by Khaled Allen

KhaledRunning

Photograph by Anna Pusack

My workout yesterday was supposed to be break from running. It was a strength set of handstand pushups, single-arm pullup progressions, and deck squats, but I wasn’t feeling much like exercising, much less doing such high intensity gymnastics. I was in one of those moods where you wonder what is the point of all this training and hard work. As someone who has worked as a personal trainer, that is a rare mindset for me, and not one I’m well equipped to handle. The only moderately active thing I felt like doing was a long, slow run. I didn’t want to think of it as training. I just wanted to cover ground, and I ended up covering a lot more than I thought I could.

I headed out of my house for a nice relaxing jog around the block. However, instead of turning around to head home, I decided to just keep going. After another missed turn, I made up my mind to try running two towns over to my girlfriend’s house. I had always wanted to run there, just to see if I could. As a backpacker, I love to look back over a range of mountains that I have just traversed on my own two feet. I love the feeling of freedom that gives me. I have always felt that cars force us to compartmentalize trips; you can only go where the asphalt is, and after a certain distance, the only way to get somewhere is in a vehicle. We tend to forget that there is ground connecting any two places we might want to go, and we are free to get ourselves wherever we might wish.

For most people, the prospect of running to get somewhere is ludicrous. You run to get in shape, to deal with stress, maybe for a race, but if you actually want to go somewhere you just drive. But I have always been fascinated by those who run to go places. History is full of examples of people who had to get somewhere fast and resorted to running. Pheidippides, the soldier who ran 26.2 miles from Marathon to Athens, is probably the most famous example. Granted, he died after the run, but I always attributed that to possible injuries sustained in battle. The fact that he considered it realistic to run 26.2 miles after a battle suggests an entirely different way of thinking about distances and the human ability to cover them than the one we have today. I wanted to see what it was like to just go someplace, regardless of how far away it might be.

While I have never run to my girlfriend’s house, it isn’t a hugely daunting task. It takes me about 20 minutes to drive there on the highway, and I know a route along back roads, so I figured I would just keep moving until I got there. My optimist was tempered by two things: I had no idea how far it was (it could have been 6 miles or 20), and I didn’t give myself any way to back out. I wasn’t carrying a phone or my wallet, so if something went wrong, I couldn’t call for help. The other element that played into my gnawing anxiety was that there really was a point of no return, after which it would be easier to just push on, and I didn’t know where that point was, since I didn’t know how far or how long it would take me. It’s what makes an otherwise tame sport really interesting. Would I last the whole run, or would my knees and ankles give out? This wasn’t just a workout anymore; it was a challenge.

The further I went, the more I started to think I had bitten off more than I could chew. I was wearing my Merrell Trail Gloves, shoes I had never run more than a couple miles in at a time, and I was beginning to notice weird aches and pains in my feet, my shins, and my knees. If I just enjoyed the scenery and didn’t think too much about my form, the pains went away, so I tried to let me legs do their thing.

Things really started to get hairy when I actually did get lost. Trying to take a shortcut I remembered from looking at a map, I missed a turn and found myself at a dead end. Luckily, I ran into a burly guy walking a Chihuahua who helped me out and pointed me in the right direction. Unfazed, I picked up my speed to make up for lost time. When I made it to one of the major cross streets, I felt I had gotten through the hardest part and would be able to finish. Heading down this road, I let my legs stretch out, hoping to pass through quickly, but one thing I learned on this run is distances that seem short in a car may in fact be much longer on foot. This road in particular was straight, which made it go by very quickly in a vehicle. It turned out to be one of the most difficult and grueling parts of my spur-of-the-moment cross-country jog. Some of the hillier, more twisted roads, which seem long and tedious in a car, were a breeze to run through.

