Muscular Analysis of The Burpee

by Jeff Godin, PH.D., CSCS

Phase 1:  Squat Position

From standing position to squat position.

Squat down so the hands are flat on the ground. The knees and hips are flexing and the ankle is moving into dorsi flexion.  The spine is also flexing to a minor degree. This movement requires the eccentric contraction of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and the gluteus maximus. The muscles of the back are working to prevent excessive flexion of the spine. Think about holding the chest high. Eccentric means that the muscles are contracting and lengthening at the same time. The muscles are producing force to control the rate of descent against the effects of gravity.


Phase 2:  Push-up Position

From Squat position with the hands on the ground, to the start of the push-up position.

-        From the squat position, using the arms to support the upper body, the legs are thrust back until the body is elongated into the start of the push-up position.

-        This movement requires concentric contraction of the quadriceps to extend the knee, and concentric contraction of the hamstrings and gluteus maximus to extend the hip.

-        The pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and rotator cuff are contracting isometrically to stabilize the shoulder and the triceps brachii are contracting isometrically to stabilize the elbow. Isometric is a term to describe a muscular contraction without movement. In this case, the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and triceps brachii are producing just enough force to oppose the effects of gravity and prevent the chest from crashing to the ground.

-        Muscles of the scapula, including the trapezius, rhomboids, serratus anterior, and the pectoralis minor, are contracting isometrically to stabilize the scapula. These muscles are co-contracting creating a stabilizing effect on the scapula so the muscles of the rotator cuff have a stable platform to act upon.

-        Muscles of the trunk are contracting isometrically to stabilize the core and prevent unwanted movement in the spine. Muscles that extend and flex the spine are co-contracting to stabilize the spine. If you notice the back sagging or an exaggerated arch in the back this is indicative of a weakness in the abdominal muscles. Practice the Plank exercise to strengthen this region.


Phase Three: The Push-up

One push-up is completed.

-        The chest is lowered to the ground in a controlled fashion. It should be fast but under control. The pectoralis major and anterior deltoid muscles contract eccentrically allowing the shoulders to horizontally abduct. The triceps brachii contracts eccentrically to allow the elbow flex.

-        The torso should be rigid throughout the movement; the muscles of the trunk continue to act as stabilizers.

-        In the down position, the pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, and triceps brachii contract concentrically causing shoulder horizontal adduction and elbow extension respectively, returning to the body back to the up position.


Phase Four:  Return to Squat Position

From the top of the push-up position to the squat position

-        This is an explosive movement where the athlete springs back to the squat position.

-        The gastrocnemius, contracts forcefully causing plantar flexion, lifting the feet from the ground so that the knees and hips can be rapidly flexed and the body is returned to the squat position.

-        Flexion of the hips is caused by a concentric contraction of the iliopsoas and rectus femoris muscles and flexion of the knee is caused by concentric contraction of the hamstring muscles.

Phase Five: Jump

From the squat position the athlete jumps as high as possible.

-        Jumping is the product of a forceful concentric contraction of the gastrocnemius muscle at the ankle, the quadriceps at the knee, and gluteus maximus and hamstrings at the hip, causing plantar flexion, and knee and hip extension respectively.

-        Prior to the jump the back should be rigid and this stabilization is provided by the back extensors.



by Pat Guyette, Spartan HQ Staff

Since mid-2011, Spartan Race’s main military partner has been the Air National Guard.

A countless number of our obstacle racers are military veterans and thousands of them are Airmen.  We could not be more proud to align our brand with such a courageous group of Americans!

If you are a Spartan Race finisher, chances are you have been face-to-face with ANG’s logo, as you were attempting to successfully complete the traverse wall obstacle.  Some of you, whether racing or spectating, have competed in the Air National Guard Pull-Up Challenge – the most popular festival challenge at our events.  All of you, have undoubtedly said “thank you” in one way or another to our military for keeping us safe.

If you’ve enjoyed the challenges a Spartan Race course offers, you might be surprised to find out that most of these challenges correlate to and help prepare you for real life situations. None of these challenges are more real or more humbling, than what Darrin Kesler encountered in his most recent deployment in Afghanistan.

The following is the transcript of an interview I had with SrA (Senior Airman) Darrin Kesler, who is a TACP recruiter based in Peoria, IL.

PG: I’d like to start off by saying thank you for serving. A huge percentage of our athletes are veterans and we have a great appreciation for our armed forces.


DK: No problem. My pleasure.

PG: Great. So, where are you based out of?

DK: Peoria, IL Air National Guard Unit.

PG: Is that where you grew up?


DK: Yes I grew up right here.

PG: I’m interested to know, at what point in your lifetime… what was the defining moment where you said to yourself  ”I want to join the military”…


DK: I was working as a welder for Caterpillar. I had already went to college and done that. Working at Caterpillar became really monotonous and I missed the team-like atmosphere that you have in school and playing football your whole life, and so I just decided one day that I needed a challenge, and went to a local recruiter and he said  TACP would be the thing for me.

PG: What is a TACP?


DK: A TACP stands for Tactical Air Control Party. They facilitate the use of airpower through the Air Force and Army. They are going to be the liaison between the Air Force and Army to direct air power; whether it is for calling in an airstrike, or for recon purposes, or surveillance purposes, anything like that. Anything with a plane in the sky we are going to direct the ground commander how to use that power.

PG: Spartans train really hard to get ready for their race as does the military to get ready for war. What are the fitness requirements to become a TACP?


DK: Right, yes. We have our own minimum standard to get into the career field and that’s called the PAST test, physical agility and stamina test. Things that are required are a mile and a half run in 10 minutes and 47 seconds, 40 pushups in two minutes, 48 sit ups in two minutes, and then there’s a 6 pull up minimum you have to meet, palms facing out, no kipping or anything like that. And then there’s a ruck march. If you aren’t familiar with rucking it’s essentially putting a book bag on your back with about 50 pounds and walking a 15 minute mile pace for about 4 miles.

PG: I don’t know if you are aware, but the Air National Guard is our Pull Up Challenge partner in every festival.  It’s the same rules, palms facing out, no kipping. That challenge is to see how many pull-ups you can do in one minute, so my question to you is how many pull-ups can you do in one minute?

DK: I can probably do about 20. 20 correct pull ups, if I cheat I little bit I could get about 30 or so, but 20 good ones.

PG: In the Air National Guard you can work part time and work other jobs while stationed domestically right? So what are Air Guardsmen’s main duties while stationed domestically?

DK: We have tons of career fields. So from working on an aircraft turning wrenches, or you want to fly on an aircraft, those opportunities are available. Or if you want to be a policeman or a firefighter, we have those opportunities available also. Maybe you want to work behind a desk and do you know logistics, intelligence, course readiness, personnel, we have all those kind of jobs also. So in any direction you are going in the outside world we will have something that correlates. Maybe not exactly, but something that’s going to be interesting for you to do for 2 days a month.

PG: So a really wide scope of jobs.


DK: Right, yes.

PG: So is it pretty safe to say that whatever their job is now they could find a similar position in the Air Guard?

DK: Something similar, yes. Like if you are out working in fashion design or something we probably we won’t have something for you there.

PG: Yeah, you guys buy all your clothes from one supplier right?

DK: Yup, it’s already pre-determined, so…

PG: Now, you recently got back from a deployment?

