By: Casey Eischen

This past weekend we took part in the first ever Spartan Race 12 Hour Hurricane Heat. Honestly, had Joe Di Stefano not invited me I would not have considered it but who am I to pass up that opportunity? I had never done a Hurricane Heat so I had no expectations, but being a SGX Coach and finding out this was a Death Race qualifier I knew one thing, they would do everything they could to try to break us.

The nerves set in a week before when we get this ominous email from Tony Matesi saying they have been watching us and then proceeded to name a bizarre mandatory supply list each athlete must take. The list included a golf ball, flotation device, and Hooters poker chip to keep in our backpack that would carry enough food and hydration for 12 hours. Oh, and we will be in the desert so why not make us wear all black while we are at it!

Morning of, 32 of us HH12HR athletes met at 5:15am with the rest of the regular HH crew of 60, but we we’re distinguished by our reflective vests. We didn’t actually start til 6am and of course we kicked it all off with burpees. We did them together counting as a team until told to stop at 103. Next came the first of what would be MANY dunks in the ice bath. At first we were told to just sit in there and recite the Spartan Warrior Ethos and then we all had to cross over the other side by submerging our heads under a wall. This would be my biggest Achilles heel of the day.

After that, we had to duck walk up a mountain to where there start line was and of course, do more burpees. From there, we had to lay on the ground and roll about 100 yards to where we would build a “tunnel of love”. First person to arrives goes to plank, next person army crawls under to plank, and so on. I was third to fall in line which meant I had to hold a downward dog/plank for about 10 minutes while 90 people crawl under. Not so bad but your pack is on your head crunching your neck. Then we proceeded to some obstacles. First was the under/over where I was chosen as the person to not touch the ground. I would bear hug the hurdle and swing under which was most affective while I saw other groups lay down and pass someone on top. After climbing another hill we then proceeded to some more obstacles: cargo net, wall, and then to the rope climb where we all had to wait til every athlete hit the bell at the top. I hopped right to it nailing it and then watched as a bunch of men tried to get a larger fellow up without success. Finally someone grabbed the bell from the top and brought it down to him to ring.

By this time, athletes and spectators were filling in so why not parade us in front of them? So we had to do about 30 minutes of different exercises which included more burpees, push ups, lateral gorilla, planks, and kid n play. At this point, 3 hours was up and we went back to the dunk tank to chant the ethos, ran out jumping the fire that just kicked off near the finish line, and said goodbye to the HH crew. 3 hours was already up?! Easy, peasy I thought!

Then the tone of the game changed and things got real. Tony shows us a map and says, “you are no longer a team, it’s individual challenges”. So, our first mission was to run to a destination in the desert that’s off course, grab a tire, and meet back at the start line in x amount of time. I was the first girl to the tire graveyard picking what seemed smaller than others, little did I know the smallest ones were buried under to be revealed to the slower runners.

It’s about 10am and Tony says, “now do the whole 9+ mile obstacle race with the tire”. I was more than happy to oblige and excited to do all the obstacles in a 4 hour window. “Piece of cake”, I thought! Although time was on my side, it quickly became apparent we had entered the suck. Maneuvering up and down gravel hills was quite dangerous! Sometimes I chose to bear crawl because I couldn’t keep my footing with the weight of the tire. The whole time I kept thanking God I was not racing this at full speed. It would be all too easy to miss a step and injure yourself.

So through cargo nets, walls, the Hercules hoist, multiple carries, tire flips, crawls, and many other obstacles, I made it through with ease of my tire. I was lucky to be small enough to fit inside my tire where I could position it to rest on top of my pack so it actually helped in the gravel carry because I was able to use the tire to place the weight vs using strength.  But still, holding anything for that long burns your shoulders. If we missed an obstacle it was a 50 burpee penalty vs the usual 30. Rope climb and monkey bars with a tire? Not a chance!

So me and my new buddy Kristine stayed together through the entire course helping each other and laughing while we would nonchalantly take a pee break while chatting to people passing by. I really want to thank everyone who passed us that day. Everyone was so encouraging shouting words of praise. That’s the best part of the Spartan events, we all want to see the other succeed and hearing cheers from fellow racers made our will that much stronger that day.

