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.

by Mike Levine, Spartan Staffer

I am Reebok, I am CrossFit, I, am a Spartan.  Going back to the age of seventeen, the first national sponsor that approached me as an athlete was Reebok.  A young Division I athlete, and I was branded head to toe by some really great people at Reebok.  They made sure I had everything I needed and were gracious in every way.  Fast-forward fifteen years…Now, I train at CrossFit Lighthouse in New York with an incredibly committed group of like-minded people and I work for Spartan Race.  I was incredibly exited with our announcement at the Times Square event that I was now coming full circle, and rejoining with Reebok.  With Citi Field nearly upon us, I can’t wait to see how Reebok and Spartan put on the Sprint in my back yard.

Spartan is an amazing brand of empowerment.  We are a dedicated group of professionals who inspire people to reach for the best and demand the absolute best of themselves.  We are not defined by a race.  Rather we are measured by the successes of our followers.  To our fellow Spartans, I tell you from personal experience that Reebok is no different.  They are Spartans.  This partnership brings us incredible opportunities.  There is a tremendous synergy between our two brands.  As gracious partners, Reebok invited us into their world and we will enjoy a tremendous relationship, we will certainly look much better in our new gear, and we will have an amazing brand to grow with.  Reebok stands behind their athletes.  They are a brand that helps their followers fulfill their dreams…sounds like a Spartan if you ask me.  So come out to one of our races this year, meet our Reebok ambassadors, get some new gear, and have some fun.

There’s still time to join us in Citi Field April 13th.  Get signed up HERE!

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by Amanda, Czapla, Elite Spartan Athlete

Playing as a Child

As a child I idolized my older brother. I was more or less his shadow. What he did, I did. From getting into trouble, playing in a mound of dirt, searching for rollie pollies, making mud pies. We were kids having fun the only way we knew how. Those were the good old days.

Flash forward 15 years. The monotony of being a roadrunner was starting to take its toll. I needed a change. Deciding to branch out, a friend and I signed up for our first obstacle race, the Warrior Dash. Disappointed by the lack of intensity, we wanted something a little more challenging and we found the Miami Super Spartan Race in 2011. I knew I found my race. I felt like that little girl running carefree with my brother through the trails, picking up heavy objects, throwing myself over walls and getting down and dirty. A second place finish and a few nefarious battle wounds motivated me to come back the following year faster and stronger. My weakness was obvious; I neglected my upper body and relied heavily on my speed and endurance.

Setting Goals

Over the next year, I made a few lofty goals in preparation for my ultimate test to WIN the Miami Super Spartan 2012. Hard work and a few PRs later, I did take the top spot in Miami and then a few others. Admittedly, I was still intimidated by the rope climb and a few other obstacles. To be truly competitive, a racer would have to finish a race burpee free.

Carolina’s race made me stop making excuses and to learn to swim. For the Vermont Beast, I thought training for the Chicago Marathon would suffice. Mountain legs? Ha! Joke was on me. Those weren’t any mountains, those were mountains from hell! I never walked so much in my life on a course. I met my match. I was under-trained. South Florida may have beautiful beaches, but it will not prepare you for the course in Vermont. A little bitter post Vermont, I wanted redemption and set my sights on the Spartan Texas Beast.

My preparation was solid. I knew this would be MY race to prove myself in the fast growing sport of obstacle racing. And then, a fatal fall the first mile in, I hobbled my way through another 12 miles of obstacles to finish 6th. I took it hard. I did this to myself. I refused to heed the obvious caveats of over-training. I was forced into submission. My Achilles’ heel was my Achilles’ heel. Achilles’ Tendonosis. No running for 6-8 weeks per my doctor’s orders or I could risk a complete rupture. The fear of being out 6 months with surgery if I decided to push it, I succumbed. Feeling empty and lacking the anaerobic push with the Miami Super Spartan quickly approaching, I chose to join CrossFit Fort Lauderdale, The Playground. I knew if I wanted to play with the big boys and girls I would need to step my game up.

Miami Super Spartan came and went. It was a surreal feeling to be back in action. I knew I wasn’t 100%, so my goal was to have fun and stay within my limitations and not overdo it.