DK: Yeah, I got back in April 2011.

PG: Where were you deployed?

DK: I was in eastern Afghanistan.

PG: Obviously war is very real and it’s an integral part to protecting the rights and freedoms of the civilians of our great nation. During your deployment, when did the reality of war first really hit you?

DK: Pretty much as soon as we got there. We had to go to what’s called a COP, a combat outpost. We had to take helicopters, that was the only way to get there. So upon arriving they said “Hey there’s a mission going on here, and we are pretty much dropping you guys off and we don’t know if it’s going to be a hot LV or not.” And of course coming there for the first time, you really only know what you see in the movies, and it’s definitely different than that. When you are initially landing in the enemy zone there, it really gets real for you for a minute there.

PG: And what were your interactions with the locals like while you were deployed?

DK: Yeah we would talk to the locals. That wasn’t my main specific duty, but while out on patrols I always enjoyed talking with the kids, helping them out, and giving them stuff, and just seeing what they had to say. They were always asking questions. They were pretty smart, you know, I remember talking to one specific kid, and they don’t really keep track of age in years over there, but he would be like what we could call 7 or 8. And he was doing college level algebra, in his head, because he didn’t have a pen or paper. So one of the most wanted items there is a pen. Every kid wants a pen because a pen is a sign of wealth. So all the kids are wanting “Pen, pen, pen, pen”. Pen or chocolate. So they’re always asking for “a pen or a chocolate”.

PG: So did you always keep pens with you?

DK: Oh yeah. And you would get swarmed. Once you gave out one pen or one chocolate you’d get literally swarmed by kids. Once one kid comes out thirty kids come out. It was a good time, we had some fun.

PG: Awesome, so I see some similarities in that story to Spartan Race. Spartan Race is all about creating friendships and utilizing teamwork by helping out others on the course that you may not know, when they are in need. Can you tell me about your experience in Basic Training and where you see the similarities with running a Spartan race in terms of teamwork and bonding while going through a challenging experience?

DK: Sure yeah. I guess an example that correlates pretty much hand in hand is the obstacle course in basic training. Having the background that I have, I’m fairly athletic and like to think that I’m in shape and can do all of this stuff. So I’m starting out on the course and passing people and I’m running and doing my own thing. Come to find out there’s parts on the course where you need assistance. You know what I mean? You know you can’t climb this wall or you can’t do that all by yourself. So I learned real quick that this is a team exercise as opposed to an individual exercise. So, it seems like exactly how Spartan Race is. I was watching videos yesterday, and I remember the wall. People covered in mud and trying to get up that wall and they can’t get over by themselves, so whoevers on the other side has to lend you a hand to help them over. It’s the same thing.

PG: Spartan Racers have to overcome 20-30 obstacles on the course. What was the biggest physical obstacle you had to overcome in the battlefield?

DK: The hardest thing that we did was, we had a mission where we had to climb this mountain that was supposed to take two hours and ended up taking nine and a half hours. We were supposed to be up there for only 2 days, which of course got extended. So we didn’t really have water for one and a half to two days. So that was one of the harder things, you know, ten of us sharing and combining resources, to save enough energy for the trip back down in the coming days.

PG: At Spartan Race courses we have aid stations, and it never fails, every time we always have suggestions that there needs to be more aid stations out there. More water, more food for energy. It kind of prepares them for the real life experiences like you were thrown into, where you just have to kinda, dig deep.

DK: Dig deep, and push it through.

PG: Are you excited to run the Midwest Spartan Race with your fellow airmen October?

DK: I am. I didn’t get to do it last year so I’m excited to do it.

PG: Last year it was 3 mile sprint, and this year it’s a super, so its 8 miles. Should be a great challenge for you guys. Do you know we are notorious for a 400ft plus barbed wire crawl, sometimes up steep hills. Are you ready for that?

DK: I didn’t know that, but I’m up for the challenge.

PG: Obviously you missed your family and friends while deployed, but what is one small thing you have while home that you may have taken for granted and missed while away?

DK: Shower.

PG: Hot shower?

DK: No, just a shower at all. Like a working shower. Not pouring Dasani bottles over my head or a baby wipe shower, you know?

PG: Do you have any kids?

DK: I do, and I’m surprised you can’t hear her crying. Yeah I have one, she’s 5 months

PG: So she’s a little too young for our Jr. Spartan…

DK: Yeah a little bit but she’ll be doing it for sure. She’s a motivated one. She’s in her bouncy seat right now trying to jump as high as can be.

PG: What’s her name?

DK: Mallory.

PG: And she’s 5 months, so we’ll be on the lookout in about 4 years for Mallory’s name on the leaderboards for the kids event.

DK: You got that right.

PG: So I just have a couple of more questions, I don’t want to keep you all day. What would you like to say to Spartan Racers who are on the fence about joining the military, and why the Air National Guard is a great choice to consider?

DK: Well, for the most part, Spartan Race is a great challenge for one day or a weekend. They get to challenge themselves, and enjoy challenging themselves, for however long it takes them to navigate through the course. Then it’s over. The Air National Guard will challenge you every single day.

PG: The Mid-west Spartan Race is an 8 mile course, with 25 or more obstacles. Any predictions on what your finishing time will be?

DK: Oh I don’t know. What’s a good time? I know that one guy that does all of them and wins them all, he’s pretty much a beast. What is a good time for him?

PG: Hobie Call, yeah, he’s an animal. Each course is different but he usually finishes supers in 40-60 minutes, a good 5 to 10 minutes faster than his closest competitor.

DK: Well it may be a stretch, but I’ll set my sights on that range. I have a feeling though, that I’ll be stopping to help out others on the course, so that may slow me down a little bit.

PG: Thank you very much for your time, and again, for helping to defend our nation.

DK: My pleasure, and I’ll see you in Illinois in October.

If you’d like to find out more about what the Air National Guard has to offer, check out, or call 1000-To-Go ANG to talk to a local recruiter today.


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The Chris Davis Project:  Week 13

This week – Chris came back from Atlanta and we find out if he gained weight as he hikes Killington Mountain, home of the Ultra Beast.

READ Chris’s other blogs:

Chris Davis started out at almost 700lbs. He’s lost over 300lbs so far. Follow his Spartan journey as he attempts to get below 200lbs and complete the Spartan Ultra Beast in September.


I arrived at Burlington Airport a little after 12:30 am on Saturday morning, where I was met by my good friend Tara.   It was so good to see her again as it has been several weeks since I had last seen her because she had been out of town before I left for Atlanta.  I cannot tell you how much it meant to me to have a good friend pick me up after leaving so many friends behind in Atlanta.   We headed out from the airport for our 1 ½ hour drive to Pittsfield and I had flashbacks to a few months ago when I arrived for the first time.  By the time we got home I was so exhausted I could no longer see straight.   So I went straight to bed and it did not take long for me to fall asleep.

The next thing I know I find myself waking up to Joe saying “Chris lets go…”   I grab my phone, and its 4am.  So I stagger out of bed and head out the door.   When I get to the car I ask where are we going and that is when Joe drops the second bomb of the morning on me.  We are climbing up Killington Mountain today.   All I can think is great, I have had less than two hours of sleep, and now we’re climbing Killington… Welcome Back Chris!  So down the road with Joe Desena, Jason Jaksetic, Steve Halstead, and I head!

