SNAP Infusion, one of Spartan Race’s newest partners, are the creators of SUPERCANDY and the official SUPERCANDY of Spartan Race for the 2013 season. They made their debut at the Spartan Race at Citi Field. At 2013 U.S. events, SNAP Infusion will set up aid stations on the course providing SUPERCANDY to athletes to help get them through the race, and compete at their very best.

SNAP Infusion is a proud supporter of Vitamin Angels, a charity that brings health to millions of children throughout the world. They recently launched a program, SUPER MOMS, that will be running through Mother’s Day and will feature special Spartan Race SUPER MOMS! We will be highlighting the SUPERMOMS of the Spartan Race Series, because we believe that every mom is super, and we are searching for the perfect pairing of the Super Spartan Moms whether it be for personal accomplishment, family or a cause.

Our first SUPERMOM is Katie Vescelus, who shaved her head bald and participated in the Spartan Race as a fundraiser for St. Baldricks. Katie is mother of two very special boys, Magnus and Matthias. At three months old, Matthias was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare cancerous tumor in his eyes. He spent the majority of his first year fighting for his life and endured six months of chemotherapy. Near the end of treatment, his main tumors started growing again and despite his doctor’s best efforts, Matthias’ eyes were both removed before his first birthday.

Matthias is now cancer free and hasn’t let blindness hold him back. He attends preschool with sighted peers and enjoys playing with his older brother and neighborhood friends, swimming, climbing, riding his tricycle and learning to play the piano. He will be under the care of an oncologist for the rest of his life due to a genetic mutation that makes him predisposed to developing other cancers.

This was Katie’s first Spartan Race. She was inspired last year as a spectator cheering on her husband, Craig, and older son

, Magnus. It looked like fun, and a great challenge. Katie admits that she was not at all in shape at the time, so it gave her something to work toward. She is now focused on training for the Midwest Spartan Super in July. Her training includes a lot of running and a big focus on upper body strength..oh and a lot of burpees

So, how does she find time to train and juggle being a full-time mom? Katie shares her secret “It can be difficult to find the time/energy to train, but I really wanted to finish this race. That kept me going. My family is a great motivator as well. Craig and I work as a team, both as parents and training partners. We push each other and help each other, often taking turns watching the kids while the other goes out for a run or other training session. Magnus (our 6 year old son) is a huge ball of intense sunshine who cheers me on and keeps me going. His energy is contagious. And Matthias inspires me as much as he inspires others. He is this little juggernaut wrapped in a cute little huggable package. Nothing stops him. Long ago we decided that if we were going to help him push his limits, we were going to need to be willing to do the same.”

Now that is a SUPER MOM!

Mother’s day is around the corner, is your mom your super? Share the story of your SUPERMOM with SNAP Infusion and Vitamin Angels #mysupermom

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The Top 5 Benefits of Alternative Locomotion:  Part 3 –  Multiplanar.

by Joe Di Stefano co-founder of Spartan Coaching

click here for Part I and click here for Part II

The human body has three primary planes of motion, the sagittal plane, the frontal plane, and the transverse plane. All human movement can be categorized as occurring in in one of these planes depending on if it involves stressing the body as a left and right side, a front and back side, or a top and bottom; respectively.  In short, the human body can move forward/back, side to side, and up and down.

Most of us would likely agree that almost everything we do on any given day involves forward locomotion on two feet, lifting, pulling or pushing weights, lounging on a couch or working at a desk. Generally speaking, nearly every possible action or movement we can make in any one of these activities is dominated by the sagittal plane with mere brief incidental exposures to the other two.  Most of the time in life, whatever you are doing, it involves moving forward.

Taking a look at Spartan Race, the single most common injury we see are ankle rolls, which occur in the frontal plane after the joint loses a stability battle with rough terrain or an obstacle. Our second and third most common injuries are separation of the acromioclavicular joint of the shoulder from falling awkwardly onto an outstretched arm or injury to the rotator cuff muscles, usually the supraspinatus whose job it is to keep the ball at the top of the humerus in the shoulder socket. Both of these shoulder injuries typically occur in a combination of the three planes but whose pathology can be traced back to sagittal plane dominated posture, the resulting dysfunctional length-tension relationships among the muscles surrounding vulnerable joints, and the fact that we rarely train the body to deal with it’s own weight under varying conditions.  Ankle and shoulder injuries are common because our bodies are built and trained for forward, while these body parts are about all ranges of motion.