The Spartan Way

What I love about Spartan is pushing through that damned and fathomed wall, refusing to give up, refusing to quit. I love the ability to test my limitations that bind me by breaking free and emerging fearless. I refuse to say, “I won’t, I can’t.” I love what I hate, what makes my skin crawl.

Whatever it is that you abhor, that you cringe at the very mention of it, make it your strength. Dominate. Work on it with relentless dedication and perseverance. Believe in your abilities and when it comes race time, let that be the obstacle that you do not falter, that you own and you makes you smile looking back. Embrace the inner child.

The Spartan community is a family. A network of friends from across the country that may or may not be as “crazy” as you are. We are hungry. We refuse to settle. We share similar desires, the same passion to continually strive to be the best, constantly evolve, have fun along the way and experience the adventure that awaits us.

The people are real. The emotions are real. The journey is real. For everything that Reebok Spartan Race is, “You will know at the finish line.” Aroo! It’s time you find yours. Register today.

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Proven

By Jason Rita

Talk about a Spartan Race power couple… Tommy and Bobbie Jo Hackenbruck are the owners of Ute CrossFit, whose Team Hacks Pack UTE won the 2012 Affiliate Cup Championship at the recent CrossFit Games.  Tommy is also Spartan Race’s Utah race manager where Bobbie Jo was 1st place female in 2011 and 2nd place female in 2012.  Bobbie Jo is coming to Vermont to challenge the top women for the championship at the Killington Beast on Saturday.  We’re putting the race favorites on notice: the Utes are coming…

 

If you are looking for answers, it is usually a good bet to start with the right questions. As an athlete, Tommy Hackenbruck asks those questions in the form of what he will endure in his training.  The answers have been on display throughout an impressive athletic career, from the highest level of college football to CrossFit Games championships.

 

I’d spent my whole life challenging myself with everything from doing back flips in my football pads, to climbing every tree in my backyard to jumping off 50 ft. cliffs.  Random athletic pursuits led me to being a multi-sport athlete through high school and eventually a starting middle linebacker on the University of Utah Fiesta Bowl team in 2004.”

 

Most athletes, he says, don’t know what all out is, and never truly redline, always keeping something in reserve in competition and in training, backing off when they start to feel they might be close to their maximum.  He recommends picking selected workouts in your training plan and attacking them 100%.  “If you want to be champion, you have to be prepared to give full effort.  To do that, requires you move beyond the fear of failure.    There is a difference between failure because you backed off a full effort, and your body “failing” because you try to push it to a level of performance you haven’t yet reached.  Training with this mindset resets the potential of what is possible, like waking to fresh morning dawn after an epic thunderstorm.  Things look different.

 

CrossFit Games Competition Record:

2009- 2nd Place in world

2010- 9th place in world

2010- Coached affiliate team to games

2011- 23rd place in world, coached Taylor Richards-Lindsay 24th place in world and coached affiliate team 9th place in world

2012- Affiliate Cup Champion, team member and coach

 

Rather than always do workouts that he knows he can do, he designs selected workouts where he doesn’t know if he will be able to finish them.  The interesting part is not whether or not he crosses the threshold of the specific workout, but how he reacts, certainly physically, but more importantly, mentally, not shying away from how much it will hurt, or that he might not be able to complete it, but whether he is strong enough mentally to give the challenge everything in his being without fear of falling short.

 

“I have re-defined my perception of fitness, completely changed my eating habits, and passionately pursued a well-rounded, more inclusive kind of fitness. At 29 years old I am stronger than when I was playing college football, yet my endurance is the best it’s ever been and my overall fitness is the best it’s ever been.”

 

Tommy warns not to do this type of effort every day, he thinks of it as something special, something you do once in a while to seek out the suffering.   “People don’t know what they are truly capable of, and the fear you must get past in a workout of this kind carries over into your life, your relationships, your work.  It is about breaking through the ceiling of your current level, smashing the picture you have of yourself, and seeing a new athlete in the mirror, one that is fearless, powerful, PROVEN.”