We stop and pull over at the KMS school about 2 miles from the from the resort entrance.  So off we headed in the dark.    It is funny how you can walk down an the center of the road at this time of the morning and no one even cares.   By the time we got to the entrance to the mountain I was exhausted and slightly delirious from the lack of sleep- but I kept walking.  Around 6:30 am we arrived at Skye Peak and I was so happy because we had made it!   That is when Joe dropped bomb number 3 on me for the day!  We look at the map and tried to figure out how to get to Killington Peak.  So being the only one that could read a map in the group, we head off around the peak and head down a bike trail to Killington Peak.

By the time we started to head towards Killington Peak my brain had basically shutdown and I was nothing more than a walking zombie.   It took us another hour or so to reach the peak.  It was an incredible view,  Killington Peak is one of the tallest mountains in the area and you can see forever from there.   After I took a few minutes to regroup we headed back down.   We broke up into two group, Steve and I in one group everyone else in the other group.  We followed the access road down, because my legs were starting to give me a lot of problems.  My knees were buckling, and my hips were so sore I was having a problem standing.

As we walked down, I went from zombie more to survival mode, and everything just started to shutdown.  All I could do is focus on putting one foot in front of another.  That works on flat trails really well but anyone that has been on Killington Mountain knows those are few and far between.   I keep finding myself tripping over rocks and rolling my ankles time after time.  About half way down I hit a patch of loose rocks and down I went.  Unlike the last time I fell before the Death Race, I went down hard, using my elbow to take the impact of the fall.   I ended up with scrapes and cuts, and that was it.   I am so lucky that it was not any worse than that.

After my little fall I got a second boost of energy and we continued down the mountain.   As we got closer to the K1 lodge, I could not help but think “Are we there yet?” and every time I would think that a little voice in my head would say “NO”.  So we keep walking, and walking, and walking  finally we made it down.

I cannot tell you how happy I was to be off the mountain;  Now all I had to do was make it back to the car.  As it would turn out we were so slow coming down the mountain that Joe had send someone to pick us up instead of waiting for us.  By the time our ride arrived I had walked over 9.6 miles and had reached 2 peaks at the Killington Ski Resort.   Not too bad for having less than 2 hours of sleep.

On Sunday morning Joe wanted us to go back to the peak of Killington Mountain again, so once again at 4:30 am we headed out.  But this time instead of parking 2 miles out he had us park at Pizza Jerks, a little restaurant about a mile down the Access Road from where we parked the day before.

The plan was to skip Skye Peak and head straight up Killington Peak.   There was one big problem- my body had not recovered from yesterday.  I was only able to make it up about ⅓ of the way before my body started to completely shutdown, and this time I said enough.   I told Joe that I was done and headed back to the car.  He and the rest of the group continued up the mountain and I headed back alone.  This was a very long walk back to the car because I knew that I had failed to make it to the peak and that really bothered me.  But I knew it was the right decision at the time because I was only waiting at the car for about 15 minutes before Joe and Chris Zhu showed up.

But in true Joe style, he did not let me get in the car, but he wanted me to continue down the Access Road while Chris took the rest of the group back to the other car.  By the time Chris showed back up we had finished walking down the Access Road.  So I may not have made it up the mountain, but I did make it to the end of the Access Road, giving me over 9.6 miles for the second day in a row.

On Thursday, once again we got up at 4am and headed back to Killington Mountain.  This time with Jessica Pineault and Marion Abrams, “The film crew” from Mad Motion joined us for the hike.   This time it all went a lot better.  I was still fighting some hip and knee soreness from my other walks in the week, but I was able to work through it.   This time it took us about one hour and 45 minutes to reach the K1 lodge, and we did not stop at the ski lift either, we continued up all the way to the actual peak where the ranger station is located.

This was a really cool addition to the hike. After doing our interviews, we headed down the mountain.   I find that I tend to hurt myself more walking down more than walking up mountains, because once again, I took a tumble coming down the mountain.  I am just grateful that I did not end up hurting myself other than rolling my ankle a little.  I was so happy when we arrived back in the parking lot because I had completed my second trip to the top of Killington Mountain in under one week!    That is a truly wonder feeling!


Master WOD Archive 7.16.12 to 7.22.12

by Jason Jaksetic


WOD for 7.16.12

Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result.
-  Oscar Wilde

30 burpees
30 bicycle kicks
30 push-ups
30 jumping lunges
30 tuck jumps
10 pull-ups
30-50 crunches


WOD for 7.17.12 brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition

The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.
- Elbert Hubbard

CLICK HERE to view tomorrow’s WOD by James Villepigue CSCS & Hobie Call and brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition.



WOD for 7.18.12

An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.
– Mae West

Mile Repeats

Warm-up:  Run 15 minutes, gradually ramping up intensity.  Put in a few 30 second accelerations to a speed faster than race pace.

Main Set:  Plan on running 2-5 one-mile repeats.  Start the first one at your 5k pace, but decide for yourself that you will get faster with each repeat.  You should finish well above a 5k pace on the final interval.

If you normally do a 8 minute mile pace over a 5k time trial, your mile splits for this WOD might look something like 8.00, 7.40, and 7.15.  Dig deep on the last one.  You just might surprise yourself.  You are teaching your body how to respond to a new kinds of stresses.  This is what makes you grow as a runner – experience!

Cool down:  Jog to help get some of the lactic acid out of your legs and then stretch.

What is lactic acid?  Here is some additional info on our blog.


WOD for 7.19.12

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
- Jack London

1 mile run, 100 lunges.
1 mile run, 100 squats.
1 mile run, 100 lunges.

Subscribe to our Workout of the Day (WOD):


WOD for 7.20.12

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
- Jack London

1 mile run, 100 lunges
1 mile run, 100 squats
1 mile run, 100 lunges


WOD for Saturday, 7.21.12

The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.
- Vince Lombardi

Long Run with Burpees

Make tomorrow’s run the longest of your week. Bring your upper body into the equation by performing 10 burpees upon the completion of each mile. Finish the run strong by doing a set of 30 burpees and then 30 crunches.


WOD for Sunday, 7.22.12

Action is the foundational key to all success.
- Pablo Picasso

Take advantage of weekends to squeeze in extra workouts. There are no rules that limit you to one workout a day. So, tomorrow shoot for two training sessions.

As you advance in your fitness you might find that one workout a day is not enough to meet your goals. This might be familiar territory to many of you, but for our newer athletes, this can offer quite a challenge. Tomorrow schedule a morning workout and an afternoon or evening session as well, and commit to doing them both.

The first workout should mix both aerobic and strength elements and be the more intense of the two. The second workout should be aerobic and can be a recovery workout if you are hurting.

WOD 1: Run 4-10 miles, 50 burpees, 50 lunges, 15 pull ups
WOD 2: Run 3-5 miles or cross-train (1 hour swim, bike, etc)

Be sure to stretch well after each workout.


by Katie Idle, Western Canada Spartan

Jake Zimmerli conquers the Beast – TWICE – and is on his way to earning TWO Trifectas in 2012!

Twenty-four-year-old Jake Zimmerli from Utah is definitely up for a challenge, and totally addicted to Spartan Races.  Having completed not one – but TWO – Beasts back-to-back in Utah last week, Jake is signing up for the Super Spartan in Squamish on September 22nd.  His aim – to run two Supers to qualify for two Trifectas in the same year.    His ultimate goal?  The DEATH RACE!