I do feel I was well prepared for this event. I had all kinds of electrolytes, salt packets, and snacks to help carry me through such a long day in the desert. I even helped a few of the other athletes including some that were not in HH12HR but were desperately seeking salt for cramps. Not once did I have a physical limitation. Despite only being back in the game for 6 months after a year off from total knee recon and 4 surgeries to replace toxic breasts, I never experienced a twinge of pain or cramp. For me, it was the mental part of dealing with the environment. As previously mentioned, the terrain was incredibly wicked with multiple climbs on gravel and rock. And of course, it was blazing hot and I was surprised I was one of few to wear sunglasses (mine are prescription) to help block the sun. Another tool that helped me greatly that day was the dry fit handkerchief I tied around my neck. I used it to cool myself, pick dust globs out of my nose, to cover my mouth when crawling, to wipe things off, and to occasionally cover my whole face while some wicked sand storm would blast through. The weirdest thing about the desert is how quick the temp changes. You would be incredibly hot with dry mouth and burnt skin but then a cloud would come in creating a rapid chill, especially after you enter those dang ice baths!

So after another dunk in the ice bath, Kristine and I crossed the finish line just in time for the cut off. While waiting for everyone else to finish and trying to get warm, we were awarded a break to refuel and collect our finisher medals and shirts. All of us were delighted about having something warm to put on. However, only 19 of us successfully completed that mission. While the others were able to rejoin us, they were not eligible to receive the HH12HR patch.

Only 4 more hours to go and feeling great at this point! They decided to parade us again in front of everyone with our hands interlocked to each other between our legs and then back into the damn ice bath!!!! Really?!! Get us warm and then make us crawl under barb wire while freezing water sprays us only to fully submerge us in the ice bath again?! At this point, I was pissed! We get out and they say go make sand angels. My head was angry as I stared up at the sky flailing around arms and legs. The clouds rolled in and even though I cloud see the sun I was shivering so badly all I could do was pray the clouds would move. Just to mess with us a little more, they had us flip over face down to make sand angels while they kicked up dirt.

After another series of torturous exercises that included group sit ups, more rolling, fire man carries, reverse bear crawl down hill and crab walks back up hill, we were sent on another mission….after another trip to the ice bath of course. We partnered up and were told to retrieve our poker chips from the tunnel under the freeway off course. Lucky I’m only 5’1 because the first tunnel we had to cross was tiny, dark, and laced with spider webs. Then we met one of our slave drivers under the freeway where he demanded 100 push ups for the chip. We did them together in sets of 10 because our shoulders were absolutely destroyed at this point. After running back to hand in the chip, we were greeted with yet another damn ice bath!

Only 2 hours left and we were dragged to a car where we had to retrieve logs to carry. Once we reached our next destination it was exercise roulette drawing from a deck of cards that would determine what and how many of each exercise we would do together as a team. Finally, the golf ball and sharpie came into play writing our names on them only to have them chucked into the desert. After all, Easter is coming so why not celebrate with a hunt? Still not sure why we had to bring a floatation device to the desert, perhaps to slow us down as we crossed under water in the ice bath….?

Back to the logs and on to another destination of freezing water where we did more burpees. At this point I was so cold and the sand storms were so bad that I began coughing uncontrollably feeling like I had pneumonia. One more hour!!  Well, the sand storms got so incredibly dangerous that parts of the Spartan festival started flying around so they put us to work helping break down set ups and grab sand bags to reinforce tents. Thank god because I was praying for no more ice baths. I honestly could not wait to run out of there and get dry clothes after one last task, Indian run the festival while carrying a heavy ass tractor tire.

Finally, our day was done. We earned our shirts, and while only half of us earned the badge, we all earned honor! Some people must have quit along the way as well because the group pic does not have 33 athletes in it. Either way, it was a complete head trip and I totally cried at the end knowing that I can do anything as long as I keep a strong will. I would definitely do this event again, any day. As far as the Death Race goes, I think I may have to pass on that for now so that I can take on the Ultra Beast later this year.

Thank you to all my teammates, slave drivers, and everyone who encouraged our journey. Every bit of the suck was worth it. AROO!!!!

 

Do you think you have what it takes to do the HH12HR? Sign up today! 

