Today Spartan Race hit a landmark of 4million Facebook fans! YOU made that happen and because of you we are going to celebrate being Spartans by cranking out 30 burpees all across the globe. Grab your friends, grab a camera, and get some video footage of yourselves doing 30 burpees! Spartan Citizen Cody Allen got us started today from far away Afghanistan. Thanks Cody!

 

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“Spartan Races own Joe Desena will be a guest speaker at the The Body Black Belt Health & Wellness Summit. Elevate your health and take your body to the next level by joining Joe along with fellow guests Dr. Will Tuttle, Dr. Izabella Wentz, Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo, Dr. Bernie Siegel, Dr. Carolyn Dean, Dr. Daniel Benor, Gillian Hood, host Travis Richardson and more – for a no-cost, online event, July 7 – July 31. #bodyblackbelt http://bodyblackbeltsummit.com/

Spartan Swimming 101

You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.
- Edwin Louis Cole

How much swimming are you incorporating into your training? Maybe it’s time to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new?

Whether you want to actively recover from your normal routine, or introduce yourself to the full-body workout that swimming can be, consider looking for a pool when at a gym or workout facility.

Regardless, of your motives, during a Spartan Race you might find a deep appreciation for your experience in the water.

LAP SWIM ETIQUETTE–FITTING IN AT THE POOL

by Erica Smith, Elite Open Water Swimmer and Coach

Swimmer here.  I’m here to break the unfortunate news to you that swimmers (as we call ourselves–those of us who have the distinction of having been competitive swimmers in high school and/or college), are holding you in judgment for the suit you wear, the goggles you wear, and the way you conduct yourself at the local YMCA or community pool. As soon as we see you coming, we’ll start sprinting butterfly or doing extra-splashy flip turns to discourage you from sharing our lane. It’s not just swimmers behaving badly–I swear runners have taunted me in similar ways when I venture out of my territory and onto land.

Fortunately, there are ways that you can work out in peace without being taunted or judged by swimmers. First off, don’t ever show up wearing a scuba mask or ancient-looking goggles. I like Blue Seventy goggles–all models make excellent open water goggles, and you can wear them to the pool. Don’t wear swim trunks or a triathlon suit–you’re going to have to get yourself a real swimsuit made for pool swimming. Now, emerge from the locker room and walk across deck with confidence. If the lap lanes have speed designations (Slow-Medium-Fast), make sure you don’t overestimate yourself. Using fins doesn’t count towards your perceived speed. It’s taboo among swimmers to wear fins for an entire workout, and everyone knows WHY you’d be doing that.

Once you choose the appropriate lane, there are a few basic but very important rules you must follow:

1. If you are joining a lane with one swimmer, you must alert that person to your presence before you begin swimming, and ask whether your new lanemate prefers to “circle swim” or “split the lane.” Using proper swimming lingo will earn you points. Circle swimming means that you will swim counterclockwise, always hugging the laneline to your right. Splitting the lane means that you and your lanemate will each choose one side of the lane, and you will hug the same laneline going up and down.

2. Never, ever, ever veer into the middle of the lane for any reason. Pay attention to where you are in the lane at all times. Now is not the time to practice eyes-closed navigation drills. No one wants to get a concussion during a swim workout.

3. If joining a lane with multiple swimmers who are already circle swimming, you need not alert anyone to your presence, but you must join the lane in a way that does not interrupt anyone else’s workout (see guidelines below). If you join a lane with two swimmers who are splitting the lane, you must ASK both swimmers whether they will circle swim to let you join, BEFORE you begin swimming in that lane.

4. Never push off the wall right in front of a swimmer who is approaching the wall to make a turn. This is exactly the same as if you were running on a narrow track, and a slower runner stepped in front of you and forced you to stop.

5. Never push off the wall RIGHT on the feet of the swimmer right ahead of you. Always wait at least five seconds or until the swimmer ahead is past the flags.