While I was out running—endlessly it seemed—I had the opportunity to speculate on the true meaning of cross-country. Normally when we run, we stay on a specific, usually circular, course which starts in one place and ends in the same location. Rarely do we run as a primary mode of transportation. And yet, the meaning of the sport’s name, cross-country running, implies that you are going someplace. The Tarahumara of Born to Run fame ran miles and miles just to get around. They didn’t run to get in shape; they were going somewhere. If they needed supplies from town, they ran there. For the first time in my running career, I was running somewhere, intent on some purpose besides simply finishing a race. Having a destination was empowering and helped me brush off my fatigue. I was going to see my girlfriend! True, it was only a casual visit, but it was still something productive.

Pretty soon, it started to get dark, and I worried that my mom would get home to find the house empty, my car parked outside, and no explanation for my absence. If she did, she would call my girlfriend, who would freak out since she didn’t know I was out running either. This whole outing was starting to seem like less and less of a good idea. The only thing I could do was go faster, but my legs were hurting and my joints were achy. I just kept running. That was all there was to do, after all. A simple, easy thing, which made it actually doable.

It quickly grew too dark for cars to see me, judging by how close they were driving past. Running down narrow, poorly kept roads in the dark of backwoods Connecticut, I was forced to jump off the road and pick my way through rocks and ditches whenever a car drove by. Finally, I turned on to the last street before my girlfriend’s house, leaned into the run, and raced through the last mile.

When I showed up at her door, breathless and sweaty, she took one look at me and knew exactly what I had done. Runners are a bit crazy after all. I called my mom to let her know where I was and it turned out she wasn’t even home yet, so I checked the time. I had started at 5:40pm, and now it was only 6:50pm. I was a shocked at how much ground I was able to cover in just an hour. I even contemplated making this a regular way to see my girlfriend. It was a brief contemplation. Maybe when I’m regularly running ultras.

So how far was it? I ended up running 9 miles, which is a long way for me since I rarely run more than 5 miles at a time. I did run the Philadelphia Marathon once, but I was moving so slowly it seemed more like shuffling. This night, I was really running, in the way Forrest Gump ran when he just took off down the road. When I run just to workout, I find my thoughts don’t always cooperate and I find myself contemplating how much happier I’d be sitting at home playing video games. Last night, though, the fact that I had a destination and a reason to get there before my family started to panic made the run something my mind could get behind. Instead of going through all that pain just for the sake of fitness, I was taking it on to accomplish something tangible.

Maybe running has become stale for you, as it had for me. Maybe your usual courses are starting to bore you. Perhaps the romance of covering ground on your own two feet has faded, because if you’re to be honest, you aren’t really covering ground. You’re just running in large, convoluted circles, going nowhere and getting back where you started. Maybe it’s time to get back to why humans started running in the first place: to get places fast.

by John McEvoy

[Editor’s Note: John McEvoy is a 2011 Death Racer and 2011 Amesbury Spartan Sprint Finisher.  He owns a CrossFit Box CrossFit Craic in Maryland.  He is currently registered for the 2012 Death Race June 15, 2012.]

Are you ready? for a Spartan Race… right now?

315974_10150389170636488_737781487_10570256_910949538_nIn a previous post I did on my website, I talked about General Physical Preparedness or G.P.P and what exactly that means. As a follow on from that, I wanted to talk about preparing for a Spartan Race.

I hear a lot people saying, “Spartan Race sounds badass, I’m going to train for it next year.”

Screen-shot-2011-06-26-at-3.27.04-PM-300x162Next year? Why do you feel like you have to wait until then? Personally, I view G.P.P as ALWAYS being ready. I do not have a ‘season’ and I do not follow a program geared towards anything specific. In short, I am always ready. If the Spartan race was tomorrow I would be psyched. If the Death Race was tomorrow, I would be psyched. Would I like a little more notice? Sure, but I would welcome the challenge tomorrow if the opportunity presented itself. My goal in life is to always be prepared for whatever happens and roll with the punches as they come. There is no program in life. You simply deal with shit as it happens.

296068_10150389170561488_737781487_10570255_2139627314_nI pick heavy stuff up off the ground and put it over my head, I sprint, I carry stuff for distance – ALL THE TIME and I think you should all do the same.