 

“Results are earned.  Spartan Race and obstacle racing are a fitness revolution. People are finally realizing what true fitness is.  My whole team ran Spartan Race together.  It was perfect training, unknown obstacles, taking us out of our element a little bit.”  Interview “Box Built, Field Tested, Spartan Proven”

 

Tommy will be competing in the Killington Beast, but it’s Bobbie Jo Hackenbruck who is threatening to upset the favorites we previewed yesterday.  Bobbie Jo also was a high level collegiate student-athlete, a 4 year starter and captain of Utah Utes women’s soccer team.

 

“My athletic career began when I was born; I have always been wild and full of energy.  Not the talking kind but the moving kind.  I grew up wishing to be the first “girl” in the NFL.

 

Channeling that energy into action, Bobbie Jo today focuses a lot of her training and coaching on fundamentals of movement and posture, informed by Paul Chek’s “Primal Movement patterns” of gait, squatting, bending, lunging, pushing, pulling and twisting, as well Nicholas Romanov’s Pose Method of Running.

According to Bobbie Jo, the initial movement should always be corrective.  The goal of movement is achieved by transition from ideal position, i.e., posture, to next ideal position to achieve a specific goal or satisfy a desire.

This philosophy helped Bobbie Jo go from an often injured athlete to one who is never injured.  During her college soccer career, she was sidelined by a range of injuries such as pulled quadriceps, strained hamstring muscles and multiple disc herniations.   Her training now is built on this postural approach where the progression is not just to do harder and harder WODs, rather doing workouts that are more corrective to the body, and consider the functionality behind the workout, asking what will create a well-balanced body. She credits this for saving her back and comes to Vermont as agile as she is strong, a perfect recipe for success in the Killington Beast race.

 

Like husband Tommy, Bobbie Jo emphasizes the mental side of elite performance:  “Many athletes are not training their mind to fully find their potential, and are not asked to do that.  In competition, there are many contests that that could be won with a stronger mental game.  Success doesn’t happen because you are lucky, it comes when you train to that level, where you are willing to sacrifice body and soul.” 

 

Commenting on the amazing comebacks of the US Women’s National Soccer Team at past World Cups and at the Olympics, Bobbie Jo recognizes that the seemingly impossible comebacks were predicted by and predicated upon the mental discipline and energy of the players, channeling their preparedness and intense will to win.  The “lucky” comebacks were not luck at all.  Expect to see this sort of intensity from a driven competitor.

And so if Bobbie Jo upends the status quo in Vermont and leaps up the Spartan Points rankings with a win in Killington, it won’t be “luck” when Team Hackenbruck attack on the Beast.  Game is officially ON.

by Khaled Allen

Picture credit Julia Baykova on Flickr

My most impressive physical accomplishment involved me carrying an aluminum canoe over razor-sharp rocks submerged in  knee-deep water, during a thunderstorm, while thick underbrush dragged me to my knees. It was one of the best days of my life, largely because it ended with a warm campfire and a full belly, but I was lucky to have been well prepared for it. For the month leading up to that camping trip, I had been doing all my usual CrossFit workouts outdoors, running on grassy mounds, lifting logs and rocks instead of balanced bars, and doing pullups on tree limbs. I was used to awkward, slippery, and uncomfortable. Some of my camping partners were totally stuck. Their gym workouts hadn’t prepared them for this, though they could probably lift more than me.

If the only races you’ve ever run have been on paved roads, you’ll be in for a surprise when you first step off the beaten, graded, and well-maintained path. Road runners transitioning to trail running always find that it’s the little things that throw them off: the unsure footing, the twists and turns, the constant elevation changes. They can handle the running itself, but when you have to get past all sorts of other things to even get to the running, you may find yourself stranded.

In reality, our bodies were designed to work in unstable, unpredictable conditions. Primitive fitness is based on using all possible movement patterns, in random and unpredictable environments and is based on what our hunter-gatherer ancestors did every day. It pays to keep in mind that we only have to use our own strength and speed when we lack modern conveniences in the first place. The only times you’ll have to rely on your own physical abilities to get work done are also the times you won’t be indoors, near the comforts of civilization. You wouldn’t have to carry your injured friend if you were near a road with a car, for example.