Most training programs, no matter how dysfunctional your flexibility, posture, or strength are will have you picking up weights on your first workout. This may get you feeling great, mainly because muscles are finally being used and previously dormant physiological processes are actually being kick-started but in the end typically you are reinforcing the postural problems created by your previously sedentary lifestyle and continuing your body’s tendency to favor the sagittal plane at the expense of the other two.  Alternative locomotion will exposure shoulders and ankles to multidirectional joint positions and stabilization requirements as well as multidirectional deceleration forces in controlled and varied postural positions. After training with these movements regularly expect to see improved posture, improved muscle function, and few aches and pains after your next race. You’ll also be stronger in most weight lifting exercises because much like trying to walk on a sprained ankle, if your body senses poor posture or high injury potential, it makes sure to only gives you enough strength to not get hurt.   Briefly put, animal movements get your stabilizer muscles strong enough to start lifting weights.

Traditional training programs are almost always dominated by overhead movements with little if any productive work done to reduce injury potential. In fact, the majority of people actually lack an ability to fully flex the shoulder to an overhead position! (A simple test: Stand tall, with completely locked elbows and straight arms. Lift your arms overhead…one of two things probably happened, one, you got “tight” prior to being fully overhead or two, you arched your lower back to achieve the last few degrees of flexion in the shoulder.)

Research has shown that up to 54% of asymptomatic individuals already have a cuff tear their body has not told them about yet. Let me rephrase, up to 54% of people with ZERO pain in their shoulder already HAVE a rotator cuff tear, add in the people with mild to severe pain prior to the race and the deck is pretty stacked! No amount of “strengthening” or standing external rotations with a thera-band are going to prepare you to survive a full body, deadweight hang that forces full flexion of the shoulder (regardless of if you just failed my test)…Add in the momentum of swinging from bar to bar and a splash of strength in internal rotation with your entire body weight hanging in the balance and basically…. we’re lucky anyone survives it.

Experimenting with alternative locomotion will stress the body in all three planes of motion without much thought or premeditation needed. In any given workout, these movements will expose the body to it’s own weight and force the shoulder to be stable despite being confronted with multidirectional forces acting on it. The hips and ankles hip have to be more mobile yet still incredibly supportive in foreign and awkward joint positions. At the same time, the core is being forced to stabilize the torso yet still transfer energy between the upper and lower body. Oh and by the way, these incredibly beneficial exercises are 100% free and you can do them in your driveway. At some point maybe I will touch on the stoic value of doing these in public, but not today. For now, let’s injury proof your body while adding fluidity and coordination to your athleticism!
Here’s a warm up to your workouts to test your skills:

Warm up:

Bear Crawl x 15’

Lateral Ape, Left x 15’

Lateral Ape, Right x 15’

Reverse Bear Crawl x 15’

 

 

Reference:

Sher JS, Uribe JW, Posada A, Murphy BJ, Zlatkin MB. Abnormal findings on magnetic resonance images of asymptomatic shoulders. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 1995 Jan;77(1):10-5. PubMed PMID: 7822341.

 

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by Alexander Nicholas, Spartan Elite Athlete

The programs we do at EPIC are ideal for Spartan Race training, and I only found that out after I participated in my first Spartan! We jump, we crawl, we swing, we sweat, we suffer! As soon as I became hooked on the races (It only took one) I knew I had to bring my new found obsession to EPIC. It was not an easy feat convincing our members, ranging from investment bankers to biochemical engineers, to sign up for a race that is run by the same people over at “Youmaydie.com.”

 
 
One of the best aspects of the Spartan Race is that anyone with enough heart can complete a Spartan Race. Physical limitations are NOT an excuse for quitting a Spartan Race. You create your own challenges and your own goals. One person aspires to finish on the podium while another is simply aiming to cross the finish line, but both those people are on the same course and both people are in the SAME class at EPIC. That’s why I knew we needed to create a team for our gym. Once everyone was on board, we didn’t need to change our training regiment at all! But slowly the mentality in the training center changed, and that’s what made the difference.