During the day, you can find Jake managing a Pediatric Endocrine Clinic in Utah, in the evenings and on the weekends he’s snowboarding, wakeboarding, and now travelling around North America to take part in Spartan Races.  His list of achievements this year include the Colorado Military Sprint (twice), the Vancouver Sprint, the Utah Beast (twice), the Dirty Dash (10km race), and RAGNAR, a 192-mile relay race.  “I started doing Spartan races because of a buddy, and RAGNAR because a friend at work knew I was doing the Spartan, thought I was a runner, and invited me to do the 48 hour relay”, laughs Jake.

Jake and a buddy put together a team of 38 people, under the team name of the ‘RUFUSES’, which placed 3rd overall in the team category for The Beast.  Pretty amazing considering they are not runners!  “Our goal is put the ‘RUFUSES’ on the podium in every race that we compete in, and to gain recognition within the Spartan community”, he adds.  Jake had friends in both the 8am and the 2.30pm heats, so he signed up for both – but then they switched the 2.30pm heat to 12.30pm and made it even tougher!  Aroo!!

One of the factors driving Jake is the memory of his young friend, Josh, who tragically died of cancer at the tender age of thirteen.  Josh was diagnosed with osteo-sarcoma, or bone cancer, at only eight years old, at which time he had to have his leg amputated and went into heart failure.  However, after a long battle, Josh enjoyed a two year cancer-free remission.  Unfortunately the cancer came back last year, and less than a month ago he passed away.  “Before the Beast, our team – the Rufuses – had bracelets made up with the running ‘Rufus’ logo on them and the last time I saw Josh before he passed away, I gave him one.  We ran that race for him”, adds Jake.

“My goal is to do the Death Race with a few buddies in Josh’s memory and have all my friends, family and contacts donate $1 for every mile that we run, and maybe $10 extra if we complete.  We plan to donate all the money to Primary Children’s hospital in Utah, the hospital that josh and our family spent so many years in and out of. “

“In the meantime, I’m excited to get back to Canada for the Squamish Super, and for the last qualification for the Trifecta”, says Jake.  Jake intends to run with his cousin, who ran the Vancouver race with him in May, and has now caught the ‘spartan bug’ – he can’t wait to step it up to the next level and get a Super under his belt.


What’s next?  Calgary offers another chance to for a Spartan Sprint … but space is filling up fast.  Or … why not push it up a notch and sign up for the Super Spartan in Squamish on September 22nd. Click HERE to register.

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The Chris Davis Project:  Week 12


After a week of walking up and down Joe’s mountain, I packed for my trip back home to Atlanta.  Joe had set a goal of getting down to 295 before I left, and had threatened to cancel the trip if I did not meet this goal, so I was relieved on Saturday when I weighed myself and I had made it to 294.4.  So I knew I was good.  It only took me walking 50+ miles in 6 days to get me there-  but I made it.

Knowing that I had made my weight allowed me to relax and enjoy my Sunday morning walk up and down the mountain.  I was so exhausted from the  previous days, but I knew this was the last time I would have to climb up this mountain for at least the next week.   After completing the 3rd lap I headed up the driveway and tossed Wilson on the patio and said, “Well buddy, take the next week off and relax.”  And I just started to laugh.  After realizing, that yes, I was talking to my sand bag.  I shook my head and headed inside.

It had taken me several hours to do my walking and it was already mid afternoon. I thought to myself that my fight was scheduled to leave at 5:45 am Monday morning, so that meant that I would need to be picked up around 2 am, because it takes over an hour and a half to get to the airport. So I confirmed with my ride that he would pick me up at 2am, and that meant I could take my time to pack, and once I was done packing I could take a nap. Well that was my plan and it sounded great.  Unfortunately life doesn’t always work that way.  By the time I was with everything and had my bags packed, it was a little after 10pm.  No problem, that still gave me 4 hours to nap.  As I started to lay down, I got a text message from my ride.  He wanted to pick me up at 12 midnight because he could not sleep. I laughed a little, and said no problem, that would just give us some extra time in case something went wrong on the trip.   So I got back up and put the finishing touches on my bags, and set them by the door, and then the waiting game started.   I could not believe how excited I was to get to go back home.   It was going to be great because only a couple of key people even knew I was going to be coming back home.  So it was going to be a surprise for everyone when I just showed up at events.   I could not wait to see their reactions.   But for now all I could do was pace around the basement waiting for my ride.  These were some of the longest hours I have experienced in awhile.

Just when I was about to lose my mind, I saw some headlights coming up the driveway.  It was my ride to the airport.   I grabbed my bags and almost ran to the car tripping down the stairs.  All that I could think was relax, do not hurt yourself this close go home, that is the last thing I need right now.  So I took a deep breath and continued to the car.  Around 2 am we arrived at the airport, and its funny arriving at the airport that time of morning.  It is like a ghost town outside, but the funny thing is there were still several taxi cab drivers waiting for people.   I don’t know why, but I felt that was a little creepy.  I mean, I could understand one or two, but there was over a dozen just waiting.  It’s not like there was any additional fights still waiting to arrive.

I headed inside, and everything was closed, and I mean everything, even the automated ticket booths, so I decided to walk around for a bit and found a really cool observation lounge that looked over the runways.  I just wished it had been daytime, so I could have sat back and watched the planes, but not tonight.  It was just me and the runway lights.  Well, that only lasted about 5 minutes, and then they turned off the lights too, so it was just me.  So I took this as a sign that I should try and fall asleep.  But there was no way I was going to fall asleep.  I tried but I was just too excited.  So I pulled my laptop out of my bag, and started up Netflix to watch a few episodes of Firefly. This is just what I need to relax, and started to fall asleep.

Before I knew it my alarm clock went off, and I woke up, grabbed my laptop, and headed back down to the ticket counter.   Still everything was shut down, but at least this time there were some people waiting and you could feel that the building was starting to come back alive.  It was only a few minutes that went by before a ticket agent walked in and turned on the automated ticket terminals.  After getting my ticket I headed up to go to the gate but the TSA had not yet arrived yet, so more waiting.  All I could think was all of the suggestions to get to the airport 2 hours before my flight, and here I was an hour and a half before my flight, and TSA was not open yet.  Isn’t that ironic.   Once they did open, they were already in a bad mood.  It was at that moment I realized it was a bad idea to wear the same pants that I had worn down here.  To me it made sense, the only problem is there about 14 sizes too big now.  I figured no big deal, I would just hold my pants up when I went through the metal detector.  Well, that is not the way this airport was set up.  They were using one of the newer scanners that you stand in put your arms above your head and it scans you.   So you can imagine how this went.  They felt bad for me so they gave me my belt back, and let me do the scan again.   But because it failed the test, I got a full pat down.  That is always fun.

Once it was time to board the plane, I started to get nervous.  Would I be able to get my seat belt to close without a seatbelt extender?  I had vowed that my flight up to Vermont was going to be the last time I ever have to ask for one, and I was determined to make it work.  And sure enough, I sat down grabbed the seat belt, and click, it fit!  It was tight but it didn’t matter.   I was in a small computer plane with small seats and I did not have to get an extender.   I was so happy I could not stop smiling.