Get your asses out of the office and go put yourself through some self induced hardship.  You’ll be glad you did.

I competed in a CrossFit competition called Beast of the East (www.thebeastoftheeast.com). I registered for this event months ago having no idea what the events will be. On Monday they released 3 of the 6 events. Event 1 will be a 5km run. Event 2 will be a max weighted Turkish get up (click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vE27BjOqA0g to see a tutorial.)

Event 3 will be As many reps as possible in 2 mins of Deadlift @275lbs for men, 185lbs for women.

How do you train for events as broad as the above? You have to do everything.

For those of you are on the fence about doing an upcoming Spartan Race, go and register right now and start training.

Always be ready. 

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by Carrie Adams

Originally posted on my clean eating blog www.keepingitclean.org

With all the cooking I do, I feel like my arms are constantly submerged in a sink full of bubbles or emptying my dishwasher. I also travel CONSTANTLY and it’s not easy to stay on the clean eating wagon in an airport so I have to prepare!  (Paleo enthusiasts don’t fear!  You can substitute quinoa for the oatmeal if you like!)

Driving with a bowl isn’t recommended and many an evening I have taken a crusted bowl out of my car and labored to scrub off the remaining oats off the sides working up a sweat. I also need to toss things in bags and take them with me so I came up with the perfect solution. With a glass of milk, these oatmeal treats, boasting 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per cookie, are as hearty as bowlful and as healthy too! Grab two on your way out the door for delicious, healthy morning breakfast!

Ingredients:
1 ¼ cup Old Fashion Rolled Oats (Paleo alternative is 1 1/4 cup cooked Quinoa)
½ Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (alternative: ½ cup oat pastry powder)
2 TBSP Flaxseed
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. Sea Salt
½ cup Agave Nectar (alternative: honey)
1 egg white
1 TBSP almond butter (alternative 1 TBSP organic peanut butter)
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup chocolate chips (alternative: dried fruit, i.e. raisins, craisins, etc)
2 TBSP Chia Seeds
2 TBSP Hemp Protein Powder
¼ cup Sweet potato Puree
2 scoops whey protein powder (alternative: 2 scoops soy protein powder)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix Oats, flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking soda, chia seeds, hemp protein powder, and sea salt in a large bowl. Combine Agave, egg white, almond butter, vanilla, and sweet potato puree in a medium bowl. Combine the two mixtures. Spoon mixture into 16 or so evenly spaced cookies and flatten slightly with your spoon.
Bake 8 – 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Nutrition Information per cookie: Calories: 117 Carbs: 19 Fat: 2 Protein: 6 Fiber: 3

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by Carrie Adams

168637_1888033484512_1351697261_32224619_4752253_nSpartan Race’s email/database guru and overall rad guy, Jason Jaksetic is heading off this weekend to compete in a Double Ironman in Virginia.  Yes, double Ironman triathlons exist.  As if a single were not enough!  There’s triples and Deca’s but that’s for another day.  One of Spartan’s Founders and Death Race Race Director Andy Weinberg will also be competing. 

Interesting, though, is that this double Ironman triathlon is Jason’s warm up for a triple ironman distance triathlon this December called EpicMan where he will attempt to swim 7.2 miles, bike 336 miles, and run 78.6 miles.  Non stop – before the 60 hour time limit expires on New Years.

Jason has just announced that he will be racing EpicMan in order to benefit the Pittsfield Hurricane Relief Fund for his beloved town of Pittsfield that was so devastated by Hurricane Irene.  You may remember our coverage of Pittsfield on this blog which is also home of Spartan Race and the Death Race.

We wish Jason and Andy luck on their journey this weekend! 

The follow was posted in his blog that can be found at www.JasonJaksetic.com

I am wrapping up my season, and 2011 too, for that matter, with what might be the greatest Triathlon spectacle I’ve heard of since I was first captivated by the Ironman World Championships at the fable location simply termed “Kona”.  The privilege of participating in EpicMan on December 29th, still keeps me up in night in anticipation.