The week before the race, I took a chance and emailed a list of members to run the Elite Heat with me at CitiField. The responses were amazing, “F%#K YES!” and “If you can catch up to me!” were among them. These were people who were nervous to jump into their first class only months ago. I think the real difference is that we always have fun in what we do. I had a real “Mr. Miyagi” moment days before the race. All the exercises and all the hell I put my members through was finally going to be justified at Citifield. No more “please stop the burpees!”, “anything but the bear crawl!” or “This giant jump rope is just unnecessary.” I was building them into Spartan assassins and they didn’t have a clue! After the race, the members realized that every extra burpee, Sandbell smash, and inverted plank mattered, and was worth it!

I was overly impressed and humbled by everyone’s dedication and performance at Citi Field. We ran at 11am with a 60 person strong team. If someone couldn’t get over the higher walls, everyone stopped and helped them over, it was an amazing experience to take part in and the energy in our gym has definitely changed for the better since. A greater sense of camaraderie is in the atmosphere here and new and old members alike are benefiting! Placing 1st out of 800 teams was no small feat and you can bet we are planning on defending that title in Tuexedo, NY on June 2nd!

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In this installment of “How To”, Elite Pro Team athlete Miguel Medina shows us how to get past the Atlas carry without too much worry.

With each person comes different skill, strength and technique levels. Just bear in mind that simple golden rule: lift with your legs, not your back!

Use this technique at your next Spartan Race and we’ll see you at the finish line!

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3 Common Signs of Overtraining

Sleep is the best meditation.

– Dalai Lama

Sometimes after a hard weekend of racing, meditation — in any form — is a good idea. If you accelerate the intensity and durations of your workouts as the week progresses, Monday is a great day for recovery sessions, organization, visualization, and planning for the upcoming week.  Or, whoever said your workout for the day can’t be an extra hour of sleep? Maybe you need it? You might be overtraining.

If you are passionate about obstacle racing you are a prime candidate to let your enthusiasm carry you into ‘overtraining’ – this is when the volume and intensity of an individual’s exercise exceeds their recovery capacity.  What happens very often is that within a week or two, a person goes from sedentary to exercising 5-7 days a week.

There is a misunderstanding about training that is easy to fall into when training: more is not necessarily better.  Sometimes a recovery workout is just what you need to get back to a position to push hard again.

Here are 4 typical symptoms that a person who is pushing their boundaries too fast might experience.

Loss of enthusiasm for training – Suddenly your once favoriate activity is your least favorite chore.

Elevated resting heart rate – Many athletes check their heart rate first thing in the morning.  If it is elevated above their average, they see that as being indicative that they are not fully recovered and in need of more rest.

Decreased feelings of a full recovery – Whether it’s a persistent fatigue and muscle soreness, or a mental slump, if you are not feeling full throttle after your usual rest period, you might want to look at revising your workload.

 

Listen to your body, it might be telling you something.

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SNAP Infusion, one of Spartan Race’s newest partners, are the creators of SUPERCANDY and the official SUPERCANDY of Spartan Race for the 2013 season.  They made their debut at the Spartan Race at Citi Field. At 2013 U.S. events, SNAP Infusion will set up aid stations on the course providing SUPERCANDY to athletes to help get them through the race, and compete at their very best.

In addition, SNAP Infusion is a proud supporter of Vitamin Angels, a charity that brings health to millions of children throughout the world.  They recently launched a program, SUPER MOMS, that will be running through Mother’s Day and will feature special Spartan Race SUPER MOMS! We will be highlighting the SUPERMOMS of the Spartan Race Series, because we believe that every mom is super, and we are searching for the perfect pairing of the Super Spartan Moms whether it be for personal accomplishment, family or a cause. In a few weeks, we will also be launching a fundraiser page on vitaminangels.org where we will encourage SPARTANS to Compete For a Cause with a fundraiser to complete a spartan race and raise money for Vitamin Angels–info to come.

The first SUPER MOM selected is Katie Vescelus who is participating in the Indiana Spartan Race with her family. Mother to two sons, Magnus and Matthias she helped change the health habits of her whole family after her son Matthias was diagnosed with cancer. Now in recovery from cancer, Matthias, who we profiled earlier this week, is a St. Baldrick’s ambassador and will be taking on the Spartan kid’s race.

Lauren Formalarie, spokesperson for SNAP Infusion says, “Katie touched us in such a way that we are so excited to share her inspirational story as a part of our program SUPER MOMs of the Spartan Race. Her passion, drive and commitment to a healthy and active lifestyle are so close to the vision of SNAP Infusion SUPERCANDY. It takes a very special person to be a MOM and as every mom is truly SUPER, this is our way of sharing the stories of strong women across the country.”