6. Never touch the feet of the swimmer in front of you for any reason. It’s your fault for either pushing off the wall too soon, or not choosing the right lane. If you are doing a faster workout, you’re going to have to stop at the wall, wait until there’s enough space in between the two of you, and then start again. No one is looking for a negotiation about accommodating your workout.

7. If you do accidentally make contact while swimming, pick your head up to apologize. Or wait to apologize at the wall, whenever both of you stop.

8. If you are stopped at the wall to rest, make sure that you stay off to the side so that the end of the lane is clear for other swimmers to make turns. If you are blocking the wall with your body, don’t be surprised if a swimmer flip turns and their feet fly mere centimeters from your face. You’re not supposed to be there.

9. Hand paddles can be helpful for learning proper catch position in freestyle, but you should avoid using them in a crowded lap swim lane because of the likelihood of contact with other swimmers. It IS possible to break fingers or cause bloody gashes through contact with hand paddles.

Following these guidelines should ensure that you have a pleasant and fruitful experience at your local pool. Your new swimmer friends will appreciate your efforts!

 

Erica Smith was a NCAA All-American swimmer and is now an open water swimmer, writer, and professional swim coach specializing in open water training and racing.  She can be contacted at smitheureka@gmail.com.

 

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A recent trend in the running world is a return to basics: running barefoot. With the trend sparked largely by the publication of Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run, runners across the country have begun to embrace the trend of running without shoes. The book highlights groups of people that ran for thousands of years without the benefits of modern-day shoes. In particular, the Tarahumara people of Mexico’s Cooper Canyons are highlighted. Apparently, thin-soled, canvas shoes have much lower rates of injury than normal jogging shoes. 

So should you ditch the shoes for good? The short answer is “it depends” on who you listen to. One Harvard University professor touted the benefits of barefoot running, claiming he runs through Cambridge at least once a week without shoes.  Other doctors are more skeptical, claiming the number of running-related injuries has increased dramatically as their clients lose the shoes in favor of barefoot running.

Another columnist found a more practical reason standing in her way. She opted against running through streets barefoot, instead trying a local park. However, the number of dogs and homeless people led her to question what she might step in and she’s scaled back her running barefoot.

As with most trends, there is profound disagreement about the benefits of running barefoot. Still, if you’re up for an extreme challenge, this might be just the ticket.

Whatever your choice, running a Spartan Race requires training, so get to it!

Picure credit: CNN,  runmyroute.

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The sun rose slowly over the hills of Southern California Saturday morning. Blue shirts swarmed the hills of Vail Lake in order to bring the Spartan Race to life. Saturday marked the first time that Spartan Race had done both a Super and a Sprint in the same day and the weekend promised to be epic.

Tony Matesi launched the days activities off with the morning Hurricane Heat. The HH is a different kind of event. Not so much a race as a challenge to be taken on. It forces people to work together as a team to overcome obstacles together. Tony took the participants that signed up through his various tortures starting at 6am for a full four hours. For a complete rundown on the HH look for Tony’s report coming later in the week.

Cars filled the parking lot as the Elites began warming up for what promised to be an epic battle. The men’s elite had high-octane racers in Spartan Pro Team members Hunter McIntyre, Matt Novakovich, Miguel Medina, and Chistopher Rutz. The women’s Pro Team showed up in the likes of April Luu, TyAnn Clark, Juliana Sproles, Jenny Tobin and Tiffany Novakovich. The rest of the field outside of the Pro Team was stacked. Rose Wetzel who stormed through Malibu was in attendance as was Laura Messner, and as was expected the legendary Hobie Call came to push the men to their limits and beyond.

The weather on Saturday was sunny, warm, and not a cloud in the sky. It promised to make the course fast, but dangerous as was seen through the day where people cramped up from a lack of sufficient hydration. The Amphib Medics crew, as well as Spartan Race Staff, was there to help those injured on course to safety or to help get them back into the fray.

