Get the lowdown on basic punches, gear, and shadowboxing.Read article
Yes, I am a fitness enthusiast but that doesn’t mean I’ve been endurance training my whole life. In fact, I’ve been weightlifting for nearly seven years and still haven’t tested my long distance running speed or endurance. After registering for the 2014 Citi Field Spartan Race, my first obstacle course race ever, I was concerned about the three-mile distance. My past high school and collegiate football training made me confident in the “stop and go” nature of the obstacles and I knew I could jog three miles on a treadmill. However, I thought the combination of obstacles and distance might get me gassed.
In the Spartan Race, participants are given a chip timer to wear on their wrist and if you don’t complete an obstacle you must do 30 burpees (counted based on the honor system.) By the time race day came around, I was five weeks into UFC FIT, a full body workout program featuring diet guru Mike Dolce as head coach. While there are some exercises performed with light dumbbells, I hadn’t done any resistance training in about six weeks. I decided to load up on calories the week leading up to the race, eating pasta and pizza, since I had lost more than six pounds in five weeks and thought I needed the extra fuel as “insurance.” Thank you to Reebok for providing me with the new All-Terrain series Super sneakers (Shoes Tarzan would’ve worn to get around the forest) along with uber-functional shirts and shorts.
I did a few pullups a couple of days before the big day to work on my grip strength because I knew that would be an issue…and it was. I failed three obstacles: the spear throw, wall traverse and rope climb. The wall traverse called for you to climb across a wall on small pegs without touching the top of the wall and I didn’t get very far on this. The rope climb is one of the many things that make me want to go back for more. After climbing a 20-foot high rope, (without a harness) you were to hit a cowbell to ring it. Well, I climbed up near to the top of the rope and repeatedly tried swatting at the bell but was just out of reach. My muscles just gave out and I slid back down the rope in fear of falling. I reflected on just how close while I suffered though the burpees.
The wall jumps, water jug carries, and the rest of the obstacles were very fun and I completed them explosively. I finished the race in 52 minutes and 59 seconds, which was 846 out of 6916 in the Open Heat, placing me in the top 12%. When crossing the finish line, I had plenty of fuel left in the tank and I wanted to keep running. With that said, the form on some of my burpees after the rope climb left much to be desired. Knowing that the possibility of a better time exists makes me want to take another crack at it.
Obstacle course racing (OCR) is a competitive sport with cash prizes, sponsorships and elite athletes leading the charge to expand its global recognition. The rising popularity of OCR is fascinating to me because the top athletes in this sport, such as the number one ranked Spartan Racer Hunter McIntyre, are incredibly strong and fast. The Spartan Race has courses that are longer than three miles but I feel I would want to do at least one more Sprint, this time a hilly one, before I attempt a Super, which is 6+ miles.
My favorite aspect of the race was that when you’re out there it’s you vs. you. There are no excuses for not crossing the finish line. My advice to someone who is considering running their first 3-mile course would be to give it your all at every point because you will regret a lackluster effort at the end. In addition, try to avoid burpees at all costs. The few seconds it may take to focus on completing obstacles is worth the minutes it will take to do 30 burpees. Plus, the satisfaction of conquering an obstacle is just plain awesome. Overall, OCR is great way to burn fat, improve aerobic capacity, test your limits and have fun like never before. AROO!