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CJ Wilson wasn’t happy about his health. He was unimpressed with the way his body had been mistreated by way of his lifestyle and intake and one day, at 264lbs, he decided that he had enough.

He explains, “Everything I had was bad. I hit a major breaking point when I began to see serious stretch marks on my stomach. I couldn’t even walk around at work without getting short of breath or the worst “chub rub”. I knew I had to try something.”

That something was to embark on a journey of a new “him”. Together with a another “big guy” at his place of work, they began a competition to see who would lose the most weight in three months. In those three months, after cutting out beers, sodas and increasing his walking as a way of exercise, he found 34lb disappeared.

After three months of diet changes and then later, cardio work and light weights, CJ found himself getting leaner and fitter. An obstacle of a broken engagement to his fiancé presented itself in 2012, but he channeled this into striving to go for another 25lbs. Now, well below 180lbs, CJ will be attacking the Georgia Sprint as a new man.

“As far as more exercise… I’m planning on continuing to challenge myself in every way possible. I’m not sure what that will entail but I’m so excited every day to see what my new body can do.”

Samuel Stark has a similar tale. Despite already having achieved a place on the Trifecta Tribe list, he remains very humble about it.
“”I was on your web site today, and I saw my name on the Trifecta Tribe list. I earned my Trifecta in August, but it still feels good to see my name on the list.”

Sam’s journey began at age 3, when he was diagnosed with Asthma. By the time he was 13, he was over 260lbs. At age 14, he began exercising and struggling through but reached a plateau at 200lbs and found it hard to move further.
“Then Spartan Race came into my life, it gives me something to train for on a daily biases, I am currently 178 pounds have finished multiple 5k’s two half marathons, multiple other OCR’s.”

This fight, this epic struggle against the nagging, negative voice in his head became a victory. Not quitting, not ever allowing failure to be an option became the realization of that coveted Trifecta membership.

“For some people earning a Trifecta is something that represents how hard they worked for a few months or a season, maybe even a year. But for me someone that did not finish his first Beast, it’s a journey that I have been traveling for the last 20 years. Though I know my journey is far from over I want to say thank you.”

More fuel to the fire of “if you try, you will do it”. Just never stop believing.

See you at the finish line.

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by Brakken Kraker, Spartan elite athlete

When I arrived at Haspin Acres a year ago, I truly had no idea what to expect. As Spartan’s first ever “Founder’s Race”, it was being billed as a sort of return to the roots of ancient Sparta: a primal, stripped down race. It sounded intriguing, but it really didn’t paint a clear picture of what we were to expect come race time. No one had any real idea of what we were about to endure.

A little over half an hour later, I crossed the finish line smiling, having enjoyed almost every second of the race (other than the barbed wire crawl). The experience was very different from my previous two Spartan forays. From the start the “primal” theme was set as we were immediately directed into the frigid shallows of the lake before returning to the course. There was no rope climb, no traverse wall, no spear throw, no sandbags, and no balance obstacle; in truth, it was lacking any one of the defining “Spartan Race” obstacles. Despite this, the course had been a blast to race! It wound constantly up and down ATV trails. The trails were coated in an orange mud, soaked by the week’s rainfall, which made any sort of incline nearly impossible to run up.

And then there was the barbed wire crawl. The endless barbed wire crawl. It was littered with hay bales that prevented you from rolling. It forced you crawl its entire length, arm pull after burning arm pull. And just as you finally emerged from that torture, you ran around a corner and found yourself facing another identical stretch of wire. In your final strides you were confronted with a log barrier that loomed over your head. I watched as many a racer accelerated to the finish, only to find they could not make it over the final barrier. One of the top five racers lost his spot, just feet away from a podium finish.

This Indiana race will be wide open on both the men’s and women’s side, with several of the big names in Spartan Race taking the week off in preparation for the mighty Colorado Sprint which looms in the coming week. Spartan Pro Team racer Elliott Megquier will be joining me at the starting line, we will find out if LeEarl will be making his 2013 debut, and my brother McCauley may just make the drive down with me to throw his hat in the ring.

Race Director Todd Sedlak is making his debut in Indiana and has promised a brand new course completely different than last year, less than five miles in distance, but no finish times under an hour. It’s time to head to the Midwest! See you on the course!

Register today!