7.2 mile swim, 336 mile bike, and a 78.6 mile run.  Non Stop.  On the island of Oahu.  The cut off time…New Years – 60 hours after the start.  24 competitors to throw down and see who can get it done first.

Getting to the starting line of this event will be in no small part owed to the town of Pittsfield, Vermont where I have lived and trained all of this 2011 season.  And as I exit 2011 and head to 2012 I want to give something back to the town that stood vigil over my runs through the mountains.  The community here is something deeper than I’ve known elsewhere.  And this showed most prominently when Pittsfield was recently struck by Hurricane Irene.

I still pass the collapsed houses and properties on my rides and runs.  I still can’t ride without considerable detours and construction plaguing the trip.  I’ve seen resolve and strength in the people of Vermont that far outshines anything that I’ve encountered.  I am in admiration.

This is why I will be competing in EpicMan to raise money for The Pittsfield Hurricane Relief Fund, www.pittsfieldhurricanerelief.org, in an effort to help this town to which I owe so much.

So as I head into the Double Ironman this weekend in VA and as I ready for Epicman in December I am going to continue to point everyone to: www.pittsfieldhurricanerelief.org.  There was an outpouring of support immediately after the hurricane, but this needs to continue.  Just like an extreme endurance event, focus and persistence are required.  We still have a long way to go to get back to where we were.

This is why I’m dedicating my racing of Epicman to raising money for www.pittsfieldhurricanerelief.org. Please contribute directly on that site or contact me as JasonJ@SpartanRace.com if you can help in any other way.

 

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by Margo the Great

Originally posted in Margo’s “Dirt in Your Skirt”

[Editor’s Note: Margaret Schlachter aka Margo the Great recently placed third at the Spartan Beast and is sharing her pearls of wisdom from her year and a half as an obstacle racer regarding how to prepare for a Spartan Race day.]

Spartan Race 2010, Burlington, VT
The First Spartan Race Ever!

Don’t:
1. Do Not Wear Cotton!
I made this rookie mistake my first obstacle race wearing a pair of cotton capris, cotton undies, and cotton shirt. Repeat do not wear cotton, especially if you are doing an event with water obstacles. It will weigh you down, and not a happy camper. Those cotton capris were rolled up so high by the time I finished that course and I won’t even go there with cotton underwear. I learned my lesson quickly.
2. Do Not Wear White
Know going into a race everything, I mean everything will and does get dirty. Anything white will never be the same again. If you plan on keeping those socks, well they will forever be gray

3. Do Not Race With Your Car Keys, iPod, Sunglasses
Seems simple, you would be surprised how many people I see at their first race have an iPod in or sunglasses, even once saw a dude with his keys clipped to his shorts. Leave any valuable belongings at home. iPod’s will get ruined in water and mud, sunglasses you will most likely loss in an obstacle, and well keys and wallets leave them in the car! Most races now have bag check so you can check all that stuff. I personally like to leave it in the car then to a hide a key

4. Do Not Clock Block
Clock blocking, quoted from www.clockblocking.com -
“What is Clock Blocking?
Clock blocking is when a person either deliberately or inadvertently disrupts another racers flow or stride causing their pace to slip and thus directly hurting another racer’s overall and/or average times for their respective event.”

What this means is if it’s your first race, you might not want to push your way to the front with people who do this all the time. Also if a running in your heat and a later heat competitor is barreling past you or you are barreling past them, PLEASE get out of the way for the faster runner. They may be going for the win, in truth if you are the slower one they will probably between breathes ask you to move. If you are the faster one please say thank you when you pass. I tell each person who moves out of my way thank you!

If you decide to run in a full on costume. Do not line up at the front of the line to start, Guy in the wedding dress you aren’t going for the win, back off. Let the racers who want to PR race!

5. Do Not Run Bandit

Sign up for the race and pay for it like everyone else. It’s really not cool to have someone at an event get a finisher medal when they didn’t sign up to race in the beginning. Support Obstacle Racing and sign-up for the events. Help grow our sport!
DO:
Okay, so we covered all the things you shouldn’t do on race day, lets focus on all the things that can help you achieve your goals.