After a layover at Newark International Airport, I arrived in Atlanta about 20 minutes early.   I was so relieved to get back to town, I could feel the energy of the city as soon as the door on the plane opened.  I jumped out of my seat and wanted to run down the aisle but since I was in the back of the plane I had to sit back and wait.  It seemed to take forever, but finally it was my turn to get off the plane, and I headed down the jetway and into the airport.   I had a long walk to get to the tram to take me to the main terminal. Once I got there I realized how fast I was walking and how easy that walk was.   I thought about how just a few years ago, this kind of walk would have left me gasping for air and hurting for days.   Not so much anymore.  I was not even breathing hard.   How cool is that!   Once I got off the tram, I got a message from my housemate Dra.  She was outside waiting for me in her car.   I found myself almost running to get outside, and once I saw her car, I knew I was home.   She pulled over and jumped out of her car and met me halfway to her car.  It was one of those perfect moments in your life.   After a minute or two we put my bags in the car and headed back home.

My plans for the rest of the day were pretty basic: meet up with my fellow runners from the Dunwood Running group at Murphy Candler Park.  It was funny  because this was the same location that I met the group for the first time.   I was saddened when I found out that the group organizer Keryl was not going to make it due to a personal emergency.   She was one of the people I was so looking forward to seeing because she walked with me the first day and never gave up on me.   It took me 44 minutes to complete the 1.6 mile flat course with 1 little hill. I had to stop several times, but I made it, only because she never gave up on me.

I got to the site a little early and waited for people to show up.  It was funny the looks on people’s faces.  When they would walk up, you could tell when it was that they realized it was me.  It was always a look of confusion followed by a look of excitement and then awe.  It was an incredible feeling.  Here were my friends that have not seen me in months and they could not believe what they were seeing.   We broke up into different groups based on speed, so I took lead of a group of new runners and we headed out.   It was incredible how much easier  it was this time compared to just a few short months ago.   After the walk we headed out to dinner and it was my first real test.  We met up at a Mexican restaurant.   I ordered vegetarian fajitas, with lettuce instead of tortilla shells.   It was at that moment that I knew I was going to be able to keep on my diet while I was here.   A few minutes later, I was shocked when I saw Keryl walk into the room.   She found out that I was in town and had to stop by.   She was shocked when I stood up to give her a hug.   We sat down and started to talk.  It was great to get the chance talk to Keryl, especially with everything that was going on in her life at that moment.

After we left dinner I decided to head to work and say hello to my co-workers that were working the night shift.   When I got to the office I walked in and went looking to see who was in.   The office is currently going through some construction, so no one was where I remembered, so I walked around for a bit.   I finally found my friend Ray’s desk and I sat down near it and waited for him to show up to work.  He walked in and started to walk to his desk.  It wasn’t until he was about 15 feet from me when he noticed that I was there.    The look on his face was priceless.   We talked about Spartan Camp and my diet, and then he filled me in on what had been going on with his life.   It really is scary how much you miss when away for this amount of time.   We had to break things up because he need to get ready for the night’s maintenance and I need to get some sleep.

Tuesday morning rolled around way too early.  When I got up I headed out to CrossFit Grinder in Sandy Springs for my morning workout. I worked with Tom, one of their Level 1 CrossFit trainers.   The goal for that morning’s workout was to evaluate my strengths and weaknesses, and to loosen me up for the Peachtree Road 10K Race on Wednesday.   The workout was completely different than anything I had experienced with Joe.  Tom was very encouraging and kept me focused on getting one step closer to my final goal.   By the time the workout was over I was pumped and ready to take on the rest of my day.

I headed out to meet back up with Ray for breakfast.  I was able to avoid almost everyone in the office but a couple managers saw me and I stepped into their offices to talk for a few.   They could not believe I was in town, and how much different I looked.  Once Ray was free we headed out and we finished catching after about an hour or so we headed back to the office and that is where the fun started.   I walked up to my fellow programmers and just said hello.  They looked up from their screens and almost fell out of their chairs backwards.  We talked for a bit, and we decided to head to lunch a little early.  We wanted to catch up on what has been going on and we wanted to keep the number of people that saw me down to a few at a time so that we did not disturb the main floor.  After lunch we headed back to the office and I continued to walk around the office, and it was crazy how everyone’s reaction was about the same, Surprised, shocked and awe.   It was great to see so many of my friends and co-workers.  It is funny how much you really do miss your co-workers.  They really do become an extended family.

After a while I had to head out because I still needed to go downtown and get my race packet for the race and they closed the doors at 7pm.   By the time I got to the location it was almost 6pm and I had to get back to town to see another one of my friend who as in the hospital.  I could not miss seeing her while I was in town.    So I parked my car, and as soon as I started to walk to the conference center the skies opened up and started to pour.   Everyone started to look for shelter or an umbrella.  I just kept walking – it’s only rain, I have gotten so used to walking in the rain in Vermont, it doesn’t even phase me anymore.   By the time I got to the convention center, I headed straight to the registration section and headed back out.  When I got back to the doors of the convention center there were several hundred people waiting just inside the doors for the rain to stop.  I could not stop smiling and walked out the door and back into the rain.   Really, are people that afraid of a little rain?  That is too funny.

By the time I got to the hospital it was almost 7pm and I was so worried that I was going to miss visiting hours, but it was in time.  I headed in and met up with my good friend.  She was having a rough time after surgery but she still kept smiling.   We talked for a while about how things were going for both of us.   I was so happy to get to see her and to see her in good spirits considering what she had been thought in the last few days.  After a few hours of talking she started to get tired, so I excused myself and let her get some sleep.

Wednesday morning was finally here.  I was in Wave P of the Peachtree Road Race and our scheduled start time was about 8:25am.  From the advice of my fellow runners, we wanted to get there at least an hour and a half before the start time.   So we left the house at 5:30 so we could get on MARTA and take the train to downtown.    The MARTA station was about a mile from the location where wave P was meeting.  I could not believe how many people were there.   There were almost 60,000 runners and about 300,000 spectators there.   It was something I was not prepared for.  I could not believe the energy in the air.   It was an incredible feeling.  Around 7:45 our wave started moving towards the start line.  We were almost a half mile away, and it took awhile for us to the start line.  Tt was incredible.  We started to walk because there was just too many people to really run, but that doesn’t matter to me.   I was just happy to be there.

The advantage of walking gave me a great chance to talk to people and this helped the time go by.  Before I knew it, we saw the skyscrapers of Buckhead on our way to Cardiac Hill – the big climb on the course just before Piedmont Hospital.  It has a history of actually causing at least one heart attack every year.    By the time I got to the hill I was just started to get warmed up.  My knees and hips were just loosen up by the time I arrived and Cardiac Hill.  I started talking to someone next to me and before I knew it I was at the top.  I just started laughing because the hill to my house here in Vermont is worse than Cardiac Hill. It was as easy from there.  We headed down towards downtown, over I85 and into the downtown area, and just before the entrance to Piedmont Park was the finish line!   I had made it.   My official time was 2:01:13, but that doesn’t matter.  The important thing is that I went from sitting on my couch and watching the race on TV to crossing the finish line in just 1 year.

After the race we walked around downtown for a bit before heading home on MARTA.  The only problem is the station we went to was about 1.5 half miles away.  So you can imagine how tired my housemates were, by the time we got back home, but we need to run some errand before heading out for the 4th of July firework show in Centennial Olympic Park.  Once again we decided the best way to get there was back on MARTA.   This time the station was only about a mile from the park, so off we went.   I was feeling fine, but both Dra and Mike were starting to wear down. It was kind offunny because once we got to the park we found a spot and we really didn’t move from there.   They were both just happy to be sitting in the grass relaxing.