The Elites took off early for the Super where money was on the line for that event. With the men first out of the gate it was a tight bunch until coming to the first gamble where racers could choose to either take the shorter harder route or the longer faster half of the course. Hobie and Matt “The Bear” Novakovich veered to the right while Hunter took the left shorter route. As Hobie and The Bear came out of their gamble they caught sight of Hunter and the group that went left far up ahead.

Ever the fierce competitor Hobie caught Hunter making it another epic showdown between the two friends. Newcomer John Yatsko form Arizona was right on the heels of the two titans for the men. At the end of the day it was Hobie first, Hunter tacking second, and John in third.

It was universally considered to be one of the toughest women’s fields people had seen in awhile. It seemed to be that only reigning World Champion Amelia Boone, still recovering from a hamstring injury, wasn’t on course. Rose Wetzel and April Luu promised to make this women’s race one to remember trading back and forth on the course until April missed the spear thrown and Rose stuck hers resulting in just the break she needed to take the win. April cruised into the finish line in second place with TyAnn Clark placing third. 

The Saturday Sprint was not a money heat but still saw Laura Messner dominate as she warmed up for the Sunday Elite Sprint. Saturday also introduced the first time Spartan Race recognized the top age group finishers from the open heats. 14 year old Josh Novakovich dominated the Under 20 open taking first place overall while placing fourth overall on Saturday in the open.

Sunday the money heats for the Sprint were run and the podiums didn’t look too different. Hunter took first for the men with newcomer John Yatsko in second and Glen Racz in third. For the women it was a tight race. Kk Paul came through the finish line ahead of Rose Wetzel to take first place. A battle between April Luu and TyAnn Clark decided third place. The epic finish came down to the wire as April barely edged out TyAnn for the last podium spot.

The weekend wasn’t just about the Elite’s however. Families spread out on Saturday to cheer on their loved ones as well as soak up some of the beautiful weather that graced the event. New sponsors Core Power Protein delivered much needed post-race beverages to racers at the finish line. 

Spartan Race began the year trying some new things with team results and rankings. Each team that signed up were ranked according to the average time of the top 4 finishers on their team. P4L Fitness took top in the team standings with an average time of 53:05 with the mighty Weeple Army (who had 269 racers in attendance) in second and Warrior Showdown placing third. Looks like it’s time to get serious about team racing.

Lastly the great medal question of 2014 came to an end with Spartans receiving the new medal and being told they would need to perform an additional round of burpees for their second medal. The second medal being of course the one everyone had come to expect from previous events. No one walked away disappointed, and the beach by the lake was a swarming mass of muddy bodies flying through burpees in order to collect not one, but two medals. Some even wandered around with four.

As mentioned earlier the 2014 SoCal Spartan was the first time racers could take part in not just one race but had the option to run two distances in one weekend. There were those brave souls taking up the gauntlet thrown down by Spartan Race and running both courses in the same day while others chose to run the Super on Saturday and the Sprint on Sunday. Either way these brave Spartans are two thirds to their Trifecta with only one weekend of racing under their belt in 2014. As we talked to some that had done both they made it abundantly clear that they would be finishing out their Trifecta before the year is out.

The kids races were amazing to behold, especially the Special Needs kids race. Seeing the families going around the course together made it hard to not feel that pull on your heartstrings. Spectators dried their eyes as these amazing families came rolling through the mud together with smiles a mile wide.

All in all the weekend was a huge success with tons of muddy smiling faces, a few cuts, some bruises, but a huge sense of accomplishment and satisfaction by those who raced. Next sop on the Spartan Race calendar, Arizona. Will we see John Yatsko make another appearance and if so will Hunter and Hobie be there to take him to the limit? The best way to find out is to be there. Sign up for the Arizona Sprint and we will see you at the finish line.

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image credit http://pure-well-water.blogspot.com/

by Harmony Heffron

Being depressed and having weight issues frequently go hand in hand for women.  A study by the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle shows that helping women fight depression may also help them fight obesity. The lead author of this study, Gregory Simon, M.D. said, “Increased physical activity leads to improvement in depression and improvement in depression leads to increased physical activity. We see in our study that they go together, but we can’t say which causes which.”