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by Beth Connolly

[Editor's note: this post introduces a new series that will appear on the blog: "Spartan on the Road."  Read on for more information!]

Not just anyone can spend ten months on the road.  Imagine it: you’re separated from your friends, your coworkers, your girlfriend.  Driving from city to city, mostly staying in hotels.  It’s a lonely and exhausting life.

Now, imagine living on the road and completing exhausting CrossFit workouts every day.  Sound impossible?

Maybe other racing companies know the meaning of the word “impossible.”  Spartan Race does not.  Nor does Ben Killary, our intrepid Spartan On The Road.  Just a few weeks ago, he embarked on the journey of a lifetime.  Over the next six months, he’ll be travelling from state to state, from Crossfit Box to Crossfit Box, spreading Spartan toughness to Crossfitters across America.  He’s also embarked on a simultaneous, equally challenging journey: getting into shape the honest, brutal, sweat-bathing Crossfit way.

“If I’m doing this the right way, I’ll be a machine by the time I’m done,” Ben said in a recent Skype interview.  “What I’m doing is awesome.”

Ben might not strike you as a stereotypical “elite athlete.”  At least not yet.  A May 2010 graduation of Vermont’s Castleton College (major: Sports Administration, minor: coaching), Ben says he packed on the pounds from his wild college lifestyle.  Now, though, sick of being teased as the “chubby Spartan,” he’s dedicated himself to the Crossfit-approved Paleo diet, eliminating sweets, dairy, and gluten.

Ben was a devoted Spartan even during his crazy college days.  He’s proud to say that he’s been with the company since day one—he started at Spartan Race as an intern in January 2010, distributing fliers door-to-door in college dorms and garnering Spartan Race’s historic first 5000 Facebook fans in just one week.  After graduation, he started working at Spartan full-time, doing whatever necessary to get the young company off the ground.  Since then, he got sick of being constantly referred to as “the chubby Spartan,” and he joined Crossfit a few months ago.

He saw results immediately and loved the camaraderie he felt with the other athletes.  “I’m in love with Crossfit now, I’ll never stop,” he said.  “I feel like I have to work harder and get better.”

The Spartan on the Road concept developed as a way to get the Crossfit community involved in Spartan Races.  “I truly believe that the Crossfit athlete is the elite athlete to be in our sport, based on the way they train,” said Ben.   Crossfit workouts challenge athletes both in strength and cardio training, thereby creating an ideal, balanced athlete—not the narrow-focused athletes we’re familiar with, like distance runners and bodybuilders.  Who better to compete in a Spartan Race than an athlete trained for speed, precision, strength and focus?

Ben was honest about the difficulties of life on the road.  “I’m alone all the time,” he said.  He battles the physical fatigue of his grueling workout schedule, not to mention the long hours of transcribing notes and driving.  He left his good friends and girlfriend back at home in Boston.

But Ben is no stranger to personal adversity, nor to overcoming it with grace.  He struggled through a childhood of verbal abuse at the hands of his stepfather, a man who routinely told Ben he’d doubtless end up in jail or worse.  At 14, Ben’s mom gave him up, and Ben spent the rest of his teenage years in foster care.  “I was pawned off to the state because at the time my mother thought I was the problem.  I might have had a smart mouth, but that was the worst of me,” Ben said.

After bouncing from family to family, Ben eventually ended up with a wonderful family.  The mother was “the sweetest lady in the entire world,” and he considered her children his siblings.  Though less than 1% of Vermont State’s foster kids have ever gone to college, Ben went—and graduated.  “My caseworker had seven hundred kids in his career.  I was the only one who ever got a degree,” Ben said.

The difficulties Ben has faced in his past only motivated him to try harder, to excel, and to succeed.  “I’ve never blamed fucking up on my past,” he said.  “I’ve just taken responsibility.”  And his stepfather?   He’s and Ben’s mom have since divorced, and Ben and his mom are on good terms.  “Now it makes me laugh,” Ben said, “because the magnitude of what I’m involved in is incredible.”

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