The firework show was great.  We were in the perfect spot.  There were fireworks going off of building on 3 sides of us.   This was the closest I have ever been to a firework show, and no matter what they say, TV just does not do fireworks justice. The colors are brighter and the sounds are deeper.  It was a great experience and I will remember for a very long time. After the show was over we headed to midtown to continue enjoying the warm summer night.   After another 1.5 mile walk we found this cool little restaurant where we sat back and reflected on the night.   We chilled out and talked till after midnight before calling it a night.  I have forgotten how nice it is to just sit back and talk with friend late into the night.

Thursday morning came very early.  I headed back to CrossFit Grinder Gym for my morning workout. It was a very solid workout.  It was a circuit routine where each loop we decrease the number of reps.   The first part was to pickup to dumbbells and then stepping up on a box.   The next station was to lift a 20 lbs medicine ball and then rotated it to my shoulders, then lift it over my head.  After that they had me move over to the rowing machine, and finally some time on the air bike.   Once we completed the workout I felt great.   The workout had pulled out the kinks from all the walking last night.

After the workout I headed back to my house to meet up with Dra.  Our plans were to spend the day together, but when I arrived she was still asleep.   She has been running non-stop for the last couple of day, only getting a couple of hours of sleep.   She has been running her own Personal Death Race and had finally hit the wall.   So I used these couple of hours to start to unpack some of the boxes from my quick move to the house before heading to Vermont.  She finally woke up around 2pm.  Shortly after that we headed out to have some fun.   As we drove around town I could not help but think how much I missed chilling out talk with her- talking about work, life, family, and even the songs on the radio.  After several hours of running around town we met up with my other housemate Mike and headed over to Cafe Istanbul for dinner and to meet up with a few of our other friends.   It was great to be back.  Our friends had beat us there, so we joined the at the table and started talking about what has been going on in the last few months.  When the owner stopped by it took him a few seconds to recognize me, and once he did he could not believe it..   It was shocked because he was not expecting to see me until October and wondered what had happened.   Once I explained that I was there for the Peachtree Road Race, he was relieved. After a couple of hours we decided to call it a night and head back home.

It was finally here, the day I had been dreading all week.  Time to head back to Vermont.  So I got up and headed off to my last workout at CrossFit Grinder.  When I arrived I found another circuit workout set up for me again.   But this time there was an interesting sled with a 15 lbs weight on it waiting for me.  As we talked about the circuit everything was good expect the weight on the sled.   It was too light, so we swapped it out with a 35 lbs weight, and that was still too light.  So we put the additional 15 back on and that felt good.  This circuit workout was more focused on my legs.  It included the rowing machine, climbing stairs with a 20 lbs and bag wrapped it in duct tape, the wind bike, and the sled pull.    It was a great workout and once it was over I was feeling great, but I had just one nagging question.   Just how much weight could I pull on the sled.  So I ask if we could add another 35 lbs to the sled, and he was happy to add the weight.  It was thought to do the pull, but I made it through it.  After getting back to the start line I asked if they had another 35 lbs.  This brought the weight up to 120 bs.   This was a real challenge, but I got it moving once I did I just powered through it and completed the loop.  I was incredibly sore at the point but I had made it.

After the workout I headed back home and met up with Dra.  We headed out for lunch and this is where I broke.  We headed up to a local sushi house, and yes for the first time since coming to Vermont, I ate meat.  I got a sushi and sashimi lunch platter.   But to be honest, I am ok with this.  It was one meal.   I knew that I will be back to raw fruits and vegetables in less than 24 hours.  So there, I’m not perfect.  I will fall off the wagon from time to time.  The important thing is that when you do fall off you get back on!

After lunch we headed back to the house, and just watched TV.  For the first time since coming back to Atlanta, I just relaxed and just enjoyed chilling out with my good friend.   After a bit, I packed my bags, and go ready to go. I gave my keys back to Dra and we headed out.   The ride to the airport as very quiet and you could feel the sadness of knowing I was leaving again.  When we arrived at the airport it was so hard to get out the car.  I knew that I all I had to do was tell Dra to take me back home and she would have, but I knew I need to come back to Vermont.   So I got out and got my bags, I said good bye, and gave her one more hug as I headed to the door.   I made it about half when some guy said. “It is really hard to say goodbye isn’t it.”   I replied you have no idea, but looking back on it, I’m sure he did or else he would not have said anything.  It was much harder to say goodbye this time compared to the first time, because this time I knew what I have to look forward to.  I looked back towards Dra, and I could see she was feeling the same thing as well.  For a second I thought its not too late, I still can go home.   I took a deep breath and headed on in.

Once I arrived back in Vermont there was a strange feeling.  It felt like coming home from a great vacation.   I was so happy to see my good friend and housemate Tara at the airport.   It was just wanted.  I needed to this after this very emotional day.   We talked most of the way back to the house,  We finally arrived around 2:30 am.   It was a very long day, and I was glad to be home and I headed off to sleep.   Or so I thought.   Joe had other plans for me…   I will tell you more about though plans in the next blog!


by Carrie Adams

Chris Detar

Spartan Race started our Street Team last year as a way for our most dedicated Spartans to spread the Spartan story and get their friends and family off the couch and racing in our nearly 50 venues worldwide.  Since it’s launch, the Street Team has spread to all 50 states and into several countries worldwide full of eager, active Spartans and each of them has a story.  We’ve been fortunate to hear so many of them and we are honored to tell them to the Spartan community as a whole.  One such story came to us from Chris Detar. 

Spartan Race advertises that “you’ll know at the Finish Line”.  To me, for the year that I have been a follower of Spartan Race, this has gone in one ear and out the other.  It’s just another catch phrase or slogan to stick in your mind so you will remember the brand.  I couldn’t have been farther from the truth as I would find out for myself.

From the time I first started looking into obstacle course races as a motivational tool for getting into shape I have been aware of the Spartan Race series, but it never worked out that they had a race close by on a weekend that I had free.  But I followed the Spartan series.  I read SR blogs and watched the Spartan Race videos.  I downloaded their radio podcasts and subscribed to their Workout of the Day (WOD).  I completed five other races put on by other companies, some local and a couple national, but I always came back to Spartan for reasons that it would be too difficult or that I would have trouble qualifying.  They were committed to getting people off their couch and were great motivators.  The stories of their races, the dominance of Hobie Call, and the growth of Spartan Chicked were compelling.  I even joined their fledging group, the Spartan Street Team, to promote the racing series, and yet I had never had the chance to compete.

That all ended on Saturday with my completion of the Spartan Sprint in Palmerton, Pennsylvania.   The course, though considered a Sprint due to its length (Super Spartans start at eight miles and this was five and a quarter), was designed to be as tough a Sprint as Spartan has ever put together.  They were affectionately referring to it as a mini-Beast, which is the toughest of Spartan Races.

You’ll know at the finish line!  But what do I now know?