The women studied in this experiment were divided into groups, one only focused on losing weight and the other focused on losing weight and healing depression.

After six months of treatment the two groups showed a marked difference in their response to treatment. In the group that was treated for depression, 19% more women, compared to the group solely focused on weight loss, showed a weight loss over 5%.

This study is a great reminder that, more often than not, a healthy mind lives in a healthy body. A lot of people try to be happy by losing weight or getting fit, but it may be just as effective to become happier in order to get in shape. In the end, a balanced focus on both mental and physical health can’t be beat.

Remember, when all is said and done, laughter is the best medicine.

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by Harmony Heffron

With the best intentions you go to the gym, working out hard to get the results you want.  You try to do all the right things while there to maximize your results and minimize your chance of injury. Of course, you stretch before you start, wear appropriate shoes (do NOT wear construction boots on a treadmill) and listen to your body, right? Injuries are all-too easy to receive.

Before you pat yourself on the back too hard though, here are a few common gym mistakes you might not have thought about:

1) Not Eating. Lots of people don’t eat before going to the gym. They think by having no fuel in their stomachs they will burn up extra body fat instead. This is a huge mistake. Not having enough fuel in your body can lead to shaking and dizziness. Your body will also not have much energy to work with, making it more likely that you will exercise less, giving up early because you feel tired.

2) Becoming Dehydrated. When you exercise you sweat right? Sweat is mostly water. So water (sweat) leaving your body, combined with not drinking enough water, equals dehydration. I know this sounds simple but if you are working out in a warm environment or are hitting the sauna you are more likely to become dehydrated as you work out. This can cause cramping, stress your internal organs, and cause you to feel ‘out of it’ and distracted, raising the risk of injury. Don’t try walking to the water fountain more often,  this will only distract you from your workout and give your body too much time to cool off if you’re working on a cardio routine. Bring water bottles with you, keep them next to you, and sip from them OFTEN.

3) Not Taking Time Off. The harder you work the better the results will be. This may be true at the office, true when you’re studying for a test, true when fixing up your house, but it is NOT always true at the gym. I know this will be hard to hear for some gym rats, but you have to take some time off every once in a while. Rest days are important chances for your body to repair itself and build new muscles. If you are feeling tired after you work out, you probably need a rest. Working out should make you feel energized and healthier.  If you’re not feeling this way it’s your body’s way of saying that you’re pushing it too hard.

4.) Becoming Bored. Boredom doesn’t sound too dangerous but it can destroy even the most dedicated Spartan’s workout. Having the same routine for too long, doing too many exercises you secretly hate, or just having a case of the winter doldrums are all common culprits. One day you go to the gym with enthusiasm, the next you’re trying to think of any excuse that you possibly can to stay home. Thankfully there are things you can do to try to fight off the foe of ambition. Try varying your routine, not only will it help you keep things interesting, but you’ll probably end up exercising some different muscles your previous routine wasn’t using. Getting a new gym partner or listening to new music or podcasts while working out can also be good ways to shake things up. If your gym offers any classes, this can be one of the best ways to get out of your exercise slump. Even if it isn’t something you’d usually take, try it at least once. Either you’ll find something new you love to do or you’ll have such s horrible time you’ll be THANKFUL to return to your old, boring routine.

And the best way that I can think of to beat the boredom blues is to get out and do a Spartan Race.  You’ll stay motivated as you train for the race and you can rest assured that you will NOT be bored on race day.

Picture credit: kaiafitsacramento

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“Individually, we are one drop. Together we are an ocean.” -Ryunosuke Satoro

When Spartans were attacked in battle, they formed a tight group, using their shields to protect themselves and their fellow warriors.  This was called the Phalanx Formation. If one Spartan broke formation and tried to flee, his comrades lost the protection of  his shield and would likely be killed. Spartan soldiers depended on each other completely, entrusting each other’s lives in their fellow soldiers’ hands in each battle they fought.  A Spartan standing alone on a battle field may not have been much of an opponent, but a group of Spartans in tight formation was a formidable foe.