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In 1996 the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report that concluded, people of all ages can gain significant health benefits by participating in 30 minutes or more of physical activity on most (preferable all) days of the week (1). In 2007, the guidelines were updated to include vigorous activity as well so that Americans can meet minimum guidelines by performing moderate physical activity for 30 minutes for 5 days a week or vigorous exercise for 20 minutes for 3 days per week (2).   Another health promotion guideline is to walk 10,000 steps per day for the prevention of chronic disease and weight control (3). Keep in mind these are minimums for health promotion not necessarily to place you in the top 10 of a Spartan Race. It is a good place to start for the 3+ billion people who are inactive globally.

Thirty minutes of physical activity is equal to an energy expenditure of about 150 kcals. Walking 10,000 steps is approximately the equivalent of 5 miles or about 500kcals.  Walking 5 miles at a moderate pace will take about 80 minutes.  Preliminary research from the Spartan Institute of Burpee Science (SIBS) indicates that a 150lb person will burn about 1.2 kcals per Burpee.

SIBS recommends that for overall good health, people of all ages can gain significant health benefits through the performance of 100-160 Burpees per day. In order to meet 10,000 steps per day standard, 240 -420 Burpees  will need to be performed. The Burpees can be accumulated throughout the day in three to six, 10-15 minute sessions.  The limiting factor for most individuals attempting to achieve this goal will be lack of muscular endurance and the inability to perform the 100+ push-ups associated with the Burpees.  Another potential limiting factor is poor mobility in the hips and spine. Insufficient flexibility can lead to inefficient movement and higher energy expenditures than those reported by SIBS. But as muscular endurance and flexibility improves with time, meeting the minimum standard can be achievable by all.

1)      Department of Health and Human Services. (1996).Physical Activity and Health: A Report from the Surgeon General. Atlanta:DHHS

2)      Haskell WL, Lee IM, Pate RR, Powell KE, Blair SN, Franklin BA, Macera CA, Heath GW, Thompson PD, Bauman A. (2007).  Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Med Sci Sports Exerc. Aug;39(8):1423-34.

3)      Tudor-Locke C, Bassett DR Jr.(2004). How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health. Sports Med. 2004;34(1):1-8.

 

 

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To promote the winter Olympics, subway stations in Russia are being outfitted with a ticket booth that accepts squats as payment. Knock out 30 and you ride for free.
Our founder Joe Desena liked the idea so much, he’s campaigning to implement a Spartan version that accepts 30 burpees in place of cash. We’re in talks with some major municipalities about the pilot program. Be on the lookout in New York City for Wall Streeters and Hipsters rocking out burpees in the underground very soon…
If you want to pay with burpees in your city, write you local representatives and tell them to Spartan Up!
Then get back to training – you have a race coming up!

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Have a Cold? Do Burpees!  

by Dr Jeff Godin, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., and Director of Spartan Coaching

We have previously discussed the value of the Burpee as it relates to physical fitness (read this blog). The Burpee may also be your best defense against infections.

The lymphatic system is a network of vessels and glands that carry fluid from tissues back to the blood stream. The lymphatic system plays an important function in re-circulating immune cells back into the blood stream and tissue where they protect the body from foreign invaders. The lymphatic system is often called the second circulatory system and is equally as important. However, unlike blood, lymphatic vessels and the lymphatic fluid contained within them do not have a pump to help circulate the fluid.

The lymphatic system relies on the effects of gravity, breathing, and skeletal muscle contraction to help keep the fluid moving throughout the system. Without the movement of the fluid the immune system is compromised. The Burpee takes advantage of all three of these methods and may be a sure fire solution to facilitate the movement of fluid throughout the system.

The Burpee utilizes the muscles of the upper and lower body. The muscles in the extremities contract and relax in a cyclical fashion, massaging the lymph vessels and facilitating the movement of lymph fluid. The high metabolic demand of the Burpee stimulates deep breathing. The constant changes in pressure in the thoracic cavity versus the abdominal cavity during deep breathing stimulates the flow of lymph though the system. Also, although not tested, it is reasonable to believe that the rapid changes in posture from the vertical position, to the horizontal prone position, and then back to the vertical position also facilitates the movement of fluid through the lymphatic system. The constant
change in body position changes the hydrostatic pressure within the lymphatic system. Fluid movement undoubtedly occurs with changes in hydrostatic pressure. Have you ever stood up fast and felt “light-
headed”? That is the result in a drop in hydrostatic pressure in the circulatory system; the blood has “dropped” into the lower extremities. Conversely, if you hang upside down for a second, the blood accumulates in the thorax and head. Essentially lying down and jumping up has the same effect, there is rapid movement of blood and lymphatic fluid through their respective vessels.