Blue Mountain Resort

I now know I am tough enough to overcome any obstacle, be it physical or mental.  To look at the mountain that the course weaved up and down was intimidating.  The Blue Mountain Ski Resort has two double black diamond slopes at nearly 1,000 feet vertical climb.  Just looking up from the base and knowing that I would be climbing this mountain two times tested my mental fortitude.  I worried that I would not be physically able to handle the climbs and descents and complete 25 obstacles, but at the finish line I knew.

I now know that Spartan is the toughest race going.  As I stated before, I have completed five other races, a few of them much longer than this Sprint, but none of them compared to this race.  The mountain itself, the way the race organizers weaved us up and down the slope, cutting through the woods to traverse technical trails, was more than any other course I have encountered.  The obstacles, including a 15 foot rope climb, walls that ever increasingly got higher, a gravel carry (in five gallon buckets), a very long crawl under barbed wire through rocky mud, and a 40 pound sand bag carry up and down the top of the double black, all exceeded anything I have endured before.  At the finish line I knew I had completed the toughest course around.

I now know why I followed Spartan Race and joined the Street Team.  This race series is the best around.  I was worried going in that I would feel let down if this race and its people were not equal to the pedestal I had put them on.  I was already signed up for two more races so that I could achieve the Spartan Trifecta this year.  The trifecta is achieved by completing a race in each of the three distance groupings.  What if I had signed up for three races and hated it? What ifI encouraged others to join this race and it wasn’t everything I told them it could be.  Well, at the finish line I knew I had made the right call, that my gut decision about Spartan was right.

I look forward to training for the next two races in the series, culminating with the Spartan Beast in Vermont this September.  At the finish line I learned a lot about myself, that I have more strides to make, more weight to lose, and more miles to run, but I also learned that I am strong enough to do so because at the finish line, I knew.

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Understanding the Lactate Threshold

by Jeff Godin, Ph.D., CSCS

The lactate threshold is often misunderstood and underutilized. The purpose of this article is to discuss the source of lactate, the metabolic consequences of lactate accumulation, and the utility of the lactate threshold in practice.

A discussion of the lactate threshold has to begin with the source of lactate. Lactate is a by-product of carbohydrate (CHO) metabolism, called glycolysis. Glycolysis starts with a molecule of glucose that comes from the blood  or muscle glycogen . Blood glucose is derived from either liver glycogen or from the diet. At the onset of exercise the most likely source of glucose is muscle glycogen, but as the reserves become depleted blood glucose becomes more important. During glycolysis, the glucose molecule is broken down in a series of chemical reactions to produce 2 ATP (3 ATP if the source of glucose is muscle glycogen) and pyruvate.  Pyruvate has two potential fates; 1) complete oxidation in mitochondria or 2) conversion to lactic acid. The fate of pyruvate is dependent on a number of factors, the most important is the demand for ATP.

If the demand for ATP is high, the conversion of pyruvate to lactate accelerates glycolysis and ATP production. Under conditions where the demand for ATP isn’t as high the pyruvate will be oxidized in the mitochondria. The demand for ATP is dictated by the intensity of the exercise. Complete oxidation of pyruvate produces a greater quantity of ATP; however it is produced at a much slower rate. The amount of ATP produced per unit of time during anaerobic glycolysis is almost 2x faster than aerobic glycolysis. Anaerobic glycolysis has a high rate of ATP production but it has a limited capacity, it fatigues quickly.

Metabolic Consequences of Lactate Accumulation

Even at rest, some pyruvate is converted to lactate, but it is cleared at a rate that equals production. As a result lactate levels stay low in the blood. As the exercise intensity increases so does lactate production and its removal, but at some point lactate production surpasses removal and the lactate begins to accumulate. There is a lot of misinformation about the metabolic consequences of lactate accumulation, one of which is the association with fatigue. Lactate, in itself, does not cause fatigue; rather it is the acidosis that accompanies lactate production that does. Whether or not the acidosis is a direct result of lactate production or another step associated with the high turnover of ATP is currently under debate. But what we do know is this; when lactate levels accumulate – fatigue will follow. Also, we can assume that under exercise conditions when there is an accumulation of lactate that there is a high rate of glycogen usage and depletion of this important, but limited, fuel source will also result in fatigue.

During a graded exercise test (GXT) (see figure) lactate levels stay close to resting values during low to moderate intensity work. As the exercise intensity increases from moderate to high lactate accumulates above resting levels. During high to very high intensity exercise, lactate levels will increase exponentially.  During high intensity exercise slow twitch muscle fibers cannot produce the force necessary to meet the demands of the activity and fast twitch muscle fibers are called into action. Fast twitch muscle fibers are more reliant on glycolysis for energy production and therefore produce greater amounts of lactate. This rapid rise in lactate indicates a high rate of ATP production, a high rate of glycolysis and the onset of acidosis in the muscle. This intensity cannot be maintained for much longer than 45 minutes – maybe an hour in well trained athletes who have a high tolerance to muscle acidosis.

Some athletes mistakenly believe that the rise in lactate, called the lactate threshold (LT), indicates a switch from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism. This is not true, the muscles are still very aerobic, yet there is a greater contribution of anaerobic metabolism. The anaerobic contribution comes from the activation of fast twitch muscle fibers. The fuel for this activity may be coming from 99% aerobic and 1% anaerobic sources.

Practical Application

What is the significance of this? Why do we care? Many endurance sports (Triathlons and marathons) are raced for durations that are greater than an hour. Any race that lasts longer than an hour would require the athlete to race at intensities below the LT. Events of shorter distances (10k runs) are race at or above the LT. As you can see, knowing the LT can provide important information for the athlete attempting to determine their race pace and predicting performance. Even more importantly, the LT can be a guide for determining training intensities. Training sessions that are intended stress the slow twitch fibers and fat metabolism should be conducted well below the LT and for training sessions intended to improve lactate tolerance VO2max, and stress the fast twitch muscle fibers should be conducted at and above the LT. The lactate threshold can also be an accurate gauge of which fuel sources are providing the energy during training sessions. For example, as the intensity approaches LT there is greater reliance on CHO metabolism. At first, the CHO will be oxidized aerobically, but once the intensity gets closer to the LT more of the CHO is broken down anaerobically. When a molecule of glucose is broken down aerobically we get 32 ATP,  if it is broken down anaerobically we get 2 or 3 ATP. Thus when exercising at an intensity at or above the LT we are using 16X more glucose to produce the same amount of ATP and the glycogen stores will be depleted faster than if the glucose was broken down aerobically. This information would be relevant for any athlete who competes in endurance events where glycogen depletion causes fatigue.

The lactate threshold can be correlated with heart rate, running speed, or power and training zones can be established based on those variables depending on the athlete’s needs. Some coaches use time trials to estimate the LT based on average heart rate or power achieved during a maximal effort over a predetermined distance. The advantage of this method is that it doesn’t require blood sampling and can be conducted under “real life” conditions. However, time trial estimates are also more prone to error and dependent on the motivation of the athlete. Lactate measurements precisely measure the metabolism of the muscle which is the best gauge of intensity not perceived effort.

To summarize, lactate measurement is a measure of the metabolic activity of skeletal muscle. During lower intensity efforts blood lactate levels are relatively low indicating less of a reliance on CHO metabolism and low metabolic stress. As intensity increases, lactate levels increase indicating an increase in CHO metabolism and muscle acidosis.  This information is important to understand pacing during endurance events and to precisely determine training intensities that elicit the appropriate response and adaptations during training. The lactate threshold is measured during a graded exercise test. The information provided by a lactate threshold test is helpful for any athlete who wishes to train and perform better.