To work in a group, people must learn to trust each other. To be effective together, each member must know how the others will think and will act, especially during times of stress. Spartan warriors lived together, ate together, trained together and fought together. Their entire lives were spent together, to the point that Spartan soldiers were as close as brothers.

In our modern world, it may seem impossible to know another person to the same degree that classical Spartans came to know their fellow soldiers.  We rarely have the opportunity to really get to know the people we work with and depend on.

With time so short in our society,  how can you get to know the people around you? How can you learn to be part of an army that works and functions together, instead of just a soldier standing alone?

Getting out of the office, away from emails and pressing deadlines affords people a perfect opportunity to actually learn about their coworkers.

Competing in a Spartan Race together is a great opportunity to discover your coworkers’ hidden talents.  Crawling through the mud break downs the barriers coworkers feel between each other in the office.  Aspects of people that would usually never be seen come right up to the surface.

Learning new things about your coworkers can be really enlightening when you’re back at the office. Someone you never thought was brave before may show a lot of courage under pressure by crawling under barbed wire and hurling themselves over obstacles. Next time there’s a big presentation, you will know the perfect person who can be confident on a stressful day. Under stress we learn how other people really think and act. It’s much easier to work with other people when you know what they’re made of.

If a group of people can run a Spartan race together, I guarantee you that they will be able to run the rat race together, no sweat.

In short, work together. Strength in unity is universal.

You see how that works next time you’re at a Spartan Race. See you at the finish line…

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Lurking in almost everyone’s house, the couch is a menace to Spartans and athletes across the globe. It beckons to us as we try to leave to go for a run, whispering seductively, “Just a little rest won’t hurt you.” As we walk out the door on the way to the gym it calls, “Why go now? Why not watch TV instead?”

Its pleas are tempting.  Comfy cushions entice us to give up on our goals in exchange for a quick nap. Is the couch really your enemy? Really?  It just sits patiently in your living room waiting to comfort you after a hard day. Maybe you are enjoying your couch right now.

Yes, its allure is undeniable, but you have the choice not to give in to it.  In that choice lies your power–your Spartan power.  For no Spartan ever gave in to the couch.  No Spartan ever chose rest over exertion.  No Spartan ever preferred luxury to indubitable self-reliance.  No Spartan ever wanted to relax rather than engage in brutal, sweaty, dirty physical exercise.

According to the British Journal of Sports Medicine, physical inactivity is the biggest public health problem of the 21st century.   ”At least 60% of the world’s population fails to complete the recommended amount of physical activity required to induce health benefits,” says the World Health Organization
So, next time you think about getting comfy on the couch and taking a break from your exercise program, think about what you’re really giving up: your commitment to be the best you can be.

Why not be a Spartan and get off the couch instead?

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by Jessica Murden

One of the most well-known exercises in CrossFit is known as Tabata.  The Tabata method of training is based on high intensity interval training.  Developed by Dr. Izumi Tabata at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan, the Tabata training method has become one of the most integrated and performed regiments in CrossFit.

What is Tabata?

Tabata is a type of training in which each assigned exercise is performed, for the max amount of reps, for 20 seconds, followed by a 10 second rest.  It is then repeated seven more times for a total of 8 intervals.  The total exercise takes 4 minutes.  The score is the least number of reps out of the eight performed intervals.

 

What is V02 Max?

V02 Max is defined as “the highest rate of oxygen consumption attainable during maximal or exhaustive exercise.” The point at which oxygen consumption begins to plateau defines the VO2 max or an individual’s maximum aerobic capacity.  A person’s V02 Max is one of the best indicators of cardio endurance and aerobic fitness.  Therefore, increasing the body’s oxygen uptake will increase athletic performance.

How can this be done?  TABATA!

A typical TABATA workout may consist of, but is not limited to:

Squats

Push-ups

Sit-ups

Pull-ups

Burpees

Each exercise is performed for 8 rounds, 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off.  Your score is the least amount of reps for each exercise performed.