1. HYDRATE

Depending on how long the race is, depends how far out you start hydrating. for a race like the Spartan Sprint or other 5K distance obstacle race, a day or two before is a great time to hydrate, make sure you are drinking water the day of and maybe a half electrolyte drink (Gatorade)/ half water mix if its hot out. For the Spartan Beast I spent the week walking around with a gallon water bottle, I call my water baby. Best if you leave the beer unopened. 

2. Have a Race Pack

Have a pack of stuff for race day. My pack always includes:

2 – Gallon size plastic bags

1 – Sunscreen

1 – Small Towel

1 – Beach Towel

1 – Travel Size Bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Biodegradable Soap (may sure it’s biodegradable)

1- Shammie

1 – Full Change of Clothes

1- Sweatshirt

1 – Pair of flip flops or extra shoes

Post Race Snacks – I prefer Luna Bars, and Clif Builders Bars, and other Clif Products

1- Gallon of Water

1 – Other Gallon of Water

Now is where you have your sunglasses and wallet. OK, I know that sounds like a lot of stuff, try to get to the venue early so you can just leave it all in the car and get it out after you finish. Plastic bags are for your dirty clothes after you race and your small wet towel. Sunscreen well that should be self evident. The first gallon of water is for if the showers suck at the race you can just go to your car and use the small towel to wash off with the Dr. Bronners. The Shammie will help you dry off and the large Beach towel will help you change in the parking lot. A skill I picked up from surfing. (Underwear first, then pull the clean sports bra over the towel and pull the towel down you are dressed again! Full change of clothes including underwear, I have forgotten the extra change before and been pretty unhappy standing around in muddy undies. Even if it’s 100 degree after a race sometimes your body will feel off from exerting the energy, so bring layers. I like to wear flip flops after a race but you need a second pair of shoes. The last gallon of water drink up after your race. Your free beer will not rehydrate you!

3. Do Wear Trail Running Shoes

Post Spartan Beast 2011

I have raced in many different shoes over the last year and a half, whether you choose Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) (done it) or heavy old trail shoes (done that) make sure you can run in them over varying terrain. I personally wear the company Inov-8 now when I race, they are super light and are made specifically for trail running. I have seen many in VFF’s crumble as they are not use to trails in them. Best if to go out and run some in the mud before a race see how the shoes are. If there is swimming a heavy hiking shoe is not going to be the answer. But I think footwear is extremely personal. Just know they are going to be muddy and dirty when you finish whatever you wear.

4. Bring Nutrition 

For a 5K you will probably not need any nutrition, but anything longer than that it’s a good idea to store a gel pack or gummies in a pocket. All races have water stations and some give you bananas as well but just know you may be in the woods for over a mile or two without any options. If you are worried bring some water with you but for the Spartan Beast (Over 12 miles) I only carried a couple gel packs. If this is your plan take the extra time at aid stations to hydrate before moving on, the seconds you take there will pay dividends when you need the calories later.

5. Learn to Love Spandex

Remember how I said don’t wear cotton, so you might we wondering what do you wear then. Simply I wear as little as possible my race day attire is a sports bra and shorts. This is why, the more clothes you wear the more it will weigh you down when wet and muddy. Not comfortable in just you bra, choice a form fitting tank top in a wicking fabric. Wicking fabrics are as key in cooler races are they are in warmer races, like the Spring climate, they help move moisture away from the body to keep your core temperature up. In the summer it will draw away the sweat from your body. Find wicking underwear as well. I know I keep going back to underwear but its important.

For shorter races (5K) I wear shorts, longer races, I switch to capri’s mostly for chaffing reasons. Learn where your bodies hot spots are so you can lube up before a race. A cheap lube that works great is baby diaper rash cream A&D. Also my personal color of choice for clothing is black, it shows no mud or blood you may have incurred along the course.

When you get home dry the clothes out first, shake off excess mud then wash them. It saves you having to wash them a second time when they aren’t clean at first!