A recent paper by Lisa Hodge published in the International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine suggests that manual Lymphatic Pump Techniques enhance immunity and may protect against pneumonia. The Burpee acts in similar fashion, accelerating the pumping action and increasing movement of lymph through the system. The Burpee reigns as the exercise champ!

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by Carrie Adams, Spartan Blog Editor and Finance Professor

www.bagofnothing.com

Tomorrow is Monday!  As always, Monday is the day that most people say that “the diet starts.”  Well, it’s Monday, so how is your diet going?  Let’s do some math and see how your fast food lunch is costing you… in burpees AND in your pocket book.

While counting calories is only one factor of health and nutrition – the numbers certainly don’t lie and are an easy way to demonstrate how your time AND money is affected.  You’ve heard the adage, you can’t out train a bad diet, and it’s absolutely true. You can’t.  You also “pay” for your calories in more than one way.

The calorie burn is easy math.  Livestrong.com tells us that vigorous calisthenics such as pushups, sit-ups and burpees can burn 563 calories an hour for a 155 lb. person, 472 for someone weighing 130 lbs. and 645 for someone at 180 lbs. That’s a great number (enough to burn off a six inch meatball sub from Subway in most cases, but how many of you are doing an hour of burpees a day?

Anyone who did CrossFit Open 12.1 last year, (seven minutes of burpees) knows that seven minutes is a rough stretch.   I can’t imagine another 53 minutes!

Let’s look at an example of calories per dollar.  A large fry at McDonald’s weighs in at 500 calories alone and that’s before you’ve even put ketchup on your Big Mac (another 540 calories by the way).  In dollars, that $2.19 you paid for the fries, just bought you 228 calories per dollar.    Add your Big Mac and you just spent 370 calories per dollar on your lunch that you are telling yourself you earned at the gym.  Cheap lunch on the wallet maybe, but at what long term cost?   

Fast food is cheap, but it depends on how you do the math…  You don’t “earn” the fries in the gym and you shouldn’t reward yourself with garbage, even if the garbage is cheap.  Saying, “I worked out hard today, I earned a fast food value meal,” is like saying, “I worked out hard today, I am now going to assault my body with garbage and toxins.” That doesn’t make any sense and it doesn’t do your body any good.  It may save you a few dollars to load up on tacos, pizza, and burgers but in the end you’ll pay for it and not just in hours of burpees logged at the gym.

The reality is, eating healthy will cost you more in the pocketbook… but compared to what it will cost you in your health and well-being, it should be perceived as an investment, not just an expense.  According to a New York Times article, Adam Drewnowski, director of the center for public health nutrition at the University of Washington conducted a study about price of food. Based on his findings, a 2,000-calorie diet would cost just $3.52 a day if it consisted of junk food, compared with $36.32 a day for a diet of low-energy dense foods. However, most people eat a mix of foods. The average American spends about $7 a day on food, although low-income people spend about $4, says Dr. Drewnowski.

But it’s easier to overeat junk food, Dr. Drewnowski adds, both because it tastes good and because eaters often must consume a greater volume in order to feel satisfied.  The money saved today on food may be needed later if it leads to expensive healthcare costs associated with an unhealthy lifestyle.  That doesn’t sound like much of a cost savings to me.

Fitnessgoop.com published an article citing that an unhealthy diet is a major contributor to long-term disease. A 2007, Milken Institute study entitled “An Unhealthy America: The Economic Burden of Chronic Disease” reported that seven chronic diseases—cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, pulmonary conditions, and mental illness—cost the nation $1.3 trillion annually, including $277 billion for treatment and nearly $1.1 trillion in lost productivity. This sum equates to $361 per month per American for 2007 for just those seven diseases. Doesn’t sound like a bargain to me.

Where is the “value” in your value meal?

 

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“The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”
- Samuel Johnson

After months of work and tireless time in the Spartan HQ lab, we’ve finally determined that eating a high sugar, high salt diet can be an effective way of losing weight!  Over time, the high sugar content brings about a metabolic change in the body and the weight just falls off!

This comes at a time when more and more Americans are looking for that quick fix and that immediate, work-free alternative to a healthier lifestyle!  So, indulge your sweet tooth and eat that seventh piece of cake.  It’s not going to hurt you!

April Fools! Come on, you knew we couldn’t possibly be advocating that! Let’s do some Spartan math.

