I felt like a badass and all I had to do was bang out these last 10 movements I’d be champion of the day.

Sometime when I’m at the gym I want to try something like running a mile between each station of a work out. Like, run a mile, bench press, run a mile, squat rack, run a mile, pull ups, run a mile, candy machine, etc.

It’s all about that whole body adaption to stress, what can you really do strength-wise when your cardio is already taxed and vice versa. Because in any real life situation you don’t get to warm up or rest between efforts, life just happens – usually all at once and usually quite messy.

You wanna be ready you gotta leave no doubt.