Jeff  received his Doctorate in Kinesiology from the University of Connecticut and is certified by ACSM, NSCA, and ISSN.  He is currently Chair of the Departmental of Exercise and Sport Science at Fitchburg State University and the Director of Spartan Coaching. Spartan Coaching will go nationwide in November 2012.


Master WOD Archive 7.9.12 to 7.15.12

by Jason Jaksetic

WOD for 7.9.12

We hope that you were all out crushing long and intense workouts this weekend.  Did you log long miles to help further solidify your aerobic conditioning?  Get your strength routines in, too?  Time to schedule a day of light exercise to allow your body to heal.  If you don’t put active recovery WODs into your training you risk burning out and entering the danger zone of becoming flat and stale – or worse, injured.

CLICK HERE to read more about the importance active recovery WODs and how to schedule them into your training.

Tomorrow go for an easy swim or take a casual bike ride .  Being active is a great way to jump start the healing process – so a recovery day is not an excuse to stay parked on the couch, it is a chance to get creative and try new activities!  Just keep the intensity and duration or your workout low.  Leave the stop watch at home.


WOD for 7.10.12 brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition

Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.
- Booker T. Washington

Tomorrow’s WOD is a killer combo of resistance training and cardio.  We love mixing it up and if you know anything about progressive fitness training, changing things up is the key to consistent results.

You’re going to be performing 7 total exercises. Now that doesn’t sound like a lot, but read on…

CLICK HEREto view tomorrow’s WOD by James Villepigue CSCS & Hobie Call and brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition.


WOD for 7.11.12

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
-  Abraham Lincoln

Run 3-8 miles (with negative splits)

One of the single most important factors going into a workout is your mindset.  For this WOD make up your mind that you are going to negative split each mile.  This means that as your run progresses, each mile is performed at a faster pace than the previous mile.  Start out slow because once you get rolling there is no going back.  Make the last mile your best – let’s see what you’ve got!  Afterwards, be sure to jog a bit before a doing good stretch.


WOD for 7.12.12

Our life is frittered away by detail… Simplify, simplify.
- Thoreau

Don’t let yourself be paralyzed from action because you are confronted with two many choices on how to train – when in doubt, just start doing push-ups!

Power ½ Hour of Push-ups:
Grab a watch and pick a set number of push-ups to do each minute for 30 minutes.  After doing a set number of the push-ups at the start of a minute, you recover the remainder of the minute.

So, for example, if you want to do 120 push ups in 30 minutes, do 4 push-ups each minute on the minute for 30 minutes.   Perfect form and execution of each repetition should be your foremost goal, then worry about racking up big numbers.


WOD for 7.13.12

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.
-  Ursula K. Le Guin

We get stronger one workout at a time.  Don’t let your mind get cluttered with plans and worries about the future when you can focus on the workout that is immediately before you.  Be present in your workout.  Enjoy it!

Warm up: 10 minute jump rope
5-15 pull-ups, 10-30 burpees, 5-15 burpee pull-ups
(repeat 3 times)
then, 1-3 mile run
cool down:  stretch


WOD for 7.14.12

Confidence comes from hours and days and weeks and years of constant work and dedication.
– Roger Staubach

The benefits of aerobic conditioning are many.  You accumulate them from spending more and more time training in your aerobic zone.  From augmenting endorphins to decreasing blood pressure, there are plenty of reasons to have a long run in your week.  Not to mention, if you are doing a Beast, odds are you are going to be out there for awhile.  Be ready!

Tomorrow go out for 1-3 hours.  Road is fine, but we find trails ideal for Spartan Race preparation – the more gnarly the better.


WOD for 7.15.12

Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.
-  George Edward Woodberry

Time for a monster workout.  This one may be intimidating, but you won’t know what you are capable of until you try.  Tired from running long yesterday?  Then this is the PERFECT workout to get your ready for your Spartan Race.

Start with a 3-4 mile run.  Let the first mile be your warm up, then gradually ramp up your intensity till you are finishing at race pace.

Immediately, break into the following strength routine:
50-200 body weight squats
20-100 push-ups
4 minute plank
50-200 lunges
10-50 burpees
50-100 crunches
optional:  Run 3-4 more miles.

Cool down with a good stretch.


by Carrie Adams

It’s long been the Spartan message that training for Spartan Races ensures that runners are Spartan Ready on race day.  Whether you are coming to the race to compete or just finish, training is an integral part of the process!  We offer our own WOD’s that focus on strength, endurance, and power – all elements necessary for success on the challenging Spartan courses.  You can sign up to get them in your inbox HERE.

When it comes to Spartan training, we often hear from the endurance community and the endurance experts in the field.  Recently, Endurance expert Rich Airey who gave us his insight into how to best prepare for a Spartan Race…and not surprisingly it all comes down to goal-setting.

Rich Airey, Endurance Expert

I was recently ask how I would go about training for a Spartan Race?  My response was, “how well do you want to do?”  When it comes to endurance racing your goals will determine how specific your training needs to be.  Training to win and training to finish are two completely different animals but regardless of your goals there are a few things to focus on.

Priority number one should be your run training and the length of your Spartan Race will determine the volume you should run.  I wouldn’t recommend attempting a 12+ mile race over mountainous terrain on limited run training, not if you enjoy the experience.  If your intention is to suffer then by all mean neglect your run training.  Obstacles or not the good majority of the event is still running  I would recommend adding technique drills, intervals (long & short, time & distance based), hill training (don’t forget to practice  going fast down too) tempo/threshold runs, long runs as well as obstacle specific runs.  By no means do I expect you to incorporate these 5 things into your training every week but it would be good to do 2-3 every week and the technique drills can be used as a warm up for your run training.    The more efficient you become the easier it will be getting from obstacle to obstacle.

Several friends completed the Super Spartan in Temecula CA and many others that attempted the Death Race in VT.  They all used CrossFit or some form of high intensity functional movements mixed with max effort lifting as the strength program to prepare for the obstacles. They were doing so 3-5 x’s a week.  The running and the terrain is what they were most challenged by.

Your background and your goals will determine how specific and how demanding your training will need to be in order to insure success as you take on the challenge of an endurance event like the Spartan Race.  Like it or not, running is the bulk of the event, so you may want to invest a good amount of training to the run.  Not just head out the door and go run, add some specificity to your running.  Don’t neglect your strength program either. Finding a balance between both will be the key to your success.  No matter what you do be ready to suffer this isn’t your local 5k/10 that’s for sure.

Think you are ready to take on a Spartan Race?  Click HERE and get signed up!  You won’t regret it.

[Editor's Note: Guest blogger, Rich Airey is a running and strength coach originally from Point Pleasant, NJ. As an Endurance Biased Strength and Conditioning coach living in San Diego, CA, Rich travels the United States educating on running mechanics, strength and mobility as well as injury prevention and nutrition.

As a private coach, his clients range from those seeking improved fitness to USA Olympic Trials Qualifiers. Rich was a Special Education teacher and has coached high school runners for 10 years, 24 of them earning All-American status under his guidance. While racing for Monmouth University, Rich was the NortheastConference steeplechase champion and held the 10,000m school record. He continues to race extensively, competing in 5ks, marathons, ultras.]

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