Sugar is an enemy of the body. It causes tooth decay, leads to poor nutrition, increases insulin levels in the body and is a contributor to the onset of Type II diabetes, and can even be linked to cancer cases. We all know it contributes to obesity and heart disease and is one of the most addictive substances to the body.

Okay, so here we are, the Monday after many celebrated an Easter or Passover potentially filled with cake, cookies, candy, and other sweet or high fat foods in excess and it might hurt as much as a hangover.  The good news is, it’s a new day and new decisions can be made.  It’s another opportunity to get it right.  The bad news is, you will have to work for positive change.  You will have to exert effort for the healthy body you want.  It doesn’t come easy, but it’s worth the effort.

If you’ve finally decided to get off the sugar train once and for all, we’re here to help.  Sign up for our Food of the Day tip –  and better yet, SIGN UP to received our daily workouts as well.  With both FREE resources, you’ll begin to experience positive and healthy changes in your body.

Start now… your body will thank you.

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by Carrie Adams

At last year’s Texas World Championships, elite racer Elliott Megquier was ahead of fellow elite Alec Blenis by about 100 yards.  Reaching the traverse wall towards the end of the race ahead of Blenis, Megquier fell almost halfway across and began his pentalty burpees as the crowd looked on.  Blenis reached the wall seconds later and also fell halfway through.  Even though Megquier was halfway through his set of the mandatory 30 Blenis finished his first and edged out ahead of Megquier, snagging a top five finish.  Burpees have meant the difference between a cash purse and a lonely car ride home, but for most of us, they’ve just mean a lot more pain on race day (and the several days following.)  Despite the burpee hangover, our runners keep coming back for more despite the harsh Spartan penalty that are also often featured in our Spartan WOD’s.  Let’s explore the Spartan burpee…

Meet your maker, Spartans.  The burpee is a  feared, abhorred, and often bringer of tears and pain at Spartan Races.  Sometimes the difference between a non-podium finish or a giant cardboard check.  At Spartan Races, we operate with a different set of rules than most races.  You don’t get to opt out of obstacles, oh no.  Don’t want to climb that 8 foot wall?  30 burpees.  Failed the monkey bars you say? 30 burpees.  Want to bypass the low crawl, drop and give me 30 (burpees, of course).  Didn’t quite make it across the traverse wall?  Yeah, that’ll be 30 burpees.  They’ve been a part of Sparta for a while, our Winter Death Race crew got real good at them last year, they did over 3,000 for their over 24 hours of effort.  We even had a founders Buck Furpees day!  Read about that HERE. 

The spear throw, a prime location for those relegated to doing burpees.  A fan favorite, it’s usually near the end of the course and the finish line.  Spectators swarm the fences to watch as Spartans advance cautiously, knowing how high the fail rate is on this intrepid obstacle.  Weighing the spear in their hands, the techniques vary but it often ends the same way… the thrower watching in horror as their mis-thrown spears bounce off the straw targets, fly recklessly off to one side, or the worst, when they almost land but fall dejectedly to the ground.  It’s always the same reaction.  The Spartan’s face falls and their head drops, knowing that the burpees are now imminent, and off they go to begin their, what else?  30 burpees.

What’s proper burpee protocol?  Not all burpees are made alike, but for starters, watch this video that demonstrates proper burpee form.  As Hobie Call has often pointed out, burpee form tends to degrade over the course of a race as athletes fatigue but a few landmarks hold true to executing a proper burpee and we’re going to give them to you so that you can perfect yours in time for your next Spartan Race.

Obstacle fail! 30 burpees on deck!

1. Chest to deck.  When you drop to the ground, you must execute a full push up with your chest touching the ground.

2. Press out of the push-up jumping your legs underneath your body so that you are in a squatted position.

3. Stand up, extending the hips, and jump off the ground with hands overhead.

Repeat 29 more times.

This 30 burpee penalty is often repeated several times over a Spartan course with finishers often comparing burpee statistics at the end.

“I did 150 burpees!”  says one, “Oh really?  I only did 90.”  Yes, in Spartan we say things like, “I only did 90 burpees today.”  Regardless of number, burpees numbering more than about seven are just a suckfest.  That might be why we love them oh so much.  So, don’t expect them to go away anytime soon from Spartan Race courses.

Want to get registered?  What’s stopping you?  Go HERE for details.

 

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