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The Top 5 benefits of Alternative Locomotion Movements (aka Animal Movements):  Part II

by Joe Di Stefano of Spartan Coaching

click here for Part I

Eliciting a more balanced training effect.

“Body weight training” not so long ago was synonymous with doing a whole bunch of push ups and sit ups each night in front of the TV. Occasionally including chin ups for some but let’s face it most either did not have access to a chin up bar, did an entirely imbalanced ratio of push ups and sit ups to chin ups, or simply couldn’t do a single chin up so focused on the other two…as for legs, they either got the total shaft or were taken care of by “running”. Today “Body Weight” training for most has evolved, improved, and got a little more balanced but still many people do not balance the program anatomically. There are those that do of course, but sometimes only after incorporating outside equipment such as suspension trainers or other implements that continue to isolate specific movements or combinations.

Alternative locomotion, or animal movements, allow us to utilize the entire body in an athletic, fluid manner that forces all of the muscles to work as a single system. This helps us avoid a need to work the back, the middle, the top and the bottom which tends to develop “mirror muscles” but can actually impede athleticism and coordination while increasing injury potential in unforeseen or untrained scenarios, i.e. any Spartan event.

At the start of Day 2 of a recent SGX Workshop, where Day 1 included multiple workouts using Crab Walks, Ape Walks and some Bear Crawls all the trainers could talk about was how sore their butts, inner thighs, upper and mid back muscles were. How often is that the case in bootcamp?! People are almost always universally sore in the chest, shoulders, quads and abs! This makes it clear that our effectiveness to work the “anterior” or frontside, of the body far outweighs our ability to work the “posterior” of the body. In fact, the postural adaptations discussed in the previous post along with a human body that is incredibly efficient at compensation, most of us tend to use all the same muscles in almost everything they do! Which also explains why people literally “forget” how to squat, lunge, or pick something up yet can “relearn” simply without stretching a single muscle once they switch on some of those dormant muscle groups.

Since the posterior side of the body is ultimately the side of the body whose strength and function will dictates head to toe injury potential, it is critically important to incorporate training that trains it efficiently and in synergy with the rest of the body it is designed to protect.

A Spartan WOD on Motion by Spartan Coaches Part II

All motion is cyclic. It circulates to the limits of its possibilities and then returns to its starting point.

—Robert Collier

Cover 1 mile for time carrying a sand bag, dumbbell, or Lowe’s bucket full of sand or rocks.

Then:

Crab Walk, 50 ft

Sideways Ape Walk, 50 ft (left)

Sideways Ape Walk, 50 ft (right)

Reverse Crab Walk, 50 ft

Rest 1 minute, Repeat 3-5 times, then:

Match your previous 1 mile time from the warm up.

Lateral Ape: Beginning in a bear crawl position, “push” yourself backwards until your feet are flat on the floor and you are in a deep squat and “hands free” position. Now reach both arms to one side and shift as much of your weight into them as possible. Maintain this pressure as you “hop” your legs to that side. Continue in a fluid pattern and repeat on the opposing direction.

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February 9, 2013

Marissa (Mari) Romero, 42, is from The Valley of the Sun, Phoenix, AZ. She is a self-employed assisting senior loan officer and is the mother of a son and daughter. Mari was convinced by her out of state cousin, Sandra Hansen, to participate in the Reebok Spartan Sprint. Mari started training by taking Pilates classes and working out. She then hurt her back and had to scale back to next to nothing on exercise. Mari’s goal was to see just how far she could go with the little physical preparation she had.

At the start line, Mari was excited and ready to run. She felt the energy of the venue, she was confident in her own mental toughness although she knew the physical challenge would be difficult. A little shy of mile one, Mari twisted her left ankle, it made two loud cracking sounds which stopped Mari in her tracks. What she thought was a sprained ankle turned out to be a broken ankle she would find out later. Mari didn’t want to hold Sandra’s race up, so sent her cousin off on her own, assuring Sandra that she’d be alright. And alright, Mari was. She trudged on through the desert, obstacle through obstacle she plunged doing a few sets of burpees. Mari would not give up; she fought right to the end.

With her injury, Mari said that every obstacle and mile marker was an accomplishment for her whether she did the obstacle or had to do the burpees. ”The feeling at the end was exhilarating to say the least,” said Mari.

After recovery Mari plans to start training again now, and harder, as we will be seeing Mari next year at the Reebok Spartan Race. Perseverance and determination helped this strong woman complete what she came to do in the desert of Arizona.

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