Final Thoughts…

These races are not your average 5k, 10 mile or even half marathon. If it’s your first race throw out all ideas of what a 5k time should look like. Some races might take under 30 minutes others might take an hour for the same distance. The terrain in these races can be gnarly and unforgiving, you maybe running up a mountain or in a state park depending on your geographic location, each race venue is different. Obstacles are meant to slow you down, they will, it’s OK. You will get better at them the more races you do. Use your instincts on them, if an obstacle is intimidating take a deep breathe then try it again. It took me 3 times to get over one of the walls at the Spartan Beast and I still finished the race well.

Go into race day with a clear mind and ready to expect the unexpected. Most importantly run YOUR OWN RACE, results in the end don’t matter as long as you know you pushed hard. Don’t get caught up in what all the crazy people are doing around you before a race. Just because the guy next to you decided to do 100 burpees before the race doesn’t make him any faster than you. Or conversely the guy who shotguns a beer with his buddies to show how cool he is on his gopro video. Let him try to prove he is a badass. Have a plan and stick with it. I run a lot of races where the testosterone is so high at the start my ovaries hurt.

My warm-up varies race to race. For a short race it might take me 45 minutes to warm-up for a 5K, where as the Spartan Beast (12+ miles), I just walked up to the line and relaxed into what would be just under a 4 hour race for me.

Overall, have a great time, meet new people who share your interest in this amazing sport. If you are lucky enough to have a group to race with cheer each other on. If it’s your goal maybe you bring home a cool sword at the end of the day! But overall, its about you and finding out a little bit more about yourself and you will have some bruises and cuts to show off at work on Monday!

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by Carrie Adams

At Thermopylae on the final morning, when the last surviving Spartans knew they were all going to die, they turned to the warrior Dienekes and asked what they should hold in their minds to keep their courage strong. He instructed his comrades: “Fight for this alone: the man who stands at your shoulder. He is everything, and everything is contained within him.”

The soldier’s prayer today on the eve of battle remains, “Lord, let me not prove unworthy of my brothers.” (from the Warrior Ethos)

Staten Island Super Spartan 2012Spartan Race pits athletes against the clock in an obstacle course filled with unknown challenges, rugged trails, and unforgiving terrain.  Athletes like Hobie Call come out on race day to take home the top spot, but not all athletes come to race.  Many, in fact, don’t even come alone.  They come with friends, family, and co-workers and race together in teams. 

At our recent event in Staten Island, a group of former Biggest Loser competitorsStaten Island Super Spartan 2012 including Season 10’s second place finisher Frado Dinten came out to race on “Team Frado”  with those they’ve inspired with their weight loss journey and they crossed the finish line together, an accomplishment best experienced as a group. 

Competitive and non-competitive alike, these teams encourage motivate and support each other before, during and after the race.  They train together, set goals and overcome the obstacles shoulder to shoulder.  Sometimes being a teammate is helping your fellow racer over the wall and sometimes it’s helping them believe that they can do it themselves. 

Staten Island Super Spartan 2012Registering as a team has other benefits… you save money and your team can earn donations to Homes for Troops as well.  You can become part of a team to help yourself and others get through the event, save money, and support our troops.

How does it work?

Register as a team and add members! The more people you can get to join your team, the more money you will get back in your pocket! We will give you a percentage off of your registration fees. So you will be rewarded, before you even finish the race.

Spartan Race - team with US flagHow many people are needed to make a team?

Teams are unlimited in how BIG they can get but there is a minimum of four people! Team members are timed individually and are not required to cross the finish line together.

Which team takes home the prizes?

The fastest 4 times of the team will be used to calculate the team’s finishing time. Prizes will be awarded to the team who finishes on top!

Ready to Register? 

Registering for a team is easy, whether it’s new or you need to join one that’s already signed up!  From our Registration site, you can start a team, join an existing team, and manage teams once they’ve been set up!

Finding the finish line may be the goal for everyone who heads out to a Spartan Race but no one ever said you had to do